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Cosmic Numbers: The Numbers That Define Our Universe

Average Rating 4.5
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  • Posted July 14, 2012

    I highly recommend this book it to scientists looking to learn m

    I highly recommend this book it to scientists looking to learn more about the human side of the individuals who contributed to understanding and quantifying the 13 ‘Cosmic Numbers’ described in these 13 chapters. Prof. Stein is an excellent writer, combining historical and scientific fact with well argued opinions and a few tangents that make it a fun text. However, I do have two basic issues with ‘Cosmic Numbers’, and one question. My first issue is that there are no figures to illustrate any of the concepts or experiments described in the text. This in turn made it difficult to envision (for example) the torsion balance used by Henry Cavendish to measure the density of the Earth (page 10, and from this, the magnitude of the Gravitational Constant, G), how a beam of light moving on a wall can exceed the speed of light (page 25), or the geometry behind Prof. Stein’s explanation of time dilation (page 176). My second issue was the absence of units in the numerical expressions presented to quantify the magnitude of various phenomenon or values. Writing out these expressions as is done in standard undergraduate workbooks (that is, with units after each number and separating the formulas from the main text) would greatly enhance the ease of reading. Finally, my question is, who is the intended audience? The book jumps in depth from showing step by step algebraic manipulations (page 87) to assuming the reader is familiar with Euler’s number and the functional notation of calculus, e.g., f(r) = er (all within Chapter 8, The Planck Constant). I believe this book would best be appreciated by persons with a technical background, or (better yet) by budding scientists/engineers as a way to learn about the amazing people behind these cosmic numbers.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 29, 2011

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