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The Accelerating Universe: Infinite Expansion, the Cosmological Constant, and the Beauty of the Cosmos (Physics) Paperback – 25 Dec 2000

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Product details

  • Paperback: 292 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; New Ed edition (25 Dec. 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0471399760
  • ISBN-13: 978-0471399766
  • Product Dimensions: 15.5 x 1.3 x 23.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 580,857 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

Review

"...Elegantly written and timely book. Offering extraordinarily clear explanations of all key concepts and theoretical ideas, Livio is a marvelous guide through this most exciting frontier in science today." (Science Book Board, October 2000)

"...Elegantly written and timely book. Offering extraordinarily clear explanations of all key concepts and theoretical ideas..." (Science Book Board, October 2000) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Inside Flap

"If nature were not beautiful, it would not be worth knowing and life would not be worth living." –Jules Henri Poincaré In one of the most surprising and important findings in cosmology in the century, astronomers recently discovered that the universe may be expanding at an ever–increasing rate. This discovery of an "accelerating universe" stunned many cosmologists because it directly contradicts their most deeply held beliefs about the evolution and fate of the universe. The discovery has therefore ignited a new revolution in cosmology in which scientists are wrestling anew with the most fundamental questions and revisiting ideas that were dismissed long ago. As leading astrophysicist Mario Livio explains in this elegantly written and timely book, most cosmologists have long believed that the universe will expand at a gradually decreasing rate until the expansion effectively stops. In this pleasing scenario, the universe is perfectly poised between expanding into oblivion or collapsing in a "big crash" and will continue on in this miraculously balanced state for eternity. The discovery that the expansion appears in fact to be speeding up–and therefore that the universe will keep expanding faster and faster for infinity–throws the view of a perfectly balanced "beautiful universe" into question. Even more troubling, it threatens the cherished belief that the fundamental laws governing the cosmos are in themselves exquisitely "beautiful," a belief that has always been a guiding light of discovery in cosmology. What can explain this accelerated expansion? Does the universe have much less mass than originally thought? Is there some exotic unknown force, or new kind of energy, causing acceleration? Was Einstein′s "greatest blunder"–his idea of a cosmological constant–the right idea after all? What will the ultimate fate of the universe be? Must there be beauty in all good theories of the cosmos? Or are some of the laws governing the universe "ugly"? In an entertaining and lively exploration of the answers to all of these questions, Mario Livio introduces readers to the "old cosmology," which culminated in the view of the perfectly balanced universe, and then presents all of the ideas being explored by cosmologists in the "new cosmology" as they come to terms with the discovery of acceleration. Offering extraordinarily clear explanations of all the key concepts and theoretical ideas, Livio is a marvelous guide through this most exciting frontier in science today. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Format: Hardcover
This book deserves far more than 5 stars.
Astrophysics is a subject that I stay current with about every three years or so. What a pleasant surprise it was to learn form this book that remarkable advances have occurred since my last visit to the starry science. Unless you read in this area regularly, you will find this update informative and fascinating.
This book will also change your thinking in fundamental ways about what qualities scientific theories and knowledge should contain, as well as your ideas about the nature of reality and the future of the universe. That's a lot of benefit from one book.
Two concepts are developed side by side in this book in an intertwined way, not unlike the two strands of DNA. The first concept is what we should look for in a rewarding scientific view of the world. The author argues for a concept of beauty in scientific theories and knowledge. This is not an aesthetic argument, but rather a practical one. When this concept has been pursued, it has advanced knowledge faster than when it was not. Although the point is not fully developed in the book, we should come to expect a symmetry and balance in reality. Whenever those qualities are lacking, we should expect to find them, and should keep looking until we do. The point the author is making is much more complex and powerful than this about scientific knolwedge, but my statement here will be enough to help you begin to understand the book's purpose. I encourage you to read and learn about it for yourself, directly from the author.
The second aspect of the book is looking at current theories about the evolution of the universe since the big bang to consider what has happened and will occur.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is an in depth introduction to up-to-date thinking in physics and cosmology. At the beginning, the author explains the term "beauty" as it applies to physics. Then, as the book proceeds to tell the story of physics and cosmology, he shows how the quest for "beautiful" theories has always guided the search for theories about reality. But, now, some new observations have placed in doubt parts of the concept of "beauty."
This book excited me more than any has since Stephen Hawking's A Brief History of Time. Dr. Livio succeeds in explaining complicated scientific theories in a way that make sense to the simple layman (I am not a scientist, and have had practically no exposure to physics since my college days). Also, the book is written in a way that leaves you fascinated with the subject, and the evolution of thought in it.
I highly recommend this book.
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