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Cosmic Coincidences [Paperback]

John R. Gribbin , Martin J. Rees

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Book Description

21 Mar 1991
What happened "in the beginning", 15 billion years ago? Is the universe only one of its kind or are there others? Is it just a coincidence that life evolved on Earth? This book explores the chain of cosmic events that led to intelligent life on Earth. Scientists cannot explain the distribution of galaxies, and the voids between them, without concluding that at least 90% of the universe consists of so-called "dark matter". The authors here aim to provide a readable account of the leading theories and latest advances in understanding the nature of dark matter, the controlling force in the dynamics structure and the eventual fate of the universe. John Gribbin's previous books include "The Hole in the Sky" and "Hothouse Earth".

Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Black Swan; New edition edition (21 Mar 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 055299443X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0552994439
  • Product Dimensions: 20.8 x 13.2 x 2.5 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,301,506 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 5.0 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply Excellent 20 Jun 2000
By Angshuman Bezbaruah - Published on
This is possibly the best book I have read about Cosmology. This is my fourth Gribbin book, the other three being of his "Insearch of ..." series. And I definitely found this to be his best. First of all the book deals with an area which is somewhat different from most other books on Cosmology. The author's argument about why dark matter is necessary to make the universe closed, and how it relates to the requirements of existence certain particles to complete the particle physics equations is superb. The book gives a plethora of information about what could possibly constitute the dark matter of the universe. It talks about particles with bizarre characteristics like quark nuggets, axions etc. The book also includes a lot of speculations like existence of "shadow matter" which appears too bizarre to be real. And last but not the least, the book tackles the sensitive issue of "Anthropic Cosmology" which stresses on the fact that the universe is taylor-made for man. This is really intriguing.
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Anthropic Cosmology of Intelligent Design 26 Aug 2005
By John Philoponus - Published on
"Our location in the universe is necessarily privileged to the extent of being compatible with our existence as observers." Brandon Carter

Einstein on Cosmic Coincidences:

Albert Einstein vehemently disagreed with the idea of a "meaningless" unguided universe for his entire life, maintaining that there is an underlying structure that produces a guiding method to nature's madness, but he realized that this was just physics.

From the observation of cosmic coincidences, two main hypotheses have been suggested: a. An Ultimate Designer/Creator, b. An extraordinary coincidence. The implications of the cosmic coincidences are distinctly pointed in our favor, if the forces are strictly constrained to the observed universe as the only possible outcome of the big bang. The fact that there exists a third near-infinity alternative (c), of other 'Universes', in an overall 'Multiverse.' This alternative (c), preferred by author Rees in his book, "Just Six Numbers," leads to a modern ontological form, while (a) provides an argument from design.

Anthropic Principles:

Cosmologists use what they call the Copernican principle, that the universe looks exactly the same, whatever your position. We on earth do not have a privileged position. While Copernicus rejected the idea that the earth was the center of the universe, he accepted the idea that the sun was. The anthropic principle is supposed to limit the Copernican principle, which can be used to `explain,' or at least reduce or surprise at some of the more astonishing features of the cosmos. It does this by taking as basic that we are intelligent carbon based life forms, and then asking what is necessary in cosmological terms for the existence of such life forms. If the process of star formation, heavy element formation, supernova, solar system formation and evolution took 12 billion years, it is no surprise that the universe is as old as it is or as big as it is.([...])

An Anthropic Cosmology:

Astrophysicist Gribbin, "In Search of Schrodinger's Cat," and author of popular science books, now collaborates with Martin Rees, Hawkin's astronomy colleague at Cambridge university, for an examination of science's discoveries and views about the universe. After an informative introduction, the authors take you, in three integrated parts from 'Cosmic coincidences' opening, to 'The Bespoke Universe' conclusion, after a thorough examination of the stuff of the Universe. Starting with their "particle zoo," or subatomic activity, to quark nuggets, black holes, quasars, Cosmic string, arriving at 'A theory of Everything?' Their central topic, in this intriguing exploration of a grand design for the universe, is the perplexing question of dark matter. Throughout, their provocative search of the cosmic blueprint, they keep looking for evidence for the source of life in the universe.

A Keystone Proposition:

As articulate lecturers, of great universities tradition, aided with clarifying figures for the first two essays, in charts, flow diagrams and Escher graphics, from "onion skin" to a "quasar spectrum," they render an exhilarating tour of cosmic integration, shedding light on the grand questions of human existence. Their keystone proposition, leads to the more likely conclusion, that our carbon-based life was not arrived at coincidentally, but that the universe was "tailor made for man." Yet, the persuasive writers, and outstanding scientists own personal view of cosmic events, clearly supported argument render their compelling address an outstanding guideline for 'intelligent design' skeptics and advocates, alike.

Book Reviewed:

"This is possibly the best book I have read about cosmology.-..the sensitive issue of "Anthropic Cosmology" which stresses on the fact that the universe is Taylor-made for man. This is really intriguing." (Reviewer: Angshuman Bezbaruah)
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Seminal! Changed my life! 14 Nov 2005
By Mehetabelle - Published on
This is an old book, first published in 1989. A lot has since been learned, e.g., dark matter, the 'openess' of the universe... but when I read it in 1989, it introduced me to GOOD popular writing about science. This book is a survey of many topics related to cosmology and gives topical overviews of the basic ideas, theories, and principles.

Since learning about this genre of book, I've found so many excellent books by other real scientists explaining their own work to a lay readership. In the cosmology 'vertical,'

- Nobel laureate Steven Weinberg's "First 3 Minutes" (ISBN 0465024378) was wonderful, as was

- Alan Guth's book on Inflation (ISBN 0201328402) and on large structures.

- Barrow's books are not as readable but are informative.

- Joseph Silk's work empahsizes astrophysics. I am anxiously awating his 2006 book "...Questions fromt the Frontiers of Cosmology" (ISBN 0198505108) to get cheaper so I can buy it instead of only borrow it.

- Roger Penrose and Paul Davies have written many excellent popular books about cosmology.

- Of course, there is the rock-star-like Stephen Hawking and his 'Brief History of Time.' His debate with Penrose about space time is only 142 pages, but really fascinating (ISBN 0691050848).

- What discussion of popular writing about cosmology can leave out Scientific American's books (not the magazine)? Despite the magazine's unfortunate Leftist partisanship, Scientific American's collection of essays about cosmology (ISBN 0446678732)is among the best.
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