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on 15 December 2004
The text gives a good technical overview of the main aspects of the hot big band model. It goes significantly beyond what's covered in the numerous popular science books in the same domain. Overall you get to realize the logic/rationale behind the theory of the big bang. Liddle's main good idea is to give a starting technical outlook to the description of the Universe as a whole. Liddle describes the core ideas and then requires his/her reader to carry out some relatively simple mathematical demonstrations (requiring calculus). Thanks to this approach, you get a good qualitative and some quantitative feel about the main aspects of cosmology.
I only give 4 stars because the book has (for clarity's sake) avoided explaining some important key physical points. Instead there are briefly introduced at the start of the book and they are used later when developing cosmological ideas. This is obviously a conscious choice from Liddle.
The author however mentions that there is a significant gap between his book and other more serious undergrad/postgrad textbooks. In my view, it would be nice if a later edition could attempt to bridge this gap by adding some more experimental evidence and fundamental physics.
All in all a good addition to my personal library.
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on 30 May 2002
I just read this book cover to cover about three times for my Physics course, and its a great little book.
Its one of the few text books i would recommend to a non Physicist (Though you do need a decent level of mathematical knowledge.)
It covers all of cosmology and the bigbang theory without resorting to Relativity and as such allows you to get to grasps with the concepts behind the universe with ease.
It allows the reader to understand the nature of the universe quite deeply for it size, and keeps you entertained throughout.
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on 8 July 2016
This book is a real surprise. Never would I have expected that such a difficult subject like cosmology could, even in introductory level, be presented within so small a book and with such simplicity and rigor.

Usually cosmology books necessitates that the reader is familiar with Einstein’s field equations from General Relativity. Andrew Liddle follows a very simple approach with just Newtonian physics in order to accurately produce the Friedmann and acceleration equations which are the prerequisites for starting the study of the various cosmological models.

The derivation of Friedmann and accelerations is followed by a very friendly description of what the curvature term means, in terms of geometry, and the next chapters deals with simple solutions of Friedmann equation and the description of the corresponding cosmological models. These solutions are not realistic, as proven from various cosmological observations, thus the presentation of the cosmological constant added to Friedmann equation is inevitable. The author describes the impact of this constant on the evolution of the various cosmological models corresponding to different curvature, and explain its existence with dark energy and in the case of inflation period, with an unknown scalar field.

The dynamics of the Universe conclude with the calculation of the age of the Universe, through the Hubble parameter, and a presentation of all the compelling observational facts that directly lead to the notion of dark matter.

A cosmological model has no scientific value if it can’t explain the observational facts gathered by astronomers. The rest two chapters are a very nice presentation of how the cosmic microwave background leads us to the notion of Hot Big Bang and how the process of nucleosynthesis and the abundance of elements in the Universe prove to be an extraordinarily powerful test for the Hot Big Bang model.

Even though the Hot Big Bang model is very successful, it suffers from serious deficiencies like the Flatness Problem, the Horizon Problem and the inability to detect relic particles like monopoles. Here is the place where the author with very simple way explains the Theory of Inflation and how not only resolves the problems of Hot Big Bang but it also set possible explanations on how the Big Bang started.

The last chapter is devoted to the meaning of singularity and if such a peculiarity is absolutely necessary to exist as the beginning of the Universe.

The style of writing is extremely simple but without compromising the rigor of physics. It truly is a very friendly and fun reading introductory book which the reader will enjoy a lot. It successfully presents both the theoretical aspects of modern cosmology accompanied by the observational facts that support the Standard Cosmological Model. The reader need to have undergraduate level knowledge of physics but a lot of patience, persistence and imagination not because the book is not well written but because cosmology is kind of abstract. The book is also supplemented with advanced topics for the most advanced reader.

I fully recommend this book and I reassure anyone who decides to buy it that he will literally make the most imaginative, yet realistic, travel to the furthest corners of space and time.
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on 30 May 2002
I just read this book cover to cover about three times for my Physics course, and its a great little book.
Its one of the few text books i would recommend to a non Physicist (Though you do need a decent level of mathematical knowledge.)
It covers all of cosmology and the bigbang theory without resorting to Relativity and as such allows you to get to grasps with the concepts behind the universe with ease.
It allows the reader to understand the nature of the universe quite deeply for it size, and keeps you entertained throughout. It would be a great addition to anybody studying the subject as it wont overload you with hugh reams of text. The ideas are presently quickly and explained well.
The best recommendation i can give it, is that after a years studying its the only one i'll read again for entertainment.
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on 9 November 2011
Having used this book for a 3rd year physics course on cosmology, I can say that it is a wonderful introduction to the subject for physicists or anyone with an interest in cosmology.

The book carefully guides you through all the basic topics, in enough detail and rigour to keep physicists happy, in a way that is easily understandable to most people who have a basic understanding of calculus, but with a conversational tone (compared to most textbooks anyway) that keeps the reading fairly light and interesting. The lengths of the book also helps in this respect, as it is not very thick.

I liked the logical flow of the chapters, leading you from basic ideas of topology to the friedman equations to some of the more advanced ideas about the early universe.

The book is not the be-all-end-all of cosmology text books, as it is only an introduction and skirts briefly over some of the more advanced sections, but if you are looking for an introduction to the subject I have not found a better one!
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on 5 May 2015
What I was looking for was a book that would provide me with a clear overview of modern cosmology that avoids mathematical rigour. This has met my every expectation. The dialogue is clear, concise and easily assimilated. It uses the very minimum of mathematical knowlege and approaches from the physics viewpoint. Thr reader with little mathematical knowledge will still gain considerably from this text, those with a higher level of mathematical skill will find it a gateway into more rigorous text. The author has achieved a good balance by prividing an introductory text for the non-mathematician and mathemetician alike.
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on 7 June 2015
Without the benefit of learning through lectures, this text is academic in nature and quite a challenging read. Nevertheless, the author, who comes across as an authority on the subject, effectively differentiates between areas of cosmology that are based on facts rather than those that are educated guesses.
The title is misleading, this book is, in my opinion, far more than an Introduction and therefore I wouldn't recommend it as the first book a budding Cosmologist should read. In my case it is the 4th book I've read which lays foundations for the subject matter, and it fits very well.
In summary, this is a very good text book written by an expert that will tax your brain cells and will need to be read more than once. It is well worth investing your time and hard earned cash in this book.
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on 30 May 2010
Absolutely fantastic for my Cosmology 1 course at university. I'd say that 1st year degree level of Maths and Physics is needed to fully understand this book. It's got a perfect balance of mathematics like derivations of formulae and text to explain what is going on and what the chapter is about. Would strongly recommend it for anyone taking Cosmology at university.
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on 21 September 2012
I really found the brevity of the chapters a plus. Enough in each to make you think but also the time to reflect before moving on.
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on 30 December 2014
I haven't done any form of astronomy since A level physics and I didn't find it overly complicated at all. Great introductory book and genuinely interesting to read. Would strongly recommend.
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