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Bang!: The Complete History of the Universe Paperback – 3 Sep 2009

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Product details

  • Paperback: 200 pages
  • Publisher: Carlton Books Ltd; Revised edition edition (3 Sept. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847323367
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847323361
  • Product Dimensions: 23 x 1.5 x 28 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 499,130 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description


This stunningly illustrated book deals with a complicated subject in a way everyone can understand. --The Independent

About the Author

Though best known as the lead guitarist for the supergroup Queen, Brian May also studied for a PhD in astrophysics before giving up the academic life for rock music. Patrick Moore is the world's best-loved astronomer, author of more than 100 books and presenter of the world's longest running TV programme, BBC's "The Sky at Night". Chris Lintott is the co-presenter, with Patrick, of "The Sky at Night". He took his first degree in Physics at Cambridge, then his PhD in Astrophysics at University College London, and is now doing further research at Oxford.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

42 of 44 people found the following review helpful By Rob Hardy on 31 Dec. 2006
Format: Hardcover
It has taken 13.7 billion years, but the Universe has finally produced a coffee-table quality book to commemorate the Big Bang and its consequences. _Bang! The Complete History of the Universe_ (Carlton Books) by Brian May, Patrick Moore, and Chris Lintott is not massive, as coffee-table books go, but its big format is perfect for the dramatic sorts of pictures that the Hubble Space Telescope or the larger Earth-bound telescopes can give us. It isn't just pictures, however. The text does an exemplary job of covering a huge amount of information. Necessarily, in 190 pages laid over with photos, details are skipped; on one page are both the disaster of the Permian Extinction 250 million years ago and the Cretaceous Extinction (wiping out the dinosaurs) 65 million years ago. There is the most detail in the earliest pages of the book, dealing with the events before around 700 million years ago, when there started to be discrete objects like galaxies that we could have actually seen, had we been there at that time. (In a sense, we do see them at that time, as the Hubble's lovely deep field images can show.) This is also the part of the book that makes the least sense to those of us who are stuck in a Newtonian world. There are books with fuller explanations of the strangeness of the Universe immediately after the Big Bang, but none quite so much fun.

For fun is obviously part of the trip the three authors have taken, and it starts right on the cover, which above the book's title shows a huge, glowing, fragmented fireball, obviously the Big Bang in progress. "Our cover artwork is for fun only. There is no suggestion that any part of the Big Bang ever looked like this.
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87 of 92 people found the following review helpful By Alice on 12 Nov. 2006
Format: Hardcover
I can't remember when I was last so sorry to finish reading a book!

Well, the aim of Brian May, Patrick Moore and Chris Lintott was to make the wonderful story of astronomy available to the general reader - and since maths and physics dimwit me feels she has understood it, I think we can say they've done that!

BANG! is an incredibly beautiful book, worth getting just for the photographs of stars, planets and galaxies. It also contains useful diagrams explaining such things as timescales and star formation. Pictures really can't capture the cover of the book, which is a "lenticular explosion" - 8 pictures, starting with a tiny star and ending with a terrifying fireball - depending on the angle at which you view it. I spent the first few hours just playing with that before I actually got around to reading anything.

The first chapter ("Genesis: In the Beginning") which deals with the first less-than-a-second interval, is the hardest work, especially if you'd never heard of positrons and have to be reminded how standard form works. But they're very sympathetic. Without once going into actual maths, they put explanation boxes separate from the text, and diagrams where appropriate. Once the application of these difficult concepts becomes so clear, you really want to know!

Later, the pace changes from Planck time (ten to the minus forty-three seconds, and yes, you will want to know) to billions of years, and everything feels all over too quickly. Early on the Universe becomes transparent - that is to say, electromagnetic radiation can actually get through it - then the first generation stars begin to form, burn themselves out and die differently according to their size, and along come black holes . . .
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Steve on 25 Sept. 2009
Format: Hardcover
Bang! The Complete History of the Universe takes the lay reader through pretty much everything they could want to know about basic cosmology and current theories of the universe, from less than a second after the Big Bang to billions of years into the future. Unlike a Brief History of Time, this one can be read and understood! Equally important, with a generous selection of pictures, it can be enjoyed.

Holding this book in your hand, it becomes immediately obvious that a lot of effort has gone into producing it, from the "lenticular explosion" on the front cover, to the first class illustrations heading each chapter. The photographs of planets, stars and galaxies are glorious, and there are even a few taken by the authors themselves.

Bang! is more informative than most coffee-table books on this subject, but it still manages to avoid getting too bogged down in the detail. It does a good job in covering a lot of ground and covering it well, but there have to be limits for any book of this kind, and while it touches on some of the underlying science such as wave-particle duality, it chooses not to expand on it.

All in all, I highly recommend this book to readers both with and without a scientific background. The lay reader will find it an accessible read and an awe-inspiring introduction to cosmology. The more advanced reader will appreciate the work for what it is, and marvel at the photography. For those looking for something more in-depth, I would recommend Simon Singh's Big Bang, which is another excellent but very different kind of book.
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