How big is the observable universe?
What is it made of?
What lies beyond it?
Was there a time before the Big Bang?
Could space have unseen dimensions?
In Edge of the Universe, award–winning physicist and celebrated author Paul Halpern explores what science has discovered about the far reaches of space and examines the questions they raise about the origin, the development, and the very makeup of the universe.
Halpern reveals how twenty–first century technologies have helped scientists solve mysteries that have puzzled philosophers and other thinkers for millennia. He explains how astronomers have been able to pin down the age of the universe, amass a trove of data that describes the primordial era of the cosmos, and offer strong evidence of how the universe has developed since the Big Bang. He reports on a remarkable quest to gauge the shape, size, and fate of the universe using powerful telescopes, delicate microwave receivers, sophisticated computer algorithms, and a host of other tools for capturing light waves from across the spectrum.
Despite the high precision of these light–gathering instruments, it is perplexing that galaxies are guided by substances and forces we cannot see: dark matter and dark energy. Dark matter, Halpern explains, accounts for approximately 23 percent of all the material in the universe; yet despite multiple experiments, its identity remains unknown. Dark energy, the force that causes the accelerating expansion, accounts for more than 72 percent of everything in the universe. Yet another find, an enormous movement of galaxy clusters called dark flow, hints of unseen influences from beyond the observable universe.
The concept of multiple or parallel universes may sound like pure science fiction, but it has emerged as a potentially plausible explanation for dark matter, dark energy, and dark flow. Halpern explores several multiverse models as well as the even more mind–bending notion that our observable universe is a hologram and that everything that happens in it might be written on its edge.
Prepare to discover cosmic dragons lurking in gamma–ray fog, bottomless pits, and looking–glass worlds. Keep an eye out for portals into hidden realms, and don′t be surprised if you should happen upon an immense axis of evil piercing the cosmic background. These and many other wonders await you in Edge of the Universe.
Advance Praise for Edge of the Universe
"Edge of the Universe is a breezy romp through the universe as we know it. Paul Halpern covers all of the big topics in cosmology with a crisp and engaging tone, at a level that even a novice can follow, and pairs it with pop cultural references and very engaging scientific history. He gives a grand view of not only what we know, but also what we don′t entirely understand, from inflation and the edge of the universe to the ′Axis of Evil′ in the cosmic microwave background and the dark flow of galaxies."
Dave Goldberg, io9.com contributor and coauthor of A User′s Guide to the Universe
"Cosmology today is more exciting than it has ever been in its 2,500–year history. In this lively book, Halpern explains why and leaves us desperate to see what surprises the universe has in store."
Graham Farmelo, author of The Strangest Man: The Hidden Life of Paul Dirac, Mystic of the Atom
"A delightful introduction to all the major topics in modern cosmology. In user–friendly language, Halpern manages to describe the ins and outs of this complex subject, from the well–established to the highly speculative. This is truly a remarkable accomplishment."
Gino Segré, author of Faust in Copenhagen: A Struggle for the Soul of Physics
"A fantastic romp along the frontiers of modern cosmology and beyond. Halpern makes us wonder about our place in the vast universe, both in space and time, and marvel at the mystery of dark matter, dark energy, extra dimensions, parallel universes, and so much more."
Dr. Clifford Pickover, author of The Physics Book: From the Big Bang to Quantum Resurrection, 250 Milestones in the History of Physics
"In this lively, fast–paced, and authoritative book, Paul Halpern takes us not only to the edge of the universe but to the edge of our knowledge of the universe."
Marcus Chown, author of Solar System: A Visual Exploration of the Planets, Moons, and Other Heavenly Bodies that Orbit Our Sun