Before The Beginning: Our Universe and Others (Helix Books) Paperback – 2 Sep 1998
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'The real stuff of astronomy -- written by the best authority' --Stephen Hawking 'Mind-stretching... Equipped with little more than an inquiring mind, the reader can accompany this expert guide across the length and breadth of our universe, backwards and forwards in time, to find out just what cosmologists nowadays do and don't know' SUNDAY TIMES 'Masterly... I cannot think of a more civilised and stimulating way to escape from the mundane concerns of everyday life than to read BEFORE THE BEGINNING' FINANCIAL TIMES 'Fascinating... A highly accessible book... Sir Martin Rees does much to persuade us that the cosmos might well be even more spectacular than we could have imagined' SUNDAY TELEGRAPH 'If you haven't read a single cosmology book, this is a good place to start' NEW SCIENTIST 'This is the book for those who read A BRIEF HISTORY OF TIME and were still left wondering whether they quite had the whole picture' GUARDIAN --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
Matrin Rees is a leading researcher on cosmic evolution, black holes, and galaxies. He has himself originated many key ideas, and brings a unique perspective to themes discussed in this book. He is currently a Royal Society Research Professor, and Great Britain's Astronomer Royal. Through based in Cambridge University for most of his career, he travels extensively, and collaborates wit many colleagues in the U.S. and elsewhere. He is an enthusiast for international collaboration in research, and is a member of several foreign academies.
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Top Customer Reviews
Of course, these matters are not the subject of simple experiments but it is remarkable that our understanding of nature allows such speculation.
This book is aimed at a non-technical audience and the overall style is clear and the arguments lucid.
The author starts with an introduction that explains our universe as it has been understood through the main developments of physics in the last one hundred years. The sections on gravitation effects, ranging from stellar collapse to massive black holes missing mass and expansion were presented with great clarity.
However, if you are looking for a book that talks about "Before the Beginning", you may just find yourself wondering why you read the first nine chapters. They are a good, non-technical introduction but they are about our universe from the big bang to the present time.
The last 40% of the book actually contains material hinted at in the title. The author makes the point that our universe is remarkable in the way that it is fit for human life. He then links this observation to the current thinking about the origins of the universe.
Perhaps, our universe is one of many. Very, very many and this one just happens to suit the development of life but there may be many universes "out there" that are still born in the sense that they cannot support life.
Reese explains how space time inflation may lead to universes with different laws of physics and how universes may spawn new universes through the formation of black holes.Read more ›
The author is concerned with the problem of the origin of the cosmos, and he asks the question 'what existed prior to the universe?'
Unfortunately, he only goes so far as to say that the question is interesting ... other than that, he limits what he says as he claims that anything that may have existed prior to the Big Bang is beyond the horizon of our universe, and therefore unknowable.
If that's his working premise, the problem of 'before' becomes redundant. If redundant, what's the point in writing a book about 'before the beginning'???
The book is full of conjecture ... it's metaphysics masquerading as science. For instance, the author is interested in the 'multi-verse' ... possible other universes. He admits that such other universes are unknowable, and cannot be proven, but he asserts that they are a scientific problem.
I find myself being sceptical. But science is about scepticism, so that's okay.
However, I would have liked to see some actual discussion on what "might" have existed before the beginning. As it is, the title of this book is highly inaccurate!
Fascinating read. I must admit to cosmology / Astronomy being an interest of mine, to give a little balance to this review, but this book is aimed at the casual reader not the expert and gives anyone an insight into the developments in the field, from the point of view of one school of thought in this arena. If nothing else you will at least be able to follow Brian Cox on TV.
this book tells the history of the cosmos, as far as science can hypothesise, from the moments even before its existence, through the "big bang" event, hyperinflation and continues to explain where we are presently, approximately 14 billion years later. along the way we are treated to the theories of how the various elements may have formed (nucleogenesis, as rees calls it), how life might have arisen, how lifeforms from other parts of the universe might attempt to communicate with us (i smugly presume the prime sequence on page 24 is a typo since it goes 1, 3, 5, 7, 11 ...), and how the numbers highly speculative and intriguing numbers omega and lambda might influence how the universe might continue or end. we can be sure that it will peter out to nothingness, dissolving into an ever-diluting wash of radiation; stay constant, i.e. continually expanding, or bounce back into a so-called "big crunch", possibly resulting in a new creation event, another "big bang"). i can't wait to find out.
i loved this book and have read it three times and will definitely read it again. a five-star book!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The astronomer Royal is always fascinating,, informative, inspiring and above all uderstandable even with a subject as difficult for the average reader as the present. Read morePublished on 1 July 2013 by Jørgen G. Jacobsen