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Edge of the Universe: A Voyage to the Cosmic Horizon and Beyond [Hardcover]

Paul Halpern
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Book Description

28 Sep 2012
An accessible look at the mysteries that lurk at the edge of the known universe and beyond The observable universe, the part we can see with telescopes, is incredibly vast. Yet recent theories suggest that there is far more to the universe than what our instruments record—in fact, it could be infinite. Colossal flows of galaxies, large empty regions called voids, and other unexplained phenomena offer clues that our own "bubble universe" could be part of a greater realm called the multiverse. How big is the observable universe? What it is made of? What lies beyond it? Was there a time before the Big Bang? Could space have unseen dimensions? In this book, physicist and science writer Paul Halpern explains what we know—and what we hope to soon find out—about our extraordinary cosmos. Explains what we know about the Big Bang, the accelerating universe, dark energy, dark flow, and dark matter to examine some of the theories about the content of the universe and why its edge is getting farther away from us faster Explores the idea that the observable universe could be a hologram and that everything that happens within it might be written on its edge Written by physicist and popular science writer Paul Halpern, whose other books include Collider: The Search for the World′s Smallest Particles , and What′s Science Ever Done For Us: What the Simpsons Can Teach Us About Physics, Robots, Life, and the Universe

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: John Wiley & Sons; 1 edition (28 Sep 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470636246
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470636244
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 16.3 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 171,331 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

Acclaimed science writer and physicist Paul Halpern is the author of more than a dozen popular science books, exploring the subjects of space, time, higher dimensions, dark energy, dark matter, exoplanets, particle physics, and cosmology. He is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Fulbright Scholarship, and an Athenaeum Literary Award. He has appeared on numerous radio and television programmes including 'Future Quest' and 'The Simpsons 20th Anniversary Special'.

Recent books by Paul Halpern include 'Edge of the Universe: A Voyage to the Cosmic Horizon and Beyond,' a fascinating look at the latest mysteries in cosmology, and 'What's the Matter with Pluto? The Story of Pluto's Adventures with the Planet Club,' a fun, illustrated children's book about what it means to be a planet.

More information about Paul Halpern's books and other writings can be found at:
phalpern.com

Product Description

From the Inside Flap

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 .

From the Back Cover

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

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outreach at its Best 23 Dec 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
What can I say - this is scientific outreach at its best, in the best arena of science - physics.

Paul Halpern's book not only explores beyond the horizon of observation, but makes the subject of cosmology within everyone's reach. He does this in a fun, non-condescending way, which unlike many science writers makes the reader feel included in the journey the book takes.

On this Universal voyage, we encounter Dark matter and Dark energy; imagine what could be behind these significantly influential, yet largely unknown phenomena, before navigating our way through higher dimensions and across the Multiverse.

In addition to all the accurately, concise information, we find ourselves learning about the cosmos in a fun way, with everyday references and analogies. The book oozes the author's enthusiasm for the subject. I hope and expect this book will make a strong impact and whet the appetite for Cosmology to many more amateurs (like me) and pure novices alike, and judging from advance praise from the books previewers, Paul's professional peers also think the book is wonderful.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A cosmological page turner! 5 Oct 2012
By String
Format:Kindle Edition
I have profound gratitude for scientists, such as Paul Halpern, who convey complex interactions, theories and discoveries in a comprehensible and entertaining manner, especially for a lay person. Although `Edge of the Universe' is rich writing, teeming with technical information and discussion, Paul also utilises humorous metaphor, clever analogy and modern examples to impart the history, mechanics and progress of the science of cosmology and its dynamic relationship with the various branches of quantum physics. I learned about the frontiers of cosmological theory, but also of theorists and the machines (telescopes, satellites, observatories, spectrometers, and colliders) engaged in exploring this largely mysterious, exciting realm. Paul's passion for the subject is contagious and I read the book quickly due to his excellent ability to engage the reader in scientific adventure and discovery. The book is full of insights into the foremost theories on the structure of the universe and helpful to anyone desiring a thorough synopsis of the science of cosmology.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
Paul Halpern has a real gift for explaining the complexities of science in such a way that even seemingly incomprehensible theories are made clear. In `Edge of the Universe' he takes us on a fast-paced, heady cosmic adventure, teeming with twists, turns, solved and as yet unsolved mysteries. This reads like an edge-of-your-seat detective story, where the adventure spans the birth of our universe (and other universes), through the intriguing descriptions of its inhabitants throughout its evolution, to the possibilities that loom with its eventual demise.

Sparkling flashes of wit, humour and very clever analogies add extra zing to this fascinating book. Halpern had me laughing out loud at times, even as my mind was boggling over the sheer scale of the subject matter. Whether your particular interest is inflation, string theory, dark matter, dark flow, multiverses, the primal quantum sea, branes or black holes (take your pick - there's far more to choose from!), this eloquently written `epic voyage to the cosmic horizon and beyond' is an utterly gripping must-read.
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2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The book is up to date, this means nothing new. Precise for what we know already but for the rest very speculative. Did not add anything to what I read in other books.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  51 reviews
32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A cosmological page turner! 26 Sep 2012
By String - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I have profound gratitude for scientists, such as Paul Halpern, who convey complex interactions, theories and discoveries in a comprehensible and entertaining manner, especially for a lay person. Although `Edge of the Universe' is rich writing, teeming with technical information and discussion, Paul also utilises humorous metaphor, clever analogy and modern examples to impart the history, mechanics and progress of the science of cosmology and its dynamic relationship with the various branches of quantum physics. I learned about the frontiers of cosmological theory, but also of theorists and the machines (telescopes, satellites, observatories, spectrometers, and colliders) engaged in exploring this largely mysterious, exciting realm. Paul's passion for the subject is contagious and I read the book quickly due to his excellent ability to engage the reader in scientific adventure and discovery. The book is full of insights into the foremost theories on the structure of the universe and helpful to anyone desiring a thorough synopsis of the science of cosmology.
49 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Five stars and beyond 10 Sep 2012
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Dear book-fans: Edge of the Universe is a book for reading in the bus station or in the bedroom. There is no privileged site because wherever you choose reading these breaking news about the cosmos (paraphrasing a book by Hubert Reeves) the result will be astonishing. Paul Halpern tells us two important things --among others-- 1) the universe has secrets, 2) we can reveal them by exploring the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation.

Mr. Halpern tells us that the history of the universe is written in the edge. We can access that ultimate frontier by reading the light that reaches us from there. As the author says: "Some of that light has reached us today in the form of cosmic microwave background radiation ―a radio hiss that permeates space." And for deciphering that light code the scientific community now has the best technology available. That's why "It is the best of times," he says, "and the weirdest of times for cosmology."

Yes, these are the latest news about the universe. In fact some quotations have been taken so recently as April 2012. So if this is really happening today around us then that's another reason, I guess, for calling this book an Edge.

I have left for the end what is to me a very important thing about any book: the search for a beautiful expression. Paul Halpern not only has looked for telling us what scientists know this very same week about the universe but also in a beautiful style. His examples for explaining us what is dark matter, dark energy or black holes are better than good: are metaphorical achievements.

"Prepare yourself for an epic voyage to the cosmic horizon and beyond" he writes. And you are never going to feel disappointed. The last chapters, mainly number fifteen, are like those in a detectives novel. Despite the fact that here there is not murderer, you have at least the chances he had to pull the trigger in the Big Bang moment.

Believe me, this is a book whose price is lesser than the pleasure that gives you read it. That's what I expected after buying it, that's what I got.

By now, at least, you have my word.
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Halpern's virtual discovery account is curious and fascinating, more exciting than a science fiction book! 9 Oct 2012
By Didaskalex - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
*****
"The stream of human knowledge is impartially heading towards a non-mechanical reality. The universe begins to look more like a great thought than a great machine. Mind no longer appears to be an accidental intruder into the realm of matter. We are beginning to suspect that we ought rather to hail it as the creator and governor of this realm."--Sir James Jeans, The Mysterious Universe, 1930
*

In "L'atmosphere Meteorologie Populaire," Camille Flammarion has shown the astronomer as reaching for the truth," depicting him as breaking through the 'shell of appearances' to arrive at an understanding of the fundamental mechanism that lies behind Cosmic appearances. This could have been an impressive cover for Halpern's Voyage to the Cosmic Horizon and Beyond. In Edge of the Universe, Paul Halpern tours the most remote stretch of Cosmological frontier to explore its mysteries, which we are still trying to comprehend. He pushes even further, to reach over the edge of Sir James Jeans's fast expanding universe.

Cosmology is more exciting today than it has ever been since the geocentric cosmology, in the mathematical model of the universe, formulated by the Alexandrian astronomer and mathematician Ptolemy, in his Almagest and Planetary Hypotheses. The resulting Ptolemaic system, Ca. AD 150, persisted with minor adjustments, until the Earth was displaced from the center of the universe in the 16th century by the Copernican system and Kepler's laws of planetary motion. In this lively book, Halpern explains why and leaves us venturesome to explore what astonishments the universe could hide from us.

Halpern adopts an engaging strategy for his book, his cosmic voyage reaches the limits of our cosmic observation slot. From the dawn of time, we retrograde to visualize how the universe was born, and the extent of its edges are reaching farthest. So, in a systematic and orderly discussion, starting with the inflation era to explore the boundaries of our information, points at a major target for his book themes. While trying to keep his reader in the demanding dialogue, he explains 'dark energy' and sheds some light on black holes. The alternatives of inflation follows, with a hint on what builds the universe's structure.

Eventually Halpern explores the discovery of cosmic acceleration before he concludes with the ultimate limits of our cosmic knowledge, but on the way he introduces the reader to the main contemporary players on the cosmological stage. Meeting with cosmic celebrities Roger Penrose to Hawking, and hearing from Krauss and Smolin before the author starts to decide the fate of the universe, which if cognizant (he suggests) might have purchased a book about the "Names of Cosmic Newborns"! Halpern's virtual discovery voyage is fascinating and more exciting than most science fiction books could be.

"We expanded our understanding of the cosmos from a single planet with an intriguing, sparkling sky overhead, to a system of planets circling the sun, then to a galaxy of stars. Now we know that our galaxy, ..., is one part of a universe that includes immense super structures containing thousands of galaxies..., millions of light-years across."-- Gerald Cleaver
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A breathtaking journey through the mysteries of the cosmos 15 Nov 2012
By L. J. Tenzin-dolma - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Paul Halpern has a real gift for explaining the complexities of science in such a way that even seemingly incomprehensible theories are made clear. In `Edge of the Universe' he takes us on a fast-paced, heady cosmic adventure, teeming with twists, turns, solved and as yet unsolved mysteries. This reads like an edge-of-your-seat detective story, where the adventure spans the birth of our universe (and other universes), through the intriguing descriptions of its inhabitants throughout its evolution, to the possibilities that loom with its eventual demise.

Sparkling flashes of wit, humor and very clever analogies add extra zing to this fascinating book. Halpern had me laughing out loud at times, even as my mind was boggling over the sheer scale of the subject matter. Whether your particular interest is inflation, string theory, dark matter, dark flow, multiverses, the primal quantum sea, branes or black holes (take your pick - there's far more to choose from!), this eloquently written `epic voyage to the cosmic horizon and beyond' is an utterly gripping must-read.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Reminds one of Columbus sailing to the edge of the known world 3 Nov 2012
By C. Armstrong - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Halpern's book treats the reader to a banquet of the latest theories about the 'edge' of the universe. Since we do not have personal reports back from the 'edge', one is reminded of Columbus presenting his speculations before Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand. What would he find when he reached the edge of the known world? If you are the adventurous type and have thirst for the latest scientific knowledge incoming from 'out there', you will love The Edge of the Universe.
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