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The First Three Minutes: Modern View of the Origin of the Universe (Flamingo) Paperback – 11 Oct 1993

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Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Flamingo; New edition edition (11 Oct. 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0006540244
  • ISBN-13: 978-0006540243
  • Product Dimensions: 19.2 x 12.8 x 1.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 938,166 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Steven Weinberg won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1979. He is the Josey Regental Professor of Science at the University of Texas in Austin and the author of many books, most recently Dreams of a Final Theory. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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First Sentence
THE ORIGIN of the universe is explained in the Younger Edda, a collection of Norse myths compiled around 1220 by the Icelandic magnate Snorri Sturleson. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 30 July 2004
Format: Paperback
In 'The First Three Minutes' Steven Weinberg takes the reader through a (quite) modern view of one of the most enigmatic subjects in physics - the origin of the universe. First of all he takes you on a tour of some of the key events in (quite) modern cosmology that led to the picture of the young universe we have now. The discovery of cosmic red shift was an amazing revelation and showed that all the galaxies seemed to be speeding away from each other. Then the accidental detection by Penzias and Wilson of a low level radiation that seemed to come from everywhere in the universe put the 'Big Bang' model firmly ahead of rivals like the 'Steady State' model. They had tuned into the radiation from the adolescent universe.
Then the first three minutes themselves are played like a film which is repeatedly paused to allow the reader to see what's going on. What's going on is subatomic particles and high energy photons colliding billions of times a second in a thick bath of heat. After everything has cooled to just three hundred million degrees Kelvin the author looks at the scientific discoveries in this story from a historical perspective and asks some questions he sees as very important like 'why wasn't anyone looking for the cosmic microwave background?' Then finally he looks the other way into the future and to what it might reveal about the beginning of time. His 'film' of the Big Bang starts at one hundredth of a second after its start and in this last chapter he asks what could have happened before this time and how we could discover it.
He says in the epilogue that he "didn't intend to write and easy book" and this is true - the evidence and the theories are quite detailed - but he is a very good writer and really knows what he's talking about so I didn't get very lost.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Dr. C. Jeynes on 2 Jan. 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It is an extraordinary fact that we, a small scrap of biological matter inhabiting a negligible space in an obscure corner of the Universe and having come into existence a mere eyeblink ago, we can comprehend the whole Universe right from its very beginning!

Steven Weinberg (1979 Physics Nobel prizewinner) has written a gem of a little book first published in 1977, a classic that deserves to be on every shelf and that everyone should read. He explains, using only school arithmetic, precisely what happened at the Big Bang, and precisely how we know it.

In a mere 50,000 words or so, a little book, Weinberg shows how the longstanding belief in an eternal Universe was overturned. This old belief underpins Newtonian (and Aristotelian) physics, and was universally believed until about 1950. But the discovery by Penzias & Wilson of the Cosmic Microwave Background in 1965 dramatically overturned this consensus and replaced it with a Universe finite in both time and space.

Of course, Penzias & Wilson's observation of the CMB was only the final piece in the puzzle of the new cosmology. The expansion of the Universe first proposed by Hubble with his explanation of stellar redshift in 1929 (together with Penrose & Hawking's gravitational singularity theorem in 1970), the understanding of stellar nucleosynthesis summarised by Hoyle, Fowler and the Burbridges in 1957, the observation of the H/He ratio in the Universe by Suess & Urey in 1956, and the theoretical prediction of this first suggested by the famous Alpher Bethe Gamow paper of 1948 which also made very clear that the early Universe had to be hot, all made an environment in which the importance of the 1965 CMB observation could be immediately recognised.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Rama Rao on 17 Sept. 2008
Format: Paperback
This book in cosmology requires some knowledge in undergraduate level physics, where the author chronicles the very early history of the universe while describing the underlying physical concepts. In the light of epoch experiments to be conducted with new Large Hadron Collider (LHC), during October 2008 at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, located in Geneva, Switzerland, this book lays a foundation for some of these experiments. The LHC will create the conditions of less than a millionth of a second after Big Bang when there was a hot soup of tiny particles called quarks and gluons. The particle collider LHC will expect to generate a numerous particles after two beams of protons collide after travelling for 17 miles at the speed of light. The data will provide evidence for the existence of additional dimensions and also Higgs Boson, the particle that explains why matter has mass.

The most interesting chapters in the book are the First Three Minutes (Chapter 5) and First One-Hundred Seconds (Chapter 7). Standard model of cosmology proposes that the universe is made of four natural physical forces; weak nuclear force, strong nuclear force, electromagnetic force and gravitational force. When the universe was 10(e-43) seconds old (the first moment of the universe), it was at a temperature of 10(e32)K, and all the four forces were proposed to be in a unified manner. The author is one of the pioneers in this field of research and he theoretically demonstrated the existence of unified of weak and electromagnetic forces for which he was awarded Nobel Prize. At above critical temperature of 3X10(e15)K, these two forces were symmetrical and had the same strength, and the symmetry broke as the cooling of the universe decreased the heat below the critical temperature.
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