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Edge of the Universe: A Voyage to the Cosmic Horizon and Beyond Hardcover – 28 Sep 2012
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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
Top customer reviews
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.
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.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
I bought this book on Amazon.
It has been many years since I enjoyed a scientific book as much as this one. I have to start by heartily agreeing with a statement from Space Review: " "Halpern writes for the educated layperson, and excels at using analogies to describe abstract astronomical concepts in terms easier to understand..." This just touches on the skill and art that Mr. Halpern displays throughout this book. He takes you from early theories to the latest, identifying and crediting the researchers by name as the theories are presented. They fit in as if characters in a novel, playing their part. As theories are changed, no aspersions appear, just a healthy respect for the different people and what they could prove or what their revelations led to.
Halpern makes it seem like you could understand anything in astrophysics, etc., if only you had the time to read, or listen to him and/or his books. There is no condescension, but an acceptance of the reader as an equal who is just not knowledgeable in this particular area. Delightfully, the notes at the end of each chapter allows the reader could follow up more details if desired.
The analogy use is probably not unique to Halpern, but the success of the model guarantees the success of the book's goals.
The story of the Edge of the Universe is that the universe(s), large and small, beyond our everyday sight, is/are brought together as an epic fantasy, filled with dragons, phantom energy, dark energy, dark matter, and references to such as "the Goldilocks zone."
"The Goldilocks zone is the region near a star that is temperate enough (at least according to Earth standards) for there to be reasonable odds that a planet within it might be habitable."
At the end of the book I can say I really understand what these terms and many more mean. A pretty high achievement for a teacher who must communicate only through the written format. I may not be ready to pass a test on the book, but I am very pleased with it, and the fact that Halpern makes it possible for me to be proud of myself for being able to understand such material.
Halpern is a gifted writer who gifts the reader with an intelligent understanding of this material. I never thought I would be able to understand so much without a vast knowledge of mathematics. Thank you so much, Mr. Halpern, for this book.
I probably didn't say this as succinctly or in as polished a manner as I'd like. But I hope my enthusiasm and appreciation for it show through brightly.
P.S. This is science the way it should be. No creationist slamming or advocating. Just that much alone is commendable!
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