The 4 Percent Universe: Dark Matter, Dark Energy, and the Race to Discover the Rest of Reality Audio CD – Audiobook, 10 Jan 2011
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'Richard Panek has written a contemporary adventure story of modern-day explorers who venture forth into the universe not by ships, but by telescopes and satellites. Like adventure stories of old, there are visionaries, heroes, patrons, and, perhaps, a few pirates. A riveting book.' --Lee Smolin, author of The Trouble with Physics
'Modern cosmology tackles some of the biggest questions we have about the nature of the cosmos. In The 4-Percent Universe, Richard Panek brings this quest down to a human scale. The rivalries, the surprises, and the excitement are brought vividly to life. People are a very tiny percentage of the universe, but we remain the most interesting part.' --Sean Carroll, author of From Eternity to Here
'Richard Panek turns astronomers and physicists into real (and sometimes likeable) characters. You can feel the tension as two rival groups race to discover the fate of the universe. We see scientists as real people, warts and all. Panek turns potentially baffling science into a tense story of rivalry and discovery.' --Brian Clegg, author of Before the Big Bang and Armageddon Science --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
“The 4-Percent Universe is a lively and well-researched account of the personalities and ambitions of modern scientists.”(Alan Lightman - author of Einstein’s Dreams) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title. See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
But this book is written in the style of a fiction novel, with a scene being set and a drama enacted. I guess the very first paragraph of the book shows what I mean:
"in the beginning - which is to say, 1965 - the universe was simple. It came into being one noontime early that year over the course of a telephone conversation. Jim Peebles was sitting in the office of his mentor and frequent collaborator, the Princeton physicist Robert Dicke, along with two other colleagues. The phone rang; Dicke took the call. Dicke helped run a research firm on the side, and he himself held dozens of patents. During these weekly lunches in his office, he sometime got phone calls that were full of esoteric and technical vocaulary that Peebles knew intimately - concepts the four physicists had been discussing that very afternoon. Cold load, for instance: a device that would help calibrate the horn antenna - another term Peebles overheard - that they would be using to try to detect a special signal from space. The three physicists grew quiet and looked at Dicke. Dicke thanked the caller and hung up, then turned to his colleages and said, "Well boys, we've been scooped."
Don't expect the style to settle down - it doesn't. It's something like a radio panel show game, with contestants given a task "Explain a scientific story in the style of an Inspector Rebus novel". It's just inappropriate, frustrating; and very soon the recession velocity of useful information exceeds the cosmic attention span, and one just gives up.Read more ›
This book covers the science quite well, and in a fair bit of detail (though sometimes the descriptions seem a bit bland even if they are lengthy). But it is overwhelmingly about the history of the discoveries and the relationships between the different, sometimes competing, individual researchers, and teams. So the book could be said to be about 25-30% science, and the rest narrative. It is quite a long read too, so eventually I found myself sneaking a look at where the notes, references, index, etc started, to see how near the finishing line I was getting! That meant that my rating is down a bit, but I am sure others will enjoy it more, as it undoubtedly a good book.
An example is the historic phone call between two sets of researchers who were investigating background radiation from the sky that came to be known as the Cosmic Microwave Backgound. Not only is there the obligatory mention of the content of the call itself, but in later threads there are further references to it such as 'this was the same room that ...', and 'this was the day that...'. All this perhaps is a reflection of the description of his work as "writing on science and culture" in various publications and books, trying to set the whole research programme in context.
As with other books I have read, the narrative repeatedly reverts in time to trace through each thread of the investigations and discoveries from initial ideas to the latest situation.Read more ›
I should perhaps mention another disappointment in this account which is the relegation of the WMAP probe to a passing mention - I think a full account of this would have made a good chapter in its own right.
The aim of "The 4% Universe" is to explain our best current understanding of what the dark matter and the dark energy are. The book provides some good physics background to all of these phenomena, and tries to explain how the observation and the research into these topics have progressed over the last half a century or so. Unfortunately, this book goes way overboard in taking the inside look at the workings of the physicists and the astronomers who do research on dark matter and dark energy. It narrates, in painful details sometimes, the comings and goings of the select groups of scientists as they conduct their research, grapple with work-family balance, and engage in petty turf wars with their colleagues and other competing research collaborations.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book is very poor. Its merely descriptive and not very analytical or explanatory. It seems to be all about the personalities involved and there are lots of them. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Raymond Carroll
What do todays' cosmologists know about our Universe? Not much. An encouragement for young scientists to proceed, there is still so much to learn about our world.Published 17 months ago by Raymond
The actual content of the book I would rate around 3 stars: this book is OK, but there is neither any particularly detailed science nor any particularly interesting narrative: a... Read morePublished 18 months ago by DAN
Quite a complicated story. I had to go back over it from time to time in order to catch up but I learned a great deal about cosmology. Read morePublished 19 months ago by MrsD A Parish
I would have preferred to see a little more setting out of the science in between the no doubt interesting stuff about the personalities involved. Read morePublished on 19 Oct. 2013 by Stuart
Anyone interested in the universe will find this book interesting and informative. We may be hearing much more on this topic in future years.Published on 29 April 2013 by C F Monahan
If you are expecting a hard nosed science book such as: 'Why Does E= mc2?' 'A brief history of Time' or 'The Quantum Universe' then you will be disappointed. Read morePublished on 19 Mar. 2013 by Tim Dumble
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