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1. The Fabric of the Cosmos : Space,
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2. The Elegant Universe: Superstrings,
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3. A Brief History of Time : The
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4. Modern Cosmology
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5. The Illustrated Theory of Everything:
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6. Hyperspace: The Universe and Its
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7. The Universe: 365 Days
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8. Introduction to Cosmology
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9. An Introduction to Modern Cosmology
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10. The Anthropic Cosmological Principle
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11. The Universe Is a Green Dragon:
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12. Galactic Dynamics
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13. The WHOLE SHEBANG : A STATE OF
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14. The Sleepwalkers: A History of
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15. Accretion Power in Astrophysics
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16. The Invisible Universe
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17. The First Three Minutes: A Modern
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18. Cosmological Physics (Cambridge
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19. Stephen Hawking's Universe: The
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20. Galactic Astronomy

1. The Fabric of the Cosmos : Space, Time, and the Texture of Reality
by Brian Greene
list price: $15.95
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Asin: 0375727205
Catlog: Book (2005-02-08)
Publisher: Vintage
Sales Rank: 471
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Amazon.com

As a boy, Brian Greene read Albert Camus' The Myth of Sisyphus and was transformed. Camus, in Greene's paraphrase, insisted that the hero triumphs "by relinquishing everything beyond immediate experience." After wrestling with this idea, however, Greene rejected Camus and realized that his true idols were physicists; scientists who struggled "to assess life and to experience the universe at all possible levels, not just those that happened to be accessible to our frail human senses." His driving question in The Fabric of the Cosmos, then, is fundamental: "What is reality?" Over sixteen chapters, he traces the evolving human understanding of the substrate of the universe, from classical physics to ten-dimensional M-Theory.

Assuming an audience of non-specialists, Greene has set himself a daunting task: to explain non-intuitive, mathematical concepts like String Theory, the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, and Inflationary Cosmology with analogies drawn from common experience. For the most part, he succeeds. His language reflects a deep passion for science and a gift for translating concepts into poetic images. When explaining, for example, the inability to see the higher dimensions inherent in string theory, Greene writes: "We don't see them because of the way we see…like an ant walking along a lily pad…we could be floating within a grand, expansive, higher-dimensional space."

For Greene, Rhodes Scholar and professor of physics and mathematics at Columbia University, speculative science is not always as thorough and successful. His discussion of teleportation, for example, introduces and then quickly tables a valuable philosophical probing of identity. The paradoxes of time travel, however, are treated with greater depth, and his vision of life in a three-brane universe is compelling and--to use his description for quantum reality--"weird."

In the final pages Greene turns from science fiction back to the fringes of science fact, and he returns with rigor to frame discoveries likely to be made in the coming decades. "We are, most definitely, still wandering in the jungle," he concludes. Thanks to Greene, though, some of the underbrush has been cleared. --Patrick O'Kelley ... Read more


2. The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory
by Brian Greene
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Asin: 0375708111
Catlog: Book (2000-02-29)
Publisher: Vintage
Sales Rank: 354
Average Customer Review: 4.57 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

"[Greene] develops one fresh new insight after another...In the great tradition of physicists writing for the masses, The Elegant Universe sets a standard that will be hard to beat." --George Johnson, The New York Times Book Review

In a rare blend of scientific insight and writing as elegant as the theories it explains, Brian Greene, one of the world's leading string theorists, peels away the layers of mystery surrounding string theory to reveal a universe that consists of 11 dimensions where the fabric of space tears and repairs itself, and all matter-from the smallest quarks to the most gargantuan supernovas-is generated by the vibrations of microscopically tiny loops of energy.

Green uses everything from an amusement park ride to ants on a garden hose to illustrate the beautiful yet bizarre realities that modern physics is unveiling.

Dazzling in its brilliance, unprecedented in its ability to both illuminate and entertain, The Elegant Universe is a tour de force of science writing-a delightful, lucid voyage through modern physics that brings us closer than ever to understanding how the universe works. ... Read more

Reviews (371)

5-0 out of 5 stars Superb and exciting overview of superstring theory
It is fascinating and gratifying to read about the recent progress that young geniuses like Brian Greene (the author) are making in theoretical physics. This book is an exposition on superstring theory, which has the promise of being a "theory of everything", seeking to explain the origin of elementary particles as being different resonant patterns of a string or perhaps a membrane, as well as the unification of the various forces and the evolution of the universe. This subject is extremely difficult mathematically -- it occupies the very highest talent level in physics -- and yet Dr. Greene does an extraordinary job of explaining the essential ideas in non-technical language for the intelligent lay person. The book conveys the excitement about the recent discoveries, and recounts some of Greene's own original work, providing the reader a fascinating glimpse into the creative process. The explanations of relativity and quantum mechanics are among the best non-technical explanations I have read. The need for superstrings (or ultimately M-theory) is well motivated and the basic idea of the theory is well explained. The theory's limitations are discussed forthrightly. I was inspired by the discussions about the future directions of the research and the large questions that remain unanswered. As an experimental physicist who is far removed from these developments, I am admittedly not in a position to judge the true accuracy of the book, but at least it seemed fairly clear. One improvement I could recommend if there is a future edition: Although the author did comment that the experimental confirmation and characterization of supersymmetry would be important, more emphasis of this point may be warranted since the tax paying public will be asked for millions of dollars for a next generation of particle accelerators.

5-0 out of 5 stars A peek into answers of Life, the Universe, and Everything
This book is absolutley amazing! Dr. Greene is an excellent writer and teacher. This book deals with the cutting-edge field of superstring theory--the idea that little vibrating loops of string are the most basic constituents of our universe, as opposed to "point" particles as presented for decades by the standard theory. Superstring theory may be the answer to Einstein's unrealized quest for a "Theory of Everything."

The book begins with a very lucid explanation of Einstein's Special and General Theories of Relativity, then leads into Quantum Mechanics, and discusses the inconsistencies between these views of physics on a large scale (General Relativity) and physics on a very small scale (Quantum Mechanics). Dr. Greene then goes on to explain superstring theory and how this new framework smooths out many of the contradictions between General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics.

Using this new understanding of superstring theory, Dr. Greene leads the reader through a myriad of otherwise mind-boggling topics such as: the beginning of the Universe, the possible existence of other universes, 11-dimensional existence, time travel, tears in the fabric of space, and black holes. It's written on a level for the layperson (like me) and I think most people will be able to understand and appreciate all the concepts presented.

2-0 out of 5 stars needed more about the elegant universe
This books is over-rated, but still better than most books on the subjects he covers. I gave it two stars to get your attention. It is actually a 3 or 4 star book.

I was dissappointed because the title suggested I'd read more about the mysteries of the beginning of the universe and some of the philosophical issues pertaining to the nature of existance and ultimate reality. While the author did give me some good mindfood at the end of the book, the coverage was too brief and far too restrained. I think he was aware of his peers reading it and was being too conservative.

I skimmed a lot. I kept an eye out for places where he quit trying to teach me details and made some interesting comments. I'll give him credit--there were plenty of facinating paragraphs---but they were hidden in page after page of boring stuff. Lets face it, this is arcane stuff! But the implications are interesting, at least to me. I think the book should have been about half the length.

I personally don't think it is possible to understand things like relativity without working some problems. When I took physics, I had to work a few problems to think about the stuff deeply enough to "get it." I don't think many readers are looking to work that much--most of us want a stimulating read. And as the author mentions, many believe that no one really understands quantum mechanics. Also, I did not like the analogies as much as some other readers.

I recommend this book to really really smart readers or to readers who know how to skim without losing interest. Some of the insights were worth looking for.

5-0 out of 5 stars Detailed but biased instroduction to string theory
Toe central problem of physics today revolves around this conundrum: Gravity is governed by Einstein's relativity theory, which requires that space-time is smooth. Gravity has been experimentally verified. Atomic forces are govered by quantum mechanics, which requires that space-time is bumpy, foamy, and irregular. These atomic forces have been experimentally verified.

How can space time be smooth for gravity, and yet be bumpy for quantum machanics? Enter string theory.

This book is a terrific introduction not only to string theory, but to relativity and quantum mechanics as well. The first half of the book reviews the history and development of these theories, since they are a fundamental component of string theory. In particular, Greene's treatment of relativity uses some outstanding analogies to explain time dilation and gravitational warping. I thought I understood the basics of relativity; this book still taught me a few things.

Analogies are this author's strength. He uses them at every step to avoid the need to complex mathematical formulae. There are no formulae in this book (some will think that a minus, but I view it as a plus.) Using analogies, he's able to provide a comprehensible view of what 10-dimensional spacetime would be like, and how expanding one of the other dimensions might affect life in the Universe. These 5 pages alone are probably worth the price of the book.

If you want a glimpse of one of the cutting-edge areas of particle physics research without needing to study math for 10 years, this book can give it to you.

5-0 out of 5 stars The science of wonder
I have to credit Brian Greene. He did what I thought was the impossible: he got me interested in science. I've been a liberal arts-type since I can remember. The exact rules and laws of science always left me kind of cold, and so I found myself drawn to literature, poetry and music as the more complete descriptors of human experience.

But last Fall, I couldn't sleep one night and ended up staying up until dawn watching THE ELEGANT UNIVERSE. It was amazing and captivating. It got me excited in a way "science" hadn't since I was a kid, fascinated with the imaginative possibilities of space travel.

I was hooked and had to get the book. The tv program proved to be a great distillation of the book, but if you saw the program and your interest was piqued by the magical dance of superstrings and the mind-bending extra dimensional possibilities, you'll enjoy the full feast of Greene's book even more.

THE ELEGANT UNIVERSE is an enormous feat. It marries the rigor of scientific enquiry with the elegant, at times poetic, presentation of literature. Greene is such an able and down-to-earth explainer of complicated mathematical concepts that he makes even the most dyed-in-the-wool math hater think about signing up for some evening classes at the local college. ... Read more


3. A Brief History of Time : The Updated and Expanded Tenth Anniversary Edition
by STEPHEN HAWKING
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Asin: 0553380168
Catlog: Book (1998-09-01)
Publisher: Bantam
Sales Rank: 1521
Average Customer Review: 4.42 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

A Brief History of Time, published in 1988, was a landmark volume in science writing and in world-wide acclaim and popularity, with more than 9 million copies in print globally. The original edition was on the cutting edge of what was then known about the origins and nature of the universe. But the ensuing years have seen extraordinary advances in the technology of observing both the micro- and the macrocosmic world--observations that have confirmed many of Hawking's theoretical predictions in the first edition of his book.

Now a decade later, this edition updates the chapters throughout to document those advances, and also includes an entirely new chapter on Wormholes and Time Travel and a new introduction. It make vividly clear why A Brief History of Time has transformed our view of the universe. ... Read more

Reviews (281)

5-0 out of 5 stars A classical predecessor of the Elegant Universe
Stephen Hawking is the first physicist who was able to combine the laws of the small - quantum mechanics - with the laws of the large - general relativity - to find out something fascinating: black holes evaporate. He was also the first man who published a book on theoretical physics that has become popular world-wide (about 9 million copies have been sold). Many readers have learned a lot of exciting things about our universe from this book. So did I - even though I was a student of theoretical physics. Although this book is not as perfect as Brian Greene's "The Elegant Universe", the successor of the Hawking's book in the position of the book on theoretical physics causing such a stir, "A Brief History of Time" will remain a tour de force, a pioneering work which began a new interest in physics among masses of people. That is why do I recommend you to read this book about the big bang, black holes, the quest for the ultimate theory and many other issues.

5-0 out of 5 stars Scientific Literacy
In the modern era, natural science is more than a lot of abstract thoughts and boring jargon--it is a leader of society. Newton's theory of physics, Darwin's theory of evolution, Heisenberg's uncertainty principle--all have changed the way we think about the world, influenced other disciplines, and ultimately changed society.

Because of this profound effect science has on society, it is important for the general public to understand the ideas and development of science. Unfortunately, it becomes increasingly difficult to do so as science becomes more specialized and technical.

Enter Stephen Hawking and 'A Brief History of Time.' The book is one of many great books that increase scientific literacy for ordinary people like me.

Only someone who fully understands the basic concepts of theoretical physics could put it into clear and easy prose as Hawking does. He outlines the progress of theoretical physics and the theories that attempt to describe the universe, all in plain English.

Hawking paints a picture of the universe--its beginning, its end, the direction of time, black holes-- with the wonder and curiosity of the child plus the style and confidence of a brilliant mind. One of the most brilliant minds in this century, as a matter of fact.

The final sentence about knowing the mind of God--"the ultimate triumph of human reason"--reminded me of that timeless scene in the Bible where the serpent convinces Adam and Eve to eat the apple.

Figuratively (*figuratively*) , that triumph is what we left Eden for. We have left Paradise for unknown horizons, for questions instead of answers, for a world of wonders. That quest is what A Brief History of Time is about. Do yourself a favor and read this book.

5-0 out of 5 stars a marvel of a book
This book is truly a gem.. small volume but packed with a density of information..
Explore fascinating topics you could not think about in your wildest DREAMS.. topics are Black holes, Entropy, Origins of universe, Time Travel.

Hawkings is truly a genius among geniuses.
(...) If you can finish the book, the knowledge is well worth it.

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent Introduction for the Curious Mind
For anybody who does not have sufficient knowledge to read some of Hawking's more complex writings, this is the perfect book to get started on. It introduces you to the concepts of astrophysics, in which are explained very well. Stephen Hawking uses humor and everyday scenarios to explain some difficult concepts of astrophysics. It is a great way to simply expand your knowledge by understanding the big bang, quantum mechanics, and even sub-atomic particles. Stephen Hawking is an excellent writer, not to mention the Albert Einstein of our time; he makes this book almost seem like a novel more than a non-fiction book. I highly recommend this book to pretty much anyone, because it introduces you to astrophysics, as well as just answering questions regarding time travel, or where we came from.

4-0 out of 5 stars Hawking is succinct, even-handed, and even funny.
A Brief History of Time is 3 things at once:

First, it is a chronology of the various important scientists and discoveries over the centuries, all leading to where we are now.

Second, it explains, between the beginner and intermediate levels, an understanding of concepts such as black holes, worm holes, the beginning and potential end of time, particles and waves, quantum mechanics, and other issues in science.

Third, it is almost an autobiography of Dr. Hawking's scientific life. He interjects wonderful bits of humor and explains the concepts carefully and as simply as he can.

He is also respectful of religion, briefly interjecting his ideas about how religion does not have to be incompatible with the rapidly expanding ideas of science, and that religion should embrace science more.

One part I found humorous was his explanation of a bet he lost with a colleague (he seems to have a lot of long-standing bets going). He owned up to being wrong, and paid the penalty, which was a "one-year subscription to Penthouse, to the outrage of [his colleague's] liberated wife."

This book is for physics experts as well as people who know nothing about science and just want to learn some of the basic concepts. Like the universe, expand your mind. ... Read more


4. Modern Cosmology
by Scott Dodelson
list price: $70.00
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Asin: 0122191412
Catlog: Book (2003-03-07)
Publisher: Academic Press
Sales Rank: 114411
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Modern Cosmology begins with an introduction to the smooth, homogeneous universe described by a Friedman-Robertson-Walker metric, including careful treatments of dark energy, big bang nucleosynthesis, recombination, and dark matter.From this starting point, the reader is introduced to perturbations about an FRW universe: their evolution with the Einstein-Boltzmann equations, their generation by primordial inflation, and their observational consequences. These consequences include the anisotropy spectrum of the cosmic microwave background (CMB) featuring acoustic peaks and polarization, the matter power spectrum with baryonic wiggles, and their detection via photometric galaxy surveys, redshift distortions, cluster abundances, and weak lensing. The book concludes with a long chapter on data analysis.

Modern Cosmology is the first book to explain in detail the structure of the acoustic peaks in the CMB, the E/B decomposition in polarization which may allow for detection of primordial gravity waves, and the modern analysis techniques used on increasingly large cosmological data sets. Readers will gain the tools needed to work in cosmology and learn how modern observations are rapidly revolutionizing our picture of the universe.

*Provides foundations, calculations, and interpretations which illuminate current thinking in cosmology
*Covers the major advances in cosmology over the past decade
*Includes over 100 unique, pedagogical figures
... Read more

Reviews (4)

5-0 out of 5 stars Great text
I haven't used another cosmology text for comparison, but have been very pleased with this one. The text is everywhere clear, reasonably concise, and the author uses good judgment in determining which calculations to present as examples and which to reserve for practice, all of which make this a very easy text to read. My only reservations are that necessary assumptions and approximations do not always seem fully justified, and the reader is often asked to wait until later in the text for certain approximations to be justified, which at times disrupts the logical flow of the text. The text is also somewhat incomplete in the sense that Dodelson does not always start from first principles. In my case I considered this an advantage as it allowed for quicker reading and less overhead before important results are presented. The discussion of inflation was less complete than I had hoped, but sufficient to prepare me for the literature.

5-0 out of 5 stars the BEST book on cosmology for the advanced student
Without question, Dodelson's book beats out a herd of books at the present redshift for the de rigeur text to be bandied about by grad students. I haven't looked back at Padmanabhan's Structure formation in awhile, but it was written before the COBE discoveries, and so it's a bit "old fashioned" now; there are a number of other books worth looking at, of course.

Couple Dodelson with Kolb & Turner's Early Universe text (which has some more in depth treatments of QCD- and high energy-related effects such as the axion), and perhaps with the old -- but still excellent -- Peebles book on large scale structure, and you're ready to hit the ground running in the literature.

Especially commendable aspects of Dodelson's book:

1. A great literature review at the end of each chapter allows you to dip deeper (or clarify things.) Dodelson should also be praised for his evenhandedness.

2. His in depth solutions -- meaning, you and he crunch the algebra together down the page -- are a great antidote to the "it can be shown" attitude of many cosmology papers (and sometimes textbooks!)

5-0 out of 5 stars Approachable Cosmology
This book is a must-have for the cosmos-curious. Well organized and indexed and excellently written, the author puts difficult information within reach of the student who aspires to understand one of the most complex disciplines. A superb accomplishment by a fine teacher and consummate scientist that should become the definitive text for all would-be cosmologists.

5-0 out of 5 stars Impressive even at a first look
I stumbled across the title of this book when I was browsing around somebody's cosmology course website. I know that Scott Dodelson is a quite well-known cosmologist, so I start searching for more information. After reading the preliminary detailed table of contents (I found it somewhere on the web) and the book description from Academic Press, I decided to pre-order the book. The book arrived just on March 31. I tried to take a quick but thorough view before write this comment. I haven't read the book in full. Here i would just like to write the Table of Contents in more detail by including the sections.

1. The Standard Model and Beyond. The expanding universe, Hubble diagram, Big Bang Nucleosynthesis (BBN), Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB), beyond Standard Model.

2. The Smooth, Expanding Universe. General relativity (crash course), distances, evolution of energy, cosmic inventory (photons, baryons, matter, neutrinos, dark energy, epoch of matter-radiation equality).

3. Beyond Equilibrium. Boltzmann equation for annihilation, BBN (neutron & light elements abudance), recombination, dark matter.

4. The Boltzmann Equations (BE). BE for harmonic oscillator, the collisionless BE for photons (0th and 1st order), collision terms: Compton scattering, BE for photons, BE for Cold Dark Matter (CDM), BE for baryons.

5. Einstein Equations. Perturbed Ricci tensor and scalar, two components of Einstein Equations, tensor perturbations, decomposition theorems, gauges.

6. Initial conditions. Einstein-Boltzmann equations at early times, the horizon, inflation, gravity wave production, scalar perturbations.

7. Inhomogeneities. Prelude, large scales (super-horizon & through horizon crossing), small scales (horizon & sub-horizon crossing), growth function, beyond CDM.

8. Anisotropies. Overview, large-scale anisotropies, acoustic oscillations (tightly coupled), diffusion (Silk) damping, inhomogeneities to anisotropies (free streaming, C_{l}s), anisotropy spectrum (Sachs-Wolfe, small scales), cosmological parameters.

9. Probe of Inhomogeneities. Angular correlation, peculiar velocities, redshift space distortions, galaxy clusters.

10. Weak Lensing and Polarization. Gravitational distortion, geodesics and shears, ellipticity, weak lensing power spectrum, polarization, quadrupole and Q/U (or E/B as in recent literatures) decomposition, polarization power spectra, detection of gravity waves.

11. Analysis. Likelihood function, signal covariance matrix, Karhunen-Loeve & optimal quadratic, Fisher matrix, mapmaking & inversion, systematics, foregrounds.

Appendix A. Solution to Selected Problems
Appendix B. Numbers
Appendix C. Special Functions
Appendix D. Symbols.
Bibliography.

In addition, each chapter is ended with a summary and further reading list. Quite nice indeed. The bibliography are extensive: there are classic, pioneering papers, recent papers, textbooks. There are some color plates in the middle part of the book.

In my opinion, this book is far better than Peacock in discussing new aspect of anisotropies and inhomogeneities. Lots of topics that were only previously available in research papers, review articles, summer school lectures, preprints, are brought together to the form of a decent book. The chapter of analysis is quite interesting, since the subject has become very demanding but there are still no single treatment of it.

Dodelson said in the preface that the expected audience are advanced undergraduate and beginning graduate students. Some of the necessary materials (GR, inflation, are introduced in the text).

I myself suggests, however, that the reader should have a proficient knowledge in standard undergraduate physics (mechanics, thermodynamics, electromagnetism, quantum physics), mathematical physics, and general relativity if possible. Some knowledge of astrophysics/astronomy, statistics/data analysis, kinetic theory, would certainly be welcomed.

A little bit of cons, however are inevitable. The current development in cosmology is astounding. Just a few weeks before the book was published, the WMAP team released their first result after a year of observations, which put tight constraints for cosmological models. Several numbers and figures in the book then are in the need to be updated. Topics such as distant quasars, cosmic reionization and the end of cosmic dark ages, first-generation stars, might be worthy enough to be included in the future.

This book is definitely a must buy for cosmologist.

Update 2003 July 8
Author's website for the book is available with full table of contents at

home.fnal.gov/~dodelson/book.html

Update 2003 September 8.
You should also get two more books beside this.

1) Kinetic theory in the expanding universe by Jeremy Bernstein, Cambridge, 1988, ISBN 0-521-36050-1. Best reference material to understand relativistic Boltzmann equation in Dodelson chapter 3-5.

2) The Early Universe by Edward W. Kolb and Michael S. Turner, Perseus/Westview, 1994, ISBN 0-201-62674-8. Contains extensive material on FRW metric, detailed discussion on nucleosynthesis and particle physics-cosmology interface, inflation, and structure formation. ... Read more


5. The Illustrated Theory of Everything: The Origin and Fate of the Universe
by Stephen W. Hawking
list price: $29.95
our price: $29.95
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Asin: 1932407073
Catlog: Book (2003-10-01)
Publisher: New Millennium
Sales Rank: 85286
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

In physicist Stephan Hawking's brilliant opus, A Brief History Of Time, he presented us with a bold new look at our universe, how it began, and how our old views of physics and tired theories about the creation of the universe were no longer relevant. In other words, Hawking gave us a new look at our world, our universe, and ourselves.

Now, available for the first time in a deluxe full-color edition with never-before-seen photos and illustrations, Hawking presents an even more comprehensive look at our universe, its creation, and how we see ourselves within it. Imagine sitting in a comfortable room listening to Hawking discuss his latest theories and place them in historical context with science'sother great achievements-it would be like hearing Christopher Columbus deliver the news about the new world. ... Read more

Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars Men please dont kill this book but let it live.
I apreciated the non illustrated edition and I tried to buy this many times but always it seemed like an offence to Hawking because he does not endorse this book, and I gived up.
But now I need make supplys for hollydays so I need to order it in peace and I like to give it a better rate.
Why? no reason, I still am Palatinum Count of last Imperor (Carlos I) and I can legitimate illegitimates men and books.
I know this seems irrelevant,but if the greatest living mathematician disclaim his own writes he hurt an instinct that I wish to keep alive,because in tales there is always a theory of everything and tales are more important than full copyright.
So stop grumbling with Morgana I recognise you Merlin! ... Read more


6. Hyperspace: The Universe and Its Mysteries
by John R. Gribbin, John Gribbin
list price: $29.95
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Asin: 0789478382
Catlog: Book (2001-09-15)
Publisher: Dorling Kindersley Publishing
Sales Rank: 505312
Average Customer Review: 4.75 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

The exploration of the Universe which largely began to take place in the final decades of the 20th century is the story told in Hyperspace: Our Final Frontier. There have now been space probes to all the major planets of the Earth's Solar System -- the only worlds that are likely to be physically explored in our lifetime. Beyond the Solar System, across the final frontier of space, however, astronomers are now able to explore the Universe by proxy, using evidence from light, radio waves, x-ray, and other information gathered by telescopes on the Earth's surface and by orbiting satellites. Astronomers can now work out the life cycles of stars, the evolution of galaxies, the location of other solar systems, and the fate of the Universe itself.

Hyperspace: Our Final Frontier provides a compelling insight into the way that astronomers work, explaining how they make the discoveries that make headlines, as well as the stories behind those headlines. From the first steps which measured the distances to the nearest stars, to the latest discovery that the Universe is expanding at an ever faster rate, John Gribbin puts deep space into perspective with the aid of specially commissioned illustrations and revealing photographs from the latest generation of astronomical telescopes. ... Read more

Reviews (4)

5-0 out of 5 stars Hyperspace: The Universe and its Mysteries
Hyperspace: The Universe and its Mysteries written by John Gribbin is a very well-written book and has some really beautiful pictures and illustrations.

"Hyperspace" takes the reader a a quest to find some answers as to how the universe and our galaxy was formed. This book is a companion to the TLC video "Hyperspace: Our Final Frontier." This book shows us how astronomers are now able to explore the universe by proxy... by light, radio waves, and x-rays. There is satellite information and revealing photography from the latest generation of astronomical telescopes all are here in the book making for some very interesting reading along with some interesting illustration to make a point.

The book's contents has but four chapters: Across the Universe, The Fate of the Universe, Making Contact, and Other Worlds. As you read the well-written narrative, you will learn about the universe and its wonders. This is an excellent text for understanding and learning about the universe without having an advanced degree.

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent companion to the series
Do not be fooled by the glossy exterior of this publication. Inside is a serious treatment of the latest theories and scientific discoveries about the cosmology of the universe. This companion book to the 2001 BBC television series Space, which also aired on The Learning Channel, is packed with fascinating information sure to interest teens who enjoy reading about the possibilities of extraterrestrial life and the ultimate fate of the universe. A visual feast, the book is chock full of stunning photographs and eye-catching illustrations. Although some of the material covered is very complex, Gribbin uses wonderful visual comparisons to clarify difficult concepts, comparing, for example, the dying radiation from a black hole to the fading smile of the Cheshire Cat. Throughout the book there are many interesting sidebars, including one that discusses the possibility that there actually might have been a Star of Bethlehem. The book also features starred quotations on some of its pages that help pique the reader's interest in the subject. Finally, each section in the chapter has helpful topic links to other areas of the book containing further information related to that topic. A wonderful follow-up to Carl Sagan's similar classic 1980 work, Cosmos, this beautiful and well-organized book would appeal both to teens with a beginning interest in the subject and those who are serious students of astronomy. The photos alone are worth the price of this highly recommended purchase for school and public libraries.

5-0 out of 5 stars Packs color photos with easily-understood explanations
John Gribbin's Hyperspace accompanies a BBC/TLC special on the subject and packs over 250 color photos into a guide to the latest new theories and discoveries of astronomy. From how astronomers measure distances in space to theories about the origins, composition and nature of the universe, this packs color photos with easily-understood explanations.

4-0 out of 5 stars A Good Companion To The Series
This book does not follow the TV series special blow by blow, but it does cover much of the same material and makes a great companion to the series.

Much of the material in this book is subject to change over the next few years as new discoveries are made, so if you are interested in "Hyperspace," get it soon to be assured that it is accurate.

I did not find this book to be as good a companion work as, say, "Cosmos" the book was when it came out with that groundbreaking series, but it's close. DK, as always, does an excellent job producing lively texts, and this is no exception. ... Read more


7. The Universe: 365 Days
by Robert J. Nemiroff, Jerry T. Bonnell
list price: $29.95
our price: $18.87
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0810942682
Catlog: Book (2003-05-01)
Publisher: Harry N Abrams
Sales Rank: 5086
Average Customer Review: 4.88 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Photographs of outer space--produced by earthbound and space telescopes and planet-roving satellites--have captivated a vast audience. And nowhere has this audience found more enthralling views than on Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD), a website so popular that it draws well over one million hits every week. The Universe: 365 Days presents in unprecedented clarity 365 spectacular images culled from the thousands that have been featured on the site, which has been hailed as one of the best science sites by both Scientific American and Popular Science magazines.

Following the enormously successful format of Abrams' Earth From Above: 365 Days, The Universe: 365 Days has been crafted by the two astrophysicists who in 1995, in collaboration with NASA, created and continue to maintain the APOD website. Accompanying each stunning image is a short explanatory text that greatly expands the reader's appreciation of the wonders of the cosmos. ... Read more

Reviews (8)

5-0 out of 5 stars beautiful photography
There is a website called "Astronomy Picture of the Day". The website is exactly what it claims to be. Every day the website posts a new picture related to astronomy with a description of that picture written by a professional astronomer. With the first archived photo on that website from June 16, 1995, the editors of "The Universe: 365 Days" had nearly 8 years of photographs to draw on when this volume was published in May 2003. This book can be used like a calendar because that is how this book is laid out: every day of the year has an astronomy photograph, with a description of each picture.

As someone who knows very little about the universe, or astronomy, even with the descriptions next to the pictures I still wasn't always sure what I was looking at and how one picture was truly different from another. I understand that they look different and that they are pictures of very different parts of the universe, but the details are far beyond my comprehension. What is not beyond my comprehension is the fact that these are stunningly beautiful pictures. Even simple pictures that we may have seen many times before, like a picture of our planet from space, is striking and beautiful. Others are of star clusters and galaxies that are so far away and so alien that it boggles the mind to know that there are places like this out there and we really know nothing about what it would be like to travel there.

This book can be read as a calendar, where you flip the page each day and see what new photograph is waiting. It can be read like that, but I couldn't imagine only looking at one of these pictures a day. After seeing one picture, I just had to turn the page to see what wonder was waiting for me, and almost without exception, there was a wonder on every page. Beautiful space photography (though some are on Earth, and others looking out from Earth). If that sounds interesting, this collection is probably for you.

-Joe Sherry

4-0 out of 5 stars Illuminating !
Ahhh... The beauty of the universe. Do you think it just formed itself? After looking thru the marvelous photos in this book, do yourself a favor and read up on the continuing war between science and religion.
Here is an excerpt from the latest book by Dan Brown...

"Science may have alleviated the miseries of disease and drudgery and provided an array of gadgetry for our entertainment and convenience, but it has left us in a world without wonder. Our sunsets have been reduced to wavelengths and frequencies. The complexities of the universe have been shredded into mathematical equations. Even our self-worth as human beings has been destroyed. Science proclaims that Planet Earth and its inhabitants are a meaningless speck in the grand scheme. A cosmic 'accident'. Even the technology that promises to unite us, divids us. Each of us is now electronically connected to the globe, and yet we feel utterly alone. We are bombarded with violence, division, fracture, and betrayal. Skepticism has become a virtue. Cynicism and demand for proof has become enlightened thought. Is it any wonder that humans now feel more depressed and defeated than they have at any point in human history? Does science hold ANYTHING sacred? Science looks for answers by probing our unborn fetuses. Science even presumes to rearrange our own DNA. It shatters GOD's world into smaller and smaller pieces in quest of meaning... and all it finds is more questions.
The ancient war between science and religion is over. Science has won. But not fairly. Not by providing answers, but by so radically reorienting our society that the truths we once saw as signposts now seem inapplicable. Religion cannot keep up. Scientific growth is exponential. It feeds on itself like a virus. Every new breakthrough opens doors for new breakthroughs. Mankind took thousands of years to progress from the wheel to the car. Yet only decades from the car into space. Now we measure progress in weeks. We are spinning out of control. The rift between us grows deeper and deeper, and as religion is left behind, people find themselves in a spiritual VOID. We cry out for meaning. There is a growing trend of people who profess to believe in UFO's, engage in chanelling, spirit contact, and out-of-body experiences- all these eccentric ideas have a scientific veneer, but they are unashamedly irrational. They are the desperate cry of the modern soul, lonely and tormented, crippled by its own enlightenment and its inability to accept meaning in anything removed from technology.
Science, the 'illuminati' say, will save us. Science, I say, has destroyed us. Since the days of Galileo, the church has tried to slow the relentless march of science, sometimes with misguided means, but always with benevolent intention. Even so, the temptations are too great for man to resist. I warn you, look around yourselves. The promises of science have not been kept. Promises of efficiency and simplicity have bred nothing but pollution and chaos. We are a fractured and frantic species... moving down a path of desruction.
To science, I say this. The church is tired. We are exhausted from trying to be your signposts. Our resources are drying up from our campain to be the voice of balance as you plow blindly on in your quest for smaller chips and larger profits. You even murder unborn children in the name of research that will save lives. But it is the church that points out the fallacy of this reasoning. And all the while, you proclaim that the church is ignorant. But who is MORE ignorant? The man who cannot define lightning, or the man who does not respect its awesome power?
Show me proof that there is a God, you say. I say use your telescopes to look to the heavens, and tell me how there could not be a God. Do you not see God in your science? Have we become so spiritually bankrupt that we would rather believe in mathematical impossibility than in a power greather than us?
Whether or not you believe in God, you must admit that when people abandon their trust in a greather power, they abandon their sense of accountability. Faith, all Faiths are adomitions that there is something we cannot understand, something to which we are accountable... With faith we are accountable to ourselves, to each other, and to a higher truth. Religion is flawed, but only because MAN is flawed. Simply put, we people with faith belong to a brotherhood of imperfect simple souls wanting only to be a voice of compassion in a world rapidly spinning out of control."

~ From Angels & Demons

5-0 out of 5 stars a must have for all ages, all walks of life
This book is nothing short of phenomenal. I keep buying it for people because I know they will be enthralled. Each photograph is awe inspiring and the accompanying text just boggles the mind. You can get lost for several minutes just gazing at a single photograph, contemplating the nature of the universe. Petty concerns dissolve as you stretch your mind around the concepts so beautifully depicted. This book is a treasure to enjoy for a lifetime.

5-0 out of 5 stars Gorgeous
You know about the Astronomy Picture of the Day website, don't you? If not, check it out; I can't post the URL here but a quick search will turn it up.

This book is a collection of some of the very best pictures from that marvellous site. Most of the pictures are images of Very Cool Stuff from around the cosmos: comets whacking into Jupiter, galaxies forming, that sort of thing. And wow, it sure is _big_ out there.

The stuff close to home is fascinating enough in its own right that the book pays for itself with just the images from within our very own solar system. The shots of the other planets and their moons are culled from the various flyby missions and, naturally, they are _way_ better than anything that was available when I was a kid.

There are a few that are _very_ close to home, and these are cool too. Some show either the Earth (from orbit) or a view of its sky (during the Hale-Bopp visitation, for example). A handful are of other things entirely (including one of the most effective Magic Eye pictures I've ever seen).

They are all of them stunning, captivating, and gorgeous. If you aren't pretty much transfixed by this stuff, then you and I probably aren't from the same homeworld.

And the short commentary that accompanies each image was written by a qualified, competent astronomer. Does life _get_ any better than this?

Don't forget to visit the website, too. There are lots more images in its archives than would fit into this book.

5-0 out of 5 stars Amazing picturer after amazing picture
If you've spent some time on the Internet, you've come across the Astronomy Picture of the Day (APoD) website, run by astrophysicists Robert Nemiroff and Jerry Bonnell. Once a day they post up a space-related picture, provide a handy description. I've said to myself on several occasions, that these guys should write a book. Well, now they have.

The Universe: 365 Days is a print version of APoD, and it's one of the most gorgeous astronomy books I've ever seen. Open it up to any page: on your right is a full-page photograph, and on your left is a paragraph description about the picture. That's it, 365 pages of description/picture, rinse, repeat. Not much else to say. If you like pictures of space and astronomy, then you're going love it, page after page.

Because there are so many photographs, the authors were able to draw from a large pool of images. So, it isn't just the same old NASA/Hubble pictures that everyone uses, there are some from more obscure observatories and even amateur astronomers. There's a handy index at the back so you seek out images by topic.

I understand why they decided to go with the whole 365 days concept; it's a connection to their website. But then, it's not like you're going to read the book one day at a time, like some kind of yearlong astronomical advent calendar.

Let me just stick my drooling tongue back in my mouth for a second and let you know my complaints with the book. First, the text is really small. Unreasonably small considering that it's swimming in white space. The layout person should have been thinking about all the people who might be reading this book, and steered well away from 9 point font. My other complaint is that it feels fragile. Imagine you're holding a stack of nearly 400 photographs bound together on the left-hand side. I'm worried that it might come apart with all the use it'll get sitting on a coffee table. I'm afraid to let my kid look through it, as she'll render it into pulp in minutes.

Still, complaints aside The Universe: 365 Days is a fantastic book. Gorgeous photographs put into context by scientists who've had years of experience boiling complex concepts into handy, bite-sized write-ups. ... Read more


8. Introduction to Cosmology
by Barbara Ryden
list price: $60.80
our price: $60.80
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0805389121
Catlog: Book (2002-10-08)
Publisher: Addison Wesley
Sales Rank: 300443
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Introduction to Cosmology provides a rare combination of a solid foundation of the core physical concepts of cosmology and the most recent astronomical observations. The book is designed for advanced undergraduates or beginning graduate students and assumes no prior knowledge of general relativity. An emphasis is placed on developing the readers' physical insight rather than losing them with complex math. An approachable writing style and wealth of fresh and imaginative analogies from "everyday" physics are used to make the concepts of cosmology more accessible.The book is unique in that it not only includes recent major developments in cosmology, like the cosmological constant and accelerating universe, but also anticipates key developments expected in the next few years, such as detailed results on the cosmic microwave background.For anyone interested in cosmology or astronomy. ... Read more

Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars Clear and useful
This book is an excellent introduction to all facets of cosmology for anyone from advanced undergraduates on. It includes a slow immersion in the key physical concepts of current cosmology theory, and broadly covers all relevent topics, as listed in the chapter headings. However, the greatest strength of this book is in the decision to forgo detailed General Relativity derivations. Instead of pages of numbing treatment of tensor math and metrics, Ryden summarizes the results of GR that are relevant to current cosmology, presenting the Friedmann equation and the Robertson-Walker metric. While this approach might infuriate purists, it allows the student to understand cosmology from a conceptual standpoint, while providing the mathematical tools necessary for analysis, and is a sufficient general introduction for any physics or astronomy student. It also provides a strong base of knowledge for those who do wish to proceed further into the details of GR. Furthermore, the conversational style of the text makes it much easier to read than any other physics textbook I have encountered. I would recommend any student (or professional) who slogged through their cosmology studies with no sense of the overall state of the field to use this book for both brushing up on the basics and as a quick reference. ... Read more


9. An Introduction to Modern Cosmology
by AndrewLiddle
list price: $35.00
our price: $31.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0470848359
Catlog: Book (2003-05-09)
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons
Sales Rank: 35980
Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

A concise, accessible introduction to this exciting and dynamic subject.
* Adopts an approach grounded in physics rather than mathematics.
* Includes worked examples and student problems, along with hints for solving them and the numerical answers.
* Many reviewers have commented that this is one of the best 'introductory undergraduate level' texts on the subject and they would all welcome a Second Edition.
... Read more

Reviews (5)

4-0 out of 5 stars A concise and accessible overview.
This is a highly readable introduction to Cosmology. The author states clearly that the approach is grounded in physics rather than mathematics and indeed, any reader with a basic grasp of single-variable calculus would cope with the derivations that are presented. Its ready accessibility would make it an enjoyable introduction for those working on their own wanting more than a 'popular 'account of Cosmology.I have adapted and used some of the material and problems for my year 13 physics class.

The main body of the book is self-contained and requires no further material for the interested reader to get to grips with the rudiments of the standard cosmological models. More complex results are stated without derivation and some are used as the basis for the exercises. The 'Advanced' topics require a little more of the reader and are presented as brief summaries rather than being rigorous. For example ,the chapter on General Relativistic Cosmology is 'for those readers who have experienced some general relativity'. As a teacher of physics,I found this book to be a very useful addition to my library.

5-0 out of 5 stars Best elementary Book on Cosmology.
This is the clearest book on Cosmology available. It is also the most up-to-date. Some math is used, so it is not a book for absolutely everyone. I would say it is for beginning undergraduates, but more advanced readers will get more from the "Advanced Topic" sections. Many problems are included. The advanced readers will have to solve them all, to really get all the book has to offer.
The price per page is high, compared to the Cambridge and Princeton paperbacks.

5-0 out of 5 stars An excellent introduction
I came across this book because it was required reading for my cosmology course. The book gives a Newtonian (it only briefly mentions the much more complicated General Relativity equations) overview of the current theories about the universe: its mass, its age, its shape and its ultimate destiny. The text is very readable, equations are explained properly and the diagrams are useful. The reader is left with a good impression of why the currently proposed cosmological models are sensible.

The book puts the case for the hot big bang model, which is by far the most popular cosmological model at this time. There is a chapter on the successes of this model: explanation of the cosmic background radiation, universal expansion, and the relative abundance of elements in the early universe. There follows a chapter on the major problems of this model: how come the background radiation looks the same (to within one part in a hundred thousand) everywhere, even when light hasn't had time to travel between all these regions? How did the universe become structured (into things such as stars) when physics predicts that matter should be homogeneously spread? And why does the universe (seemingly) possess the exact right density (to almost infinitessimal precision) to stay flat, as we see it today? Inflation theory offers some help, but at the same time asks a bigger question: which of the many inflation theories (if any) is right? Liddle doesn't go into much detail on this point, but you get a good introduction into what inflation is and why such an odd theory would be proposed.

I'm making it sound as if the big bang model has more problems than it solves, which I don't think it does (heck, it's the best theory we've got). But the problems are more interesting!

On which subject, there are problems (solvable ones!) at the end of each chapter, with brief solutions at the end of the book.

4-0 out of 5 stars clear as crystal
This book is the most clearly written book I have ever read. Liddle has a knack for making difficult concepts easy to comprehend through his use of analogies and vividly accurate descriptions. The cosmological ideas are explained at an intuitive level and have been imprinted on my mind forever. This book is a great introduction for the less mathematically minded though also a great source of information for others. This book book covers a great amount of cosmology the big bang, nucloesynthesis, inflation, cosmological models etc and is set out in a very logical order. I would thoroughly recommend this as an introduction although for those interested in more mathematical rigour other text books may be necessary.

Well done Dr. Liddle ! A great achievement .............

5-0 out of 5 stars Its cool
Dr Liddle was my academic tutor at Imperial College, London.

I have every trust that his books is as clear as his tutorials. ... Read more


10. The Anthropic Cosmological Principle (Oxford Paperbacks)
by John D. Barrow, Frank J. Tipler
list price: $18.95
our price: $12.89
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0192821474
Catlog: Book (1988-09-01)
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Sales Rank: 43923
Average Customer Review: 4.15 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Ever since Copernicus, scientists have continually adjusted their view of human nature, moving it further and further from its ancient position at the center of Creation. But in recent years, a startling new concept has evolved that places it more firmly than ever in a special position. Known as the Anthropic Cosmological Principle, this collection of ideas holds that the existence of intelligent observers determines the fundamental structure of the Universe. In its most radical version, the Anthropic Principle asserts that "intelligent information-processing must come into existence in the Universe, and once it comes into existence, it will never die out."

This wide-ranging and detailed book explores the many ramifications of the Anthropic Cosmological Principle, covering the whole spectrum of human inquiry from Aristotle to Z bosons.Bringing a unique combination of skills and knowledge to the subject, John D. Barrow and Frank J. Tipler--two of the world's leading cosmologists--cover the definition and nature of life, the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, and the interpretation of the quantum theory in relation to the existence of observers. The book will be of vital interest to philosophers, theologians, mathematicians, scientists, and historians, as well as to anyone concerned with the connection between the vastness of the universe of stars and galaxies and the existence of life within it on a small planet out in the suburbs of the Milky Way. ... Read more

Reviews (13)

5-0 out of 5 stars This Book Should be Famous but Isn't.
This book is a revolutionary treatise on cosmology and the fate of the human species. It is frankly the most breathtaking book I have ever read.

While quite technical in parts, other parts are definitely within the grasp of anyone who learned high school science well and is comfortable with algebra. For instance, it argues that we are probably the only intelligent species in the Milky Way, and that it is our fate to colonise our home galaxy. That, and other arguments in this book should have led to a cover story in Time and Newsweek. It did not, presumably because the astrophysics community views Tipler as being beyond the pale. This book also contains a superb and lengthy discussion of many fascinating topics in the history and philosophy of science. This discussion remains valuable regardless of the future evolution of our understanding of the universe.

I should grant that if it is the case that the expansion of the universe is accelerating and that there is not enough mass in the universe to reverse the process, as astrophysics now suspects, then parts of Barrow and Tipler's argument are in trouble. Also, the other great visionary among modern physicists, Freeman Dyson, has been known to disagrees with Tipler. But I still agree with the authors that the stars are our destiny.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great.
I thought this book was one of the best, I have ever read. The first part is pretty slow but later as you keep going you realise how the argument is progressing. I went over his calculations and I could not fault the writers conclusions.

If you think how much effect mankind has just been civilised on the world in just 6000 years and then that in a relative short period in cosmological terms, measured in millions of years, he will colonise the whole galaxy. This brings up two questions. The first is why has no other SETI race done it and two what effects will mankind have in the future development of the cosmos.

Its definately a book to make you think.

4-0 out of 5 stars An Encyclopaedia of the human philosophical knowledge
I would easily give five stars to this book, wouldn't it be a bit too dense to read.
The book is a mountain of erudition, and the knowledge it contains is impressive. In a certain way it can be regarded as an historical summum of all the human philosophical knowledge from the times of Socrates in Greece till today. For me, it was a difficult book to read, without stopping, from the first page till the last, but I found it better and easier to read as a consulting reference book, digesting slowly the different chapters. The work and research involved are immense, and you can see the size of it by the size of the references at the end of each chapter. A book to keep, and consult, when in need.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Monumental Achievement
We have just passed the 15th Anniversary of the original
publication date of this unparallelled scholarly tour de force. More and more cosmologists have now accepted the anthropic principle, including Weinberg and Hawking, and have incorporated it into their thinking. Yes, this book should be famous, and
someday soon it will be. In the meantime, read it and stretch your brain.

1-0 out of 5 stars my previous review
i would've edited it but i don't see how. basically after i got the book again and read it another time, either i was thinking of another book before or this one has been revised so much i don't even recognize it anymore. it's certainly hard to read, and reads like a research paper and not a book. it still has some nice ideas but way too many annotations; but i coudn't even find the chapter on the von neumann probe. im pretty sure it's the same book and they just revised it too far and lost it's original simplicity. ... Read more


11. The Universe Is a Green Dragon: A Cosmic Creation Story
by Brian Swimme
list price: $14.00
our price: $11.20
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0939680149
Catlog: Book (1984-10-01)
Publisher: Bear & Company
Sales Rank: 18421
Average Customer Review: 4.31 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (16)

5-0 out of 5 stars We can be the heart and mind of the universe.
To meet the modern crisis, Swimme says we need nothing less than a new creation story, a new cosmology.In the light of the new physics, this is what he presents.He says we are such stuff as stars are made of.The cosmos values those who awake to the splendor of the universe.The wonder that is a child has to be appreciated by adults.Our life purpose is to honour the beauty and wonder of the universe.We have to re-invent ourselves as the heart and mind of the universe.We have to move away from a merely human centered view into the cosmocentric, unfolding universe.Our primary teacher is the universe itself.This is a truly inspiring work that lifts us out of a hum-drum existence into an exciting universe fraught with cosmic purpose.Are we up to the challenge?Will we live like blind worms crawling on their bellies?Or will we be charged with star power and grasp our destiny as creators of a new world?Read this book and take a chance!

4-0 out of 5 stars The Universe is a Green Dragon
Thanks for getting the book out so quick!

1-0 out of 5 stars Undiscriminating mix of fact and fancy, patronizing tone
I am a scientist, and I do appreciate and feel the vastness and beauty of the universe, and the elegance of biological evolution. But I don't think Swimme's romanticizing of science, cosmology, and particle physics is going to lead us to build a better society or better individual lives. Educated people have already tried making a god of science in this culture, I presume because of the seeming miracles it has performed, and the result has been people with empty spiritual lives and a desperate need to fill the void with stuff - food, things, travel - anything to avoid facing the sense of meaninglessness they get when they feel like tiny insignificant cogs in a vast machine. It doesn't really matter whether the machine is the military/industrial complex or the universe, in terms of its effect on the human spirit. Granted, the current state of much organized religion is not ideal, but I don't think Swimme's approach is going to have any better results. There are many alternative approaches between religious fundmentalism on one pole and an exclusive devotion to matter on the other.
This particular book is also painful to read, due to its patronizing tone and the way science is mixed with the subjective speculations and opinions of the author. There is a lack of respect for logic or fact in this book, which is surprising considering its topic and the author's credentials. Swimme is misusing the hard-won authority of science, which has performed its seeming miracles by a rigorous attention to observable facts. He owes it to his trusting readers (note the many 5-star reviews at this site) to distinguish clearly between the facts and his interpretations. There is a lack of intellectual humility here, which ironically mirrors his complaint of inappropriate human grandiosity in relation to nature.

5-0 out of 5 stars Why are we all here?
This book is the author's answer to that most basic of questions. His answer is a beautiful, life affirming one and given from the prespective of the cosmos. It also highlights are responsiblity as humans - ones that can be done with great joy. However, I don't know if I really see it as a synthesis of spirituality and science as it is made out to be. This is one of the best books I have ever read, if I only read one book this year, this would be it.

I don't want to give away too much, go read this book.

5-0 out of 5 stars The best book I ever read
I couldn't stand looking at the one star review on the Amazon page that doesn't show that almost all the rest gave five stars. Hands down this is my favorite book -- for all the reasons the eloquent writers of the five star pieces cited. I've bought 400 plus copies -- if you are my friend, you've read it, and if you are someone I've brushed by who is listened to by others, I've pressed a copy in your hands. Understanding the concepts in this book changes you into what it is that hopefully us humans are becoming, where our gratitude for the privilege of human life in this wondrous creation supercedes our proclivity to blow each other up. ... Read more


12. Galactic Dynamics
by James Binney, Scott Tremaine
list price: $65.00
our price: $53.30
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0691084459
Catlog: Book (1988-01-01)
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Sales Rank: 112150
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars Please create an audio adaptation ...
To the publisher I would appreciate it if the publisher could produce an audio adaptation of this book. I would love to listen to this while I drive to work and to let my 16 month old son listen to it as a bedtime story. Arnold D Veness

5-0 out of 5 stars The "Bible" of Galactic Dynamics
This book is a very well-known and widely used reference for students in extragalactic astrophysics and stellar dynamics. A solution manual for the problems would be highly welcomed. ... Read more


13. The WHOLE SHEBANG : A STATE OF THE UNIVERSE S REPORT
by Timothy Ferris
list price: $25.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0684810204
Catlog: Book (1997-05-02)
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Sales Rank: 357069
Average Customer Review: 4.34 out of 5 stars
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Amazon.com

Plenty of books try to explain the origin of the universe, but despite the ascendance of the Big Bang theory, numerous details of that theory remain in flux as new observations are made and new hypotheses formed (and then confirmed or rejected). Timothy Ferris's The Whole Shebang is an up-to-date account of the various mechanisms believed to have contributed to the universe as we now know it, from the Big Bang itself to inflation to superstrings. The Whole Shebang eschews mathematics and formulae and explains cosmological concepts in clear and enticing prose. If you need an update on the state of the universe, you'll find it here. ... Read more

Reviews (56)

5-0 out of 5 stars Stunning summary of the Cosmos
This is an absolutely stunning summary of the leading edge theories of advanced physics in an easy to read and entertaining format. Although nobody can understand a physics book without at least a modicum of knowledge about the basics, Ferris' work manages to remain easy reading until the end. It addresses everything you always wanted to know about quantum physics, cosmology, space-time, unified theories, superstring theory, etc. More importantly, instead of shoving a long, historical introductory chapter into your face (like most other books in this genre tend to do) it sneaks in the relevant historical facts in the form of small, captivating and humorous personal stories that pepper every chapter.

It is getting outdated, of course, as the years go by, but I still haven't seen anything that would be better while remaining just as comprehensive and readable. It is in roughly the same genre as "The Cosmic Code" or "The Dancing Wu Li Masters", but without any pretentious mumbo-jumbo. Finally, it shows much more respect to religion than other works, which is refreshing.

5-0 out of 5 stars This book covers the whole....well, you know
Although he taught English and Journalism at the university of California, Berkeley, Timothy Ferris is one of the more knowledgeable fellows on the planet when it comes to cosmology. And this is, in fact, an extraordinary work on cosmology.

As a pre-requisite to Ferris' book, I would recommend "The First Three Minutes" by Stephen Weinberg. Although Weinberg's book is 20 years old (published, 1979), it is nonetheless still a classic in the cosmology field. It is also rather terse - only 150 or so pages in & out.

Ferris brings us up to to date on many of the "happenings" in cosmology since 1979. He discusses such diverse areas of physics as gravity waves, the mystery of singularities, why black holes have no hair and quantum weirdness (although the latter is an understatement...). I actually preferred this book over the much more famous "A Brief History In Time" by the Cambridge physicist Stephen Hawking. Hawking's prose is a bit more dry than Ferris' and "Brief / Time" does not go as in depth into many important concepts as this book.

So, for those of you who wonder (like me) how in the world the universe began (or, perhaps, how in the universe the world began), this book is for you. Ferris can't answer all your questions, to be sure. But you can learn an awful lot in the process of engaging what we don't know. Also, in addition to this book I would recommend the PBS home video "The Creation Of The Universe" which is hosted by Ferris. It is the best video cosmological documentary I have ever seen (and I have seen quite a few). It, too, is available at Amazon.com

4-0 out of 5 stars The Book of the UNIVERSE
Now there is a plenty of the books of the authors of every possible calibers from various schools and predecessors. All of them are good in own way.

However offered book is laborious work of the author giving to generalize and to inform to us in the form the unique summary of a basis cosmology.

And so it is time to begin to understand with this cosmology. Please, take and read this book. It will be useful both schoolboy, and student, and pensioner.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Brilliant Book on our Universe
This is the most coherent (and in depth) book on the cosmos I have ever read. I have numerous books on "the universe", gravity, astrophysics, physics, etc, but this book is FAR and AWAY the most lucid thing I have ever read on the topic. Generally I like to skip around to certain sections of interest to me but with this book, the WHOLE THING is incredibly fascinating. I also bought the Audio Version (which he reads himself) and it is very well read. If you want to know the fascinating structure and workings of the Universe you live in, THIS IS THE BOOK. I think it is a shame that most people go through their whole lives not knowing how cool this Universe really is. His discussion of Gravity and "the SHAPE of space" is a perfect example. Just read it and you will find out. Things are not always what they seem. An amazing book!

5-0 out of 5 stars A Great Book.
The Whole Shebang is a marvelous book that expertly explains the working of the universe in a simple and understandable manner, which almost ever reader will comprehend. Whether you're an amateur cosmologist, or just an average Joe (or Joe-Ann) who wants to learn a little about the universe, this book is for you! Ferris does a wonderful job of explaining all the basics of the universe, in a loose and fluid writing style, without overwhelming the reader, making the book a lighter read then some of its counterparts. Does this sound too much like a commercial? Well, if it does, I'm sorry. But this book is by far the best educational literature I have ever read. ... Read more


14. The Sleepwalkers: A History of Man's Changing Vision of the Universe (Arkana S.)
by Arthur Koestler
list price: $17.00
our price: $11.56
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Asin: 0140192468
Catlog: Book (1990-05-01)
Publisher: Penguin Books
Sales Rank: 37311
Average Customer Review: 4.62 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (13)

5-0 out of 5 stars a little-known masterpiece
A physicist friend told me about this book, endorsing it as the best and most accurate treatment of the elucidation of the motions of the planets. When I picked it up, I found myself transported not just to the early Renaissance, but to Greece, where the story begins with Pythagoras and others. Koestler approached this as a lone intellectual, rather than an acacdemic, which means that he went back and read all the original sources to see things for himself rather than rely on secondary texts. That gave him a vivid feel for what these discoverers thought and did that is sadly absent from most survey histories available.

The result is a unique master work, in which you feel you get to know Copernicus, Kepler, and Galileo as well as their classical predecessors. The science is explained as are the dead ends, and some harsh judgements made: Koestler was not timid! He also succeeds is putting the discoveries into context, as the standard against which scientific discovery has come to be measured.

Though I studied this in high school physics, this is what truly made this period come alive for me. I will reread this for years to come.

3-0 out of 5 stars Good History, but the Epilogue . . .
The book begins with an interesting account of the development of modern astronomy with particular emphasis on Copernicus and Kepler. The section on the trial of Galileo brought up valid points on Galileo's "martyrdom".

Unfortunately, the epilogue drew some questionable conclusions. First, Koestler cast doubt on quantum theory and compared it to the epicycles of the Ptolemaic and Copernican theories. He seems to have ignored some of the lessons pointed out earlier in the book. It was the careful and systematic observations of Tycho Brahe that provided crucial data in the development of Newtonian gravity. Likewise, quantum theory is based on numerous careful and systematic measurements on many different systems. This was true even back when the book was written. I would say that he sounds like the Aristotelian looking at Kepler's ellipses and asserting, "This is not what a good theory looks like."

Second, Koestler seems to have believed strongly in ESP and similar psychic phenomena. He claims that evidence exists validating these beliefs. He did not provide any references, probably because real trials just can't find any such thing.

In spite of these problems, the book is worth reading for the historical points that he brings up.

5-0 out of 5 stars Everyone should read it
Fascinating account of the history of astronomy through the discovery of classical mechanics by Kepler, Galileo and Newton. We may see it as the history of the replacement of religious-based dogmatism by what physicists today call the Galilean approach: the discovery and consequent mathematical description of nature throughy repeated, identical experiments or observations. This is the book that wheted my appetite for the history of physics. For the serious reader, there are also Julian Barbour's Absolute or Relative Motion and Fred Hoyle's history of Copernicus's contribution. Of interest as well, if less exciting, are Galileo's Dialogues.

5-0 out of 5 stars Koestler is brilliant
Arthur Koestler was one of the most remarkable intellects of the twentieth century. In the course of his life and career he experienced and wrote about most of the great movements and changes of his times. Typically, he perceived patterns long before others, inevitably with a truly unique understanding, and wrote about them beautifully.

In The Sleepwalkers, Koestler traced what he thought to be the mainstream of the development of science through exquisitely researched and written biographies of some of science's leading figures. There's no part of the book that isn't well worth reading, but I think that his treatments of Copernicus and Kepler are hair-raisingly insightful.

Readers can confidently expect to put down The Sleepwalkers with increased knowledge and new insights about the history of science and the stellar figures Koestler describes. Still, don't expect a quick read. Koestler thinks and writes in depth, and takes the time to guide readers where he wants to take them.

Robert Adler
Science Writer
Author of Science Firsts: From the Creation of Science to the Science of Creation (John Wiley & Sons, 2002, ISBN 0471401749).

5-0 out of 5 stars A definitive history of Cosmology
This is book on the history of cosmology - make no mistake. It tries to illustrate Koestlers masterly thesis in the epilogue on the nature of genius and creativity, and the path of scientific progress. The example he uses is the history of cosmology. Having begun his book so, and paying attention to this mode of thought in the introduction, Koestler soon sets down to business

He begins with the Pythagorean brotherhood and delves a little into the man that Pythagoras was, and speaks of the contributions of Plato and Aristotle in this arena. So rigid is Koestlers focus, that this is perhaps the first book which speaks of Plato and Aristotle with reference to only their works in astronomy and completely ignores Socrates, who had no contribution to this field. The book neglects more ancient theories and incorrect faiths. Rather it concentrates with laserlike intensity on the people who made the Science what it is, namely Copernicus, Tycho Brahe, Kepler and Galileo. Once we are through with the Greeks and the intermittent period, the book rapidly moves into a breathtaking narrative, almost biographical, about these giants, on whose shoulder Newton stood and saw further.

Koestler also brings to the reader correspondence and definitive evidence that debunks most of scientific history into the realm of folklore, and shows how different a path cosmological studies have taken. He debunks many old viewpoints and theories and shows the true history of science to be very different. He ends with Newtons arrival on the scene, and leaves us begging for more

In his epilogue, Koestler returns to his construct on sleepwalking and the nature of genius, and in a masterly flourish, the book suddenly picks up pace like never before, and ends leaving the reader wanting to read it all again!

Quite simply a must read, and a must-have book for any book lover ... Read more


15. Accretion Power in Astrophysics (Cambridge Astrophysics S.)
by Juhan Frank, Andrew King, Derek Raine
list price: $50.00
our price: $50.00
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Asin: 0521629578
Catlog: Book (2002-01-17)
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Sales Rank: 421096
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Book Description

This newly expanded and thoroughly updated third edition examines accretion as a source of energy in both binary star systems containing compact objects, and in active galactic nuclei. Assuming a basic knowledge of physics, the authors describe the physical processes at work in accretion discs and other accretion flows. New material includes a detailed treatment of disc instabilities, irradiated discs, disc warping, and general accretion flows. The treatment is suitable for advanced undergraduates, graduate students and researchers. ... Read more


16. The Invisible Universe
by David Malin
list price: $60.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0821226282
Catlog: Book (1999-10-01)
Publisher: I B S Books Stocked
Sales Rank: 279638
Average Customer Review: 4.69 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

" The most beautiful collection of astronomical photographs ever published, in a magnificent oversize format.

Human beings have always sought meaning in the mysterious dark of the night sky. Stargazers of antiquity recorded the procession of the constellations, naming them for gods and mythological creatures. Modern astronomers continue the search for meaning, probing ever farther into time and space to map the universe and determine its nature and origins.Today's sophisticated telescopes peer far beyond the ancient constellations to a universe more beautiful than our forebears could have imagined.The Invisible Universetakes us into the hearts of these constellations with more than fifty stunning reproductions of David Malin's luminous photographs of distant stars, nebulae, and galaxies.

Using some of the most powerful Earth-based telescopes, astronomer and photographer Malin has spent over twenty years painstakingly capturing the previously undetected colors and forms of gas, dust, and light in the farthest reaches of space.The unusual photographic process that Malin devised requires three different exposures, which may be taken years apart, in order to produce each picture.

The Invisible Universe gloriously reproduces the results of his labors on an unprecedented scale. Enriched with the history of the constellations and early observational renderings, this one magnificent volume unites the timeless enchantment of space with the excitement of new astronomical discoveries.

Arranged by constellation like an antique star atlas,The Invisible Universeshowcases such spectacular sights as the Great Orion Nebula, the Rosette Nebula, and the Jewel Box Cluster. The informative and entertaining text combines the science, poetry, and lore behind these glorious objects.It outlines the story of their discovery and observation along with vivid description of the life cycles of stars, setting them in the context of their distance, age, and environment.

Lavishly designed and printed by Callaway Editions, with figures from classical celestial charts and apt quotations from Shakespeare, Dante, Donne, and Tennyson,The Invisible Universeis a delight, to be pored over by lovers of astronomy, literature, philosophy, and photography alike. " ... Read more

Reviews (13)

5-0 out of 5 stars Its size does justice to the its subject
I gave my husband a telescope for his birthday last summer, and have since become an astronomy widow - better than being a football widow! I wanted to give him a Christmas gift of something spectacular that wasn't technological, since I know nothing about it, and saw a review of this book. So I took a chance and bought it. What a success!

The book is cumbersome because of its size, but the upside of that is that it forces you to sit down at a table and really LOOK at it - this is not a browsing book. Each image is more spectacular than the previous, and the photographs are so beautifully done, so artistic, that they look almost painterly. The realization that this stuff actually exists, is really out there, in all this color and glory, is tremendously exciting. A "normal"-sized book could never do the photographs justice - this book had to be this size. The Horsehead Nebula is so other-worldly, so amazing, that words fail me and only photos like these can describe it.

This book, more than any other I've seen, transports me off the planet and makes me realize how unimaginably vast the universe really is - and fills me with awe that we silly humans with our puny little machines can actually see this much!

I recommend this book without reservation to anyone with an interest in astronomy, art, photography... I sure am glad I gave it to US!

5-0 out of 5 stars A big treasure of a book...
I recently bought a copy of 'The Invisible Universe' for myself and I was blown away by each and every one of these astounding images that David Malin assembled and finally published in an appropriate format (finally a book whose size dares to do the content justice!). I am not (yet!) an expert on this subject matter, but it also proved to be a very interesting read with lots of interesting quotes and references. The oversized images convey the beauty of the subject matter as well as the purpose of science. They're not only very precise documentary photographs of constellations, nebulas and supernovas, but also a very poetic and artistic look (some of the images even reminded me of Ross Bleckner's paintings) at the vast universe that inspired me to let my imagination run wild. I applaud the people who made this book. It's a treasure! I especially appreciate the contrast of the vivid and saturated large photographs and the historic drawings and maps (and the juxtapositions of the two), which makes it more than just a pretty book but also a great reference for people like me, who are just starting to get into astronomy. I recommend this book for everyone who looks up at the stars and wonders if there is anything else out there. Carl Sagan would have loved this one! Ps: read the appendix to find out how these pictures were taken. -> My favorite one is called 'Storm of Orion'

5-0 out of 5 stars A jewel...
This book, in it's bountiful size and otherworldly beauty commands attention. It was in stock at a bookstore I used to work at, and I had to look at it every week. The photos inside are so lush and gorgeous that they will make you wish you had a larger print to hang up in your apartment. This photography book captures some of the most beautiful, mysterious forces known to us. From magnificent galaxies to nebulas daunting in their size colors, only a book of this size could begin to give the true essence of what is out there. A picture is worth a universe of words.

5-0 out of 5 stars Words don't do it Justice
Perhaps the most superb collection of astronomical and cosmological photographs I've ever seen in one collection. If you have even the faintest interest in astronomy or cosmology, do yourself a kind service and buy this book. You will never look at the stars the same way again. This book renders a perspective on the universe and our tiny place in it like no other.

As for the size, it is a little large but several of the photos demand it. The person who commented on the image quality certainly doesn't have a strong grasp of astro photography or he surely wouldn't criticize. This is a masterful work.

5-0 out of 5 stars Not your average coffee-table book!
I think one of the reviewers has his wires a little crossed. The book quite clearly states that the photographs were all taken by David Malin using the Anglo-Australian Telescope, NOT by the Hubble Space Telescope! There are several other excellent publications covering HST photographs if that's your desire. How anyone can possibly complain about the photos being grainy and repetitive is totally beyond me(?) This is a magnificent publication by the world's foremost GROUND-BASED Astro-photographer. No more, no less. Spend 10 minutes just staring at the photo of the Trifid Nebula. It has a depth to it that no amount of digital manipulation could possibly produce or duplicate; Hubble or otherwise. It makes me feel proud that these pictures were taken less than 40 kilometres from my old hometown. I agree with one of the other reviewers concerning this and Ken Croswell's book. Buy both of 'em! ... Read more


17. The First Three Minutes: A Modern View of the Origin of the Universe
by Steven Weinberg
list price: $16.95
our price: $11.53
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Asin: 0465024378
Catlog: Book (1993-06-01)
Publisher: Basic Books
Sales Rank: 51020
Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

The classic of contemporary science writing by a Nobel Prize-winning physicist explains what happened when the universe began, and how we know. ... Read more

Reviews (10)

5-0 out of 5 stars Brilliant book but some physics knowledge required
Beautifully written and highly recommended. Some physics knowledge is required but not much - certainly not undergraduate level. I wish Amazon would provide some editorial presence and delete the gibberish previous post titled "A creationist's fairytail on moving sands". This person populates his so-called review with a smattering of physics terms but makes absolutely no sense at all.

5-0 out of 5 stars Wonderful. A source of ideas.
A masterpiece. Weinberg was able to keep all the physics, with almost no mathematics. There is, in this book, a sense of drama seldom to be found in scientific books. You should start your cosmology studies here, independently of how far you intend to go.

2-0 out of 5 stars A creationist's fairytail on moving sands
At least some comments from a professional theoretical physicists who does not share major premises of Prof. Weinberg's physics. Just for those readers who are taking everything in books of this type for granted.

Which "3 minutes"? It is a true curiosity: General Relativity was invented to eliminate an absolute Newtonian concept of time from physics. But now, in the most ultra-relativistic situation one can imagine, Weingerg's physics is just back with the concept of absolute time - or better to say - any external time, because the concept of time is physically completely undefined by these cosmologists.

But there are also fundamental questions about Weinberg's interpretation of another underlying theory - quantum mechanics. Another paradox: Weinberg obviously believes that quantum wave functions are some real physically existing objects, and also that probabilities are physically real. But this is definitely not the view of Quantum Mechanics of Bohr, Heisenberg or Schroedinger, who recognized and emphasized that quantum probabilities are just representations of our incomplete information. In similar misleading way Weinberg also struggles with another intrinsically probabilistic theory - Statistical Thermodynamics, and associated Second Law. This makes for Weinberg extremely cumbersome to make the time-origin (singularity) compatible with the Maximum Entropy Principle, to avoid a "heat death" paradox in "his" universe, to define a physically meaningful time near his singularity by entropy, etc.

Concerning the Big Bang and three notorious arguments of its believers: (1) A strong link between the Red Shift and Doppler effect, supposed also by Weinberg, is still very uncertain; some other natural explanations exist in physical literature and has only been ignored, but still never refuted by any serious analysis; (2) Planck's black-body radiation law can hardly be used for any decisions between prospective geometries of the universe, as the same law is resulting for different geometries of the universe; (3) Arguments from particle physics are highly circular, because they actually presume the cosmological model to be proven.

But there are perhaps even more fundamental questions about the Big Bang hypothesis, e.g. its elementary clashes with thermodynamics and information theory, never mentioned by (and maybe unknown to) Prof. Weinberg and the Big-bang camp.

In summary, the whole cosmological narrative of Prof. Weinberg might be still closer to a fairytail than to science, and even his interpretations of basic underlying theories (quantum physics, general relativity, statistical thermodynamics) are highly questionable or even misleading. For creationists and people with some religious philosophy (which is also Prof. Weinberg's case) the Big-Bang narrative might be appealing, but definitely not all competent scientists necessarily see things this way. In my opinion, this is not emphasized enough in this highly speculative and physically somewhat too-fast book.

5-0 out of 5 stars You don't have to be a physicist to understand this book
I am a true layman, having had NO education in physics beyond high school "physical science." However, I have read Hawking's "Brief History of Time," Timothy Ferris' "The Whole Shebang," and read Scientific American. I say this to point out that you do not need to bring a great deal of knowledge to the table to appreciate this book, provided you have some aptitude for cosomology. And, sure, it helps to have a passing acquaintance with General Relativity, Special Relativity, and some of the basics of particle physics. I can't imagine anybody would pick up this book if they didn't already have some passing interest in cosmology and had read a few magazine articles.

The text is clear and, considering the subject matter, amazingly brief. The author does not dummy down the mathematics too much either, which is a fault of some books written for laymen. On the other hand, he also doesn't overwhelm the reader with mathematics either. He wisely chooses to include a mathematics appendix and lets you either explore the math or not.

Quantum mechanics and general relatively are not particularly "intuitive" topics, so any beginning reader is going to have to read this slowly, carefully, and with some patience. But the book is as clear and open to lay people as I've yet encountered.

And, frankly, I think any educated lay person should have a BASIC understanding of the principles in this book. For the curious, this is a great place to start. And even if you've been through the "story" before, this book is great for reinforcing the story of the birth of the universe in a concise, holistic layout.

5-0 out of 5 stars A classic documentary on the origin of the universe
Stephen Weinberg received his Ph.D. in theoretical physics from Harvard university and has taught at the university of Texas for decades. He won the Nobel prize in physics in 1979 and has worked with such distinguished personages as the late Richard P. Feynman. In short, he is one of the leading minds in his field.

The First Three Minutes is an unusual book in astronomy / cosmology because it is now over 20 years old & yet it is STILL one of the classics of the "story" of the universe for the layman & non-expert. The book takes us on an exhilerating journey all the way back to the Plank epoch (10^-43 seconds after the Big Bang). Weinberg also deals with Einstein's theory of Relativity (which predicted the Big Bang), the Hubble Red Shift (the discovery that the universe is expanding) as well as the detection of the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) in the 1960's by Ralph Wilson and Arno Penzias. All three of these factors, plus numerous other details all form the foundation for the way most scientists think about our universe (presently known as the Big Bang theory).

One of the things about Weinberg that I admire is that, like Carl Sagan, he concedes that he MIGHT be wrong, but that what he has to work with is the best paradigm available. This is brutally honest & also quite a refreshing approach. I tire quickly of reading science books that are written by individuals who are so conceited as to believe they know everything there is to know. One certainly does not have to worry about that type of arrogance with Weinberg.

So, if you even have a passing interest in cosmology, I would HIGHLY recommend this book. The book may be especially appealing to many people as it is 150 pages in & out (anyone who has ever browsed the science shelf at their local bookstore can readily see that there have been far longer books written on this topic). But oh, what a plethora of info that Weinberg furnishes in those 150 pages!

All in all, this is a very readable book which deals with a quite recondite topic. ... Read more


18. Cosmological Physics (Cambridge Astrophysics S.)
by John A. Peacock
list price: $55.00
our price: $42.90
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0521422701
Catlog: Book (1998-12-28)
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Sales Rank: 133192
Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

This textbook provides advanced undergraduate and graduate students with a complete introduction to modern cosmology. It successfully bridges the gap between undergraduate and advanced graduate texts by discussing topics of current research, starting from first principles. Throughout this authoritative volume, emphasis is given to the simplest, most intuitive explanation for key equations used by researchers. The first third of the book carefully develops the necessary background in general relativity and quantum fields. The rest of the book then provides self-contained accounts of all the key topics in contemporary cosmology, including inflation, topological defects, gravitational lensing, galaxy formation, large-scale structure and the distance scale. To aid understanding, the book is well illustrated with helpful figures and includes outline solutions to more than ninety problems. All necessary astronomical jargon is clearly explained, ensuring the book is self-contained for any student with undergraduate physics. ... Read more

Reviews (5)

3-0 out of 5 stars Borrow it first .
I got this book on short term inter-library loan hoping to further my knowledge of inflationary cosmology. I don't think that this is a suitable volume from which to begin study of this topic unless you have a supervisor on hand for occasional help.The chapter on inflation for example summarises standard results. I found derivations of these not to be explained fully enough for a first encounter. The derivation of the basic equations of motion for the scalar field cosmologies from the Lagrangian is an example.The slow -roll parameters and their relationship to the Friedmann equations are summarised - (a much fuller discussion of these is given in Scott Watson's e -book - see below).This sometimes terse approach can make the book heavy going for people like me working on their own for 'fun'.I did enjoy the chapter though as I had already studied a lot of the material using John Norbury's e-book 'General Relativity'(pdf and html available -contains quite a few errors but inflation is very clearly explained),Scott Watson's (pdf/html)'Exposition on inflationary cosmology'and numerous preprints from the e-archives. With mastery of this material under my belt I therefore found Peacock's material on this topic readable and enjoyable although I did not learn anything new from it. The problems (and solution hints) were good.I enjoyed the chapters on the rudiments of GR (being already very familiar with this albeit from long ago)but again the treatment is brief and constitutes a review rather than a place to start learning GR from.
Dipping into the chapters of material new to me, I could see little hope of personal progress here using this book as a starting point.I realise however that the book covers a huge amount of varied material much of which has been developed in the last twenty years and the book needs to be kept to a sensible size.My perspective is that of someone dabbling independently in their sparetime twenty years after leaving university. I daresay a beginning PhD student might view it in a different light.

5-0 out of 5 stars Cosmology resources
Great book. Unlike many other cosmology books it is very up to date. Should be used with another book, such as Rowan-Robinson or Kolb and Turner for class atmosphere. It is a little lacking in examples, while the presentation is very good. This book is for the undergraduate senior or the graduate student.

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent book.
Very lucid and up-to-date description of cosmology and relativity, with the right balance of qualitative discussion, presentation of the important observations, and mathematical formalism.

1-0 out of 5 stars Possibly the worst book that I own
This book is possibly the worst book that I own. I found it totally incomprehensible. The other reviewer must have only flipped through the book and not attempted to read it. I admit that the book looks good when flipping through it, but don't be decieved.

This book was used in a cosmology class that I took, but was abandoned after 1 week because it was so bad.

Try to find another book!

5-0 out of 5 stars This is the best book on the subject
This is a very comprehensive book, clearly written, and very up-to-date, which is very important in this fast moving field. As a researcher, I find it a very useful reference work. ... Read more


19. Stephen Hawking's Universe: The Cosmos Explained
by David Filkin, Stephen Hawking
list price: $22.00
our price: $14.96
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0465081983
Catlog: Book (1998-10-01)
Publisher: Basic Books
Sales Rank: 246674
Average Customer Review: 3.95 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (20)

3-0 out of 5 stars A Brief Version of "A Brief History"
The title "Stephen Hawking's Universe" may give you the wrong impression about this book, because one would naturally associate Stephen Hawking with more in-depth scientific theories. However, this book is in fact no more than an introduction to the histories and discoveries of our universe. That is, it is more of a "tell-tale" than an explanation type of book, and should not be compared with books like "A Brief History of Time" (by Stephen Hawking himself).

In terms of presentation, this book does a great job in showing us the discoveries made by various scientists of the past and present in a fairly logical order. The beautiful illustrations used also contribute in helping the readers to understand and to maintain interest in the contents. Nevertheless, at times the author does seem to lose focus on the topics, and they become slightly more difficult to follow. Quite often you have to read on a couple of pages (or even chapters) before you are taken back on track.

To summarise, the book provides a clear outline of human's knowledge of the universe in a very graphical manner, and would be suited to those new to such concepts. However, if you are expecting explanation of greater depths, then you will probably be disappointed.

5-0 out of 5 stars Best book describing the best cosmological principles
Stephen Hawking's universe is one of the very few books of its kind. It describes the complex and beautiful picture of our cosmos as presented by the most famous living scientist of the world. This book will prove helpful and informative for all those who are concerned with the universe and also with Professor Hawking.
Stephen Hawking's universe is such a book which tends to describe a difficult subject with simplicity and ace. Thus any one out there who is intrested in cosmology and is waiting for a new arrival the please do have a look at this one.

1-0 out of 5 stars Beware! You will be dumber after reading this!
I've always enjoyed Stephen Hawking's writings, as in them he clearly explains things without condescendingly simplifying them, mixes humor with science, and conveys the awe and thrill of scientific discovery. However, once I got past the forward of this book (the only part written my Hawking), I could see that this book was a complete failure. I should have known when someone got me the book; Filkin is a total non-scientist and I now know is scientifically illiterite.

I was first confronted with horrid and sometimes malicious (or at least maddeningly stupid) terminology errors. For example, throughout the book, a brown dwarf is said to be a cooled-down white dwarf. WRONG! A brown dwarf is a starlike object too small to start thermonuclear fusion, so it produces heat and light by contracting; this is the definition according to the International Astronomical Union, the body which defines all astronomical, astrophysical, and cosmological terminology. This is just one of many such errors.
The terminology I had the biggest problem with was the wrongful (indeed, gratuitous) use of the word "creationism." It is relatively apparent that Filkin means the idea that the universe was created at some time, but it is still the wrong word. Either it was placed in there by Filkin (I think unlikely) or the publishers (more likely) to cave to the 45% of this backwards country which seriously believes creationism (in the sense of what the word really means), or (maybe a little more likely)used without thinking. This leads to my next big problem with the book.

Rather than sticking to the science, or at least pointing out how science sharply contrasts with "faith," Filkin spends a large amount of time talking about how science and religion (specifically Christianity) go hand-in-hand. He even makes up malicious falsities, frequently claiming that science at least partially supports Christianity (actually, he said it supporst "creationism"), and that important discoveries were held up by the dogma of "atheist scientists." One particularly despicable example is his claim that after Hubble discovered the Hubble flow, its reality and logical conclusions were denied and held back by "atheist scientists," being unwilling to accept the idea that the universe began (and hence doesn't violate the 2nd law of thermodynamics). Nothing could be further from the truth! The Hubble flow was looked upon very skeptically for over a decade because the original measurements put the age of the universe as less than the then-known age of the Earth.

Lastly, there are the contradictory statements. Filkin often makes statements contrary to the 'evidence' he supports it with, if there is any. One example is as follows: "churchgoing" scientist were shunned and forced to hide their beliefs from the 18th to the 20th centuries because (a) they believed in a moment of creation despite the official church policy that the universe was infinite, (b) the "atheist scientists" believed, like Newton, that the universe was infinite, and (c) these two beliefs (the church's and the atheist concepts) are different. If you were paying attention, you'd know these beliefs are NOT different, and hence not in conflict.

I put the book down after a few chapters of being frustrated not learning anything, frequently needing to correct Filkin, and seeing a creationist-propagandist's dream come true (regardless of what Filkin meant, I've seen quotes from this book paraded around by creationists). Finally, I would like to point out my disgust with Hawking for having a book like this sold with his stamp of approval.

5-0 out of 5 stars Fabulous book
This book starts with Ptolemy, proceeds to Galileo and eventually to Einstein and Planck. Any one who has ever been interested in science will love this book.

2-0 out of 5 stars A grave disappointment
As a fan of Stephen Hawking, I was anxious to read this work - looking forward once again to his humorous and "banally-esoteric" approach to science. But I was gravely disappointed. My own fault really, for not reading the editorials, the reviews... or even the jacket!

If I'd only glanced at the bottom of the jacket I would have known that Hawking (whose photo and name are the most dominant features on the cover) had only written the forward to this book, and nothing else. Go figure.

But in spite of that, I began to eat from it greedily, expecting that it would at least resemble the familiar and palatable taste of a Hawking work. I was wrong of course. So then I felt sort of cheated. I guess I resent being hoodwinked. But then maybe I'm just too sensitive.

Apparently, David Filkin's approach to literary science is to be condescendingly simple. Which is okay if you promote it that way. But if you fire your intentions from the ramparts of Stephen Hawking's identity, I think it'd be best to run somewhat parallel to his reader's level of awareness, and allow us the dignity of licking the wounds of our own self-esteems as they occur.

The book attempts to be a chronological outline of scientific discovery. At times though, it becomes almost predictable - and as a result, boring. At other times, it wanders (Hawking wanders too, but he does so for good reasons, and usually has me laughing before he's back on track). Further moments are occupied with repetition, contradiction and redundancies - not to mention a maddening penchant for patting my head, and saying, "I know you didn't understand that, so here's a simpler explanation".

I had the nagging feeling that Filkin was being careful not to overburden the reader with science. Or at least the kind of science that requires explaining. Sure, I'm not a whiz at chemistry, and I flunked calculus twice, but at least give me a chance to feel stupid where I fully expect to. Don't tread softly on me if you think I won't understand it, especially if you're representing Stephen Hawking for Pete's sake!

Don't get me wrong - I am not a Stephen Hawking fanatic with a get-even agenda (I've had my moments with portions of Hawking's work a time or two also). My exasperation is purely clinical - I expect to get what I pay for. Or at least what I see on the cover.

Not recommended ... Read more


20. Galactic Astronomy
by James Binney, Michael Merrifield
list price: $55.00
our price: $45.10
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0691025657
Catlog: Book (1998-08-17)
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Sales Rank: 110048
Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

This is the definitive treatment of the phenomenology of galaxies--a clear and comprehensive volume that takes full account of the extraordinary recent advances in the field. The book supersedes the classic text Galactic Astronomy that James Binney wrote with Dimitri Mihalas, and complements Galactic Dynamics by Binney and Scott Tremaine. It will be invaluable to researchers and is accessible to any student who has a background in undergraduate physics.

The book draws on observations both of our own galaxy, the Milky Way, and of external galaxies. The two sources are complementary, since the former tends to be highly detailed but difficult to interpret, while the latter is typically poorer in quality but conceptually simpler to understand. Binney and Merrifield introduce all astronomical concepts necessary to understand the properties of galaxies, including coordinate systems, magnitudes and colors, the phenomenology of stars, the theory of stellar and chemical evolution, and the measurement of astronomical distances. The book's core covers the phenomenology of external galaxies, star clusters in the Milky Way, the interstellar media of external galaxies, gas in the Milky Way, the structure and kinematics of the stellar components of the Milky Way, and the kinematics of external galaxies.

Throughout, the book emphasizes the observational basis for current understanding of galactic astronomy, with references to the original literature. Offering both new information and a comprehensive view of its subject, it will be an indispensable source for professionals, as well as for graduate students and advanced undergraduates. ... Read more

Reviews (5)

5-0 out of 5 stars There is NO better book
For observational astronomy this is it: there is no better book The fact that the information is somehow out of date is not important, because the subject is mainly how the results are obtained, rather than the results themselves. This is a professional book for professional astronomers, cosmologists and astrophysicists at a graduate level. At this level the math is trivial. Most problems are very simple and do not involve difficult calculations, but rather simple, intuitive reasoning. In fact the math is simple enough that the book should be useful also for (very) advanced amateur astronomers.

The book only seems difficult because it contains so much information. This is actually an advantage, especially given the very reasonable price. The writing style is very clear. As an example I will quote verbatim the author's description of the importance of "dust" in interstellar space:

"The space between the stars is not empty. It is filled with rarefied but exceedingly filthy gas; if this gas were compressed to the density of ordinary air [...] the density of smoke in it would be such that objects would disappear into the haze at a distance of much less than a meter. Interstellar gas is so filthy because many stars are furnaces of the least environment-friendly type..."

Is this not clear enough?

5-0 out of 5 stars Just an amazing textbook covering masses of astrophysics...
This book is, as it says on the cover, for readers with a background in physics - specifically, for professionals, graduate students, and advanced undergraduates. It will therefore be heavily mathematical, as there is no other way in which to express the theories within, and to quantitatively distinguish between them - an essential part of all scientific research.

The ideas are explained clearly, and there are frequent up-to-date references: the book was published mid-1998, and updated quite a lot from its previous incarnation. Where a field is moving very rapidly, like in parts of astrophysics, there is clearly always a danger that the work will become out of date, but most (at least all I have had to read) of what is in this book is still current.

This book is not only beautifully written, and presented, it also covers an incredible range of subjects, making it suitable not only for background reading for those who study galactic astrophysics, but also those working in stellar astrophysics. The authors clearly know their stuff in very wide-ranging areas of astrophysics, and are passionate about them, as it comes across very clearly, and adds to the joy of reading this book.

One of the many things that makes this such a wonderful book is the clear linking of astrophysical phenomena with basic physics, something which is easy to lose sight of when confronted with exotic objects and processes. A particularly lovely example of this (IMO) is the explanation of the effects of the kappa-mechanism in variable stars in terms of the humble heat engine in thermodynamics.

Admittedly, if you were wanting an introduction to galactic astronomy this would not be the book for you, but, for its target audience it is an amazing book.

1-0 out of 5 stars Very badly written - and confusing...
I read the complete book but I must admit I understood very little of it. The main reason for this is that the authors seem to have written the book for those who already are fully versed in the technical details of the subject. I am not, and I was hoping this book would elevate my understanding of the field. Unfortunately it did not. Furthermore, I found the book completely lacking in information about the more recent discoveries in cosmology. It appears to be about ten years behind.

1-0 out of 5 stars Very disappointing
There are three specific areas in which this book fails. I will address them in turn: 1) The information is way out of date. Although the publishing date is recent, the authors have made very little attempt to present the major advances that have occurred in this science over the last few years. As a result of this problem, there is some critical information in the book that is simply inaccurate. The information reflects understandings that are five to ten years old - not what we know today. 2) The writing style is very difficult to follow. The authors seem to think they are writing for their fellow professional astronomers, not for students. They don't explain the concepts sufficiently and they end up leaving the reader confused and disappointed. 3) About half the pages are mostly mathematics. This is fine if you understand advanced math and you can follow the authors reasoning. The problem is that as I closely checked the math I found glaring errors in it. On just about every few pages there would be a math error. This makes it that much more difficult to understand the information. I would suggest you save your money - and frustration! Find a better book.

4-0 out of 5 stars Thorough treatment of the subject of Galaxies
Galactic Astronomy is one of the most complete and up to date texts on the subject of galaxies. The text is not lacking in mathematical rigor and also includes the results of recent observations and analyses that complement the theoretical exposition of subjects. It ties together results from many fields and is a good text for anyone who is interested in the study of our Milky Way or of external galaxies. The first chapters include a good description of such basic topics as coordinate systems, astrometry, the magnitude scale, stellar spectra, and binary star kinematics. Other chapters include the Milky Way's stars, stellar populations, interstellar medium, star clusters, and stellar kinematics and show how our knowledge of these has been applied to better understand external galaxies as well. There are also chapters on galaxy morphology and the cosmological distance scale. Nice features of the book include a handy listing of astronomical research aids that are available on the world wide web, as well as lists of astronomical sky surveys and catalogs. Altogether, Galactic Astronomy is worth reading by any professional astronomer, grad student, or advanced undergraduate with an interest in the study of galaxies. ... Read more


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