The Universe: A Biography Paperback – 31 Jan 2008
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About the Author
John Gribbin is the author of bestselling books including In Search of Schrödinger's Cat, Stardust, Science: A History and Deep Simplicity. He is famous to his many fans for making complex ideas simple, and says that his aim in his writing is to share his sense of wonder at the strangeness of the universe. He trained as an astrophysicist at Cambridge University and is currently Visiting Fellow in Astronomy at the University of Sussex.
Top Customer Reviews
This is indeed the best plain-language guide to what scientists know about the Universe and everything in it that I have ever seen, and fully lives up to its billing. If you only buy one book by John Gribbin (and everyone should have at least one) then this is it.
For me, the literary approach could not have been better. The subject matter in itself is so far reaching and mind blowing that I don't need it to be dressed up with unnecessarily flowery language. I don't want to be told to think 'Wow!'; I want to read the facts and feel the 'Wow!' for myself. And, did I ever feel it having read this.
Often, the only cutting edge astronomy which filters down to the lay person is in the form of shock news headlines like 'Scientists say life came from Comets!', and you are left with little appreciation of how or why anyone came to such conclusions; or indeed if it is even a prevailing opinion in the scientific community at large or rather a piece of crank research pounced upon by a desperate hack.
This book addresses many such remarkable conclusions and explains, in terms most of us can appreciate, where such ideas come from. The clear explanation early in the book of what a good scientist means by a 'model' is crucial to this understanding. It is because astonishing predictions made by such models have come to be observably true again and again that we can have some faith in further predictions that have yet to be conclusively observed.
To return briefly to the writing style: I found it to be clear and straightforward and the book was a real page-turner because of, rather than in spite of this. As with any good guide, there was nothing to get in the way of understanding and appreciating the subject, which is quite amazing enough in itself. But if I did detect any hint of John Gribbin coming through, it was his pleasure in being able to share his own sense of wonderment on themes he obviously loves and understands so well.
I would say that it covers or tries to cover too many aspects at the same time. May be that is required to go to the depths that Gribbin has gone into. One weak area that I did find - is the discussion on String theories and M-theories. Then again, it is difficult to get into the detailed understanding of these, without the mathematics and physics of it all. Overall, and excellent book to gain more insight.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Certainly a book that one cannot put down,and in fact will re-read a few times - good value. Superb read and trustworthy of facts. Read morePublished on 14 Jan. 2014 by Mike Brooks
What a truly brilliant book, beautifully written and fascinating (OK to those "one star" reviews, it isn't written in iambic pentameter and for me its all the better for... Read morePublished on 3 Oct. 2011 by Julian
The best thing about this book is that Gribbin takes pain to explain that when scientists (sometimes) say they "know" they mean that this is what they believe to be given very... Read morePublished on 9 Aug. 2009 by demola
Some tables, diagrams and the odd formula would have improved this book immeasurably. Even Newton's law of gravity was written as continuous prose.Published on 13 April 2009 by Mrs. P. J. Nicholas
Gribbin updates his previous similar books ( In the Begining & The Case of the missing neutrinos ) with quite a diverse book. Read morePublished on 5 May 2008 by J. Taylor
John Gribbin's deserved reputation is well endorsed by this book. His ability to make the arcane or obscure clear and understandable is brought to bear on some of the most... Read morePublished on 2 Mar. 2008 by Stephen A. Haines
I didn't get on with this book because it is written in what can be described as blank verse - that is no style or literary panache. Read morePublished on 2 April 2007 by Keithp
I have never read a book before which explains so clearly how all the different parts of science hang together. Read morePublished on 3 Mar. 2007 by Helen of Troy