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4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 10 March 2011
I think, with regard to my review title, Brian Cox would be pleased. This book really is superb, it is written with a Childs sense of awe and wonder at the majesty of the world around us. An artist once said that a scientist doesn't see a flower in all it's beauty as if science detracts from the aesthetics of it, Richard Feynman - famous physicist - objected, saying I see the flower and so much more, it's beauty is not diminished with this new understanding. There is a strong thread of pride at the achievements of mankind running through this book, and so there should be! We have done some amazing things, and with equal measure Professor Cox pays homage to those great minds who have unravelled such tantalising mysteries as there are in the world and beyond. I'm a scientist myself but not in this field, I have however been looking at light phenomena and in particular about Fraunhofer lines. Professor Cox has done a brilliant job of explaining simply and in a connected way the light phenomena we experience. This is key to good storytelling that it is connected whilst expanding our view of the world and beyond.
Do yourself a favour, buy this book, get excited and enjoy the ride. The best of human endeavours is paraded before your very eyes, be humbled by it and better yet take part!
Thanks for reading
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on 12 March 2011
Sequel to the "Wonders of the Solar System" and companion to BBC TV series of the same name, Brian Cox takes us on a personal guided tour from the birth of the Universe to the end of time and beyond. Split into four main chapters Messengers, Stardust, Falling and Destiny, topics include; What is Light?, Time Travel, The Big Bang, Life and Death of Stars, Gravity and Relativity and the ultimate fate of the Universe.

The one thing for which this book stands out from other books of this subject is the way concepts are explained using real analogies here on Earth. This gives a sense of reality and something tangeable to relate to. For example, Brian Cox's explanation of entropy was especially clear using a simple example with sandcastles, a concept not easily understood for the lay-person and even the budding astrophycisist.

My one and only critique is that the style of graphics gives the book a retro 1980's feel... and in fact I felt that I have seen many of the images before in books from that period, although perhaps I am missing the point!

My personal favorite of the two books in the series. Highly recommended.
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on 9 April 2011
Professor Brian Cox's latest television series "Wonders of the Universe" was received with mixed appraise by the British public. Some found its presentation overly theatrical; others complained of the overblown soundtrack. Admittedly, I found that this follow up series was a little weaker in content than its fabulous predecessor, "Wonders of the Solar System", perhaps because this first series was far more focussed in terms of subject matter. Even so, I enjoyed WOTU thoroughly, and I speak only praise for Brian Cox's presentational style, which, as always, was delivered in an intelligible and enthusiastic manner - two qualities, I feel, that are the makings of good documentary television. Indeed, Brian himself responded to recent viewer complaints by saying: "At the end of the day it's a piece of film on television ... not a lecture" - I couldn't agree more.

As one would expect, the accompanying book is presented in a similar style: it draws on each of the four main themes of the series - light, cosmology, gravity, and time - using the analogies and case studies discussed on film. Though the book expands on this material, it does not go into prolonged or unnecessary detail, so those readers wishing to learn much more about the subjects explored in the tv series should look elsewhere. I, however, have found the book useful as a means of reiterating some of the more complex theories and principles behind cosmology, particularly with regard to particle physics, space-time, and stellar chemistry. The book is coherent and comprehensible, even to those with limited scientific capacity (like me); though I must admit that some of the mathematics and physics of it all was beyond my ability...

Despite being impressed both with the book's content and aesthetics (the book is very well illustrated throughout), it is a shame that it is riddled with so many grammatical and typographical errors. This is a little pedantic of me, I'll admit, but when I fork over my cash for something I naturally expect it to meet high standards. The Universe is a vast and baffling place, but it is even more so when Brian tells you it is both "93 billion" and "45 billion" light years across - that is quite a large discrepancy. Throughout the book there are a number of grammatical errors that disjoint the flow of the text, giving every impression that it was neither edited, or even proof-read, before publication. The book appears to have been hastily assembled and thrown onto the shelves; a little extra time spent checking for errors would have delivered a far more satisfying product.

That said, these printing errors are a minor issue in an otherwise brilliant - and highly recommended - book. If you enjoyed the television series, I am sure you will find this book equally captivating.
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on 20 March 2011
Enjoying the TV series. However, this gives a lot more detail and information, plus you can absorb some of the ideas at your own pace.
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on 3 April 2011
I'd been thinking about buying this book in the hardcover version but having just bought an iPad I thought it would be a great first buy in the kindle format. How wrong I was! Don't get me wrong, the reading experience is great and the text is wonderful both in content and layout. The problem is the graphics and images, which are one of the key attractions of this type of book, are sadly lacking both in clarity and resolution. For example the diagram/image that appears on page23-24 in the hardcover version, showing our position in the universe, has captions that are unreadable. I wish I'd bought a hard copy now. I wonder if the authors and publisher realise how poorly their work is being represented.

Note: I've updated my rating of the item to 5 stars as I'm advised that the rating is for the book in all it's forms, not just the Kindle version. I'm enjoying the book as a text but my comments re the Kindle version still stand.
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on 7 March 2011
I've got many a book on physics and space and the inerworkings of atoms and light; but this book just seems to pull all that together in one place with a fantasic path through the lot... Very easy to follow and with all the key points beautifully explained and crafted to make it interesting too; I'd rate this as pertty much the best book for the subject I have, so if your like me, average chap (or lady) ;-) that has a great interest and is fascinated by all things space, light, atoms and things that pop up from nothing then this really is a treat... as the title says; I'd rate it as brilliant...! you wont be dissapointed...
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on 24 March 2011
I'm waiting for the Brian Cox backlash but frankly, nuts to those who want to take potshots at Professor Cox. This book and his TV series are helping make science explicable and fun to learn. He clearly is in a sense of wonder and that might irritate some people but underneath that veneer of boyish enthusiasm, he clearly knows his stuff and is keen to communicate complex concepts in an easy to understand manner. I don't envy him as entropy and spacetime don't lend themselves to single sentence descriptions. Frankly, if the periodic table had been demonstrated to me in graffiti on the walls of a ruined Brazilian prison, I might have got an A in my O'level Chemistry. I think with science under attack, particularly in the US, let's thank Cox and take him seriously. He's fighting a good fight.
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on 18 March 2011
Professor Brian Cox is back with another insightful and mind-blowing exploration of space. This time he shows us our universe as we've never seen it before. 13.7 billion years old. 93 billion light years wide. It contains over 100 billion galaxies, each containing hundreds of billions of stars. This infinite, vast and complex Universe has been the subject of human fascination and scientific exploration for thousands of years. The wonders of the Universe might seem alien to us and impossible to understand, but away from the telescopes, the labs and the white coats, Professor Brian Cox uses the evidence found in the natural world around us to explain its simple truths. Travelling to the North Pole, Professor Cox demonstrates how spinning worlds create electrical currents and magnetism; he looks at the South Pacific Ocean to explain how the Universe communicates and moves in waves; he shows us how the water of the Angel Falls waterfall in Venezuela behaves exactly like the light does around a black hole. The same laws of light, gravity, time, matter and energy that govern us here on Earth are the same as those applied in the Universe.Using 3D CGI imagery, his expert knowledge and his infectious enthusiasm, Professor Cox shows us that if we can understand the impact of these governing laws on Earth it will bring us a step closer to an understanding of our Universe.
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on 1 November 2011
I love books, but sometimes you can get bogged down with all the wording and you just want a diagram to show you. This book is well illustrated. It is easy to read without being patronising, but also for the academics out there it covers some more in depth themes. My friend loves all this stuff so I have bought it for a present- but I keep reading it! Good value too, cheapest I've seen it was £10 at a halfprice book event in my supermarket. I would recommend this to anyone aged 13- 103. Well written.
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on 22 December 2011
Purchased this book for my 12 year old daughter who is fascintated by programmes of Brian Cox. I bought this book for her for christmas and I'm sure that I will be enjoying her knowledge of what she reads. Great Book.
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