Ancient Light / Edition 1

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Overview

In the most comprehensive, up-to-date, and lucid exploration of cosmology available today, MIT astrophysicist and science writer Alan Lightman takes the reader on a grand tour of the universe. In this slim volume he explores the history of cosmology, the theories and the evidence, the new discoveries, the outstanding questions, and the controversies.
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Editorial Reviews

New York Times Book Review

A short, understandable account of our changing view of the universe and of the scientists who are behind that change...Lightman has done a good job of telling the story of an exciting science.
— William Kolata

Boston Sunday Globe

Alan Lightman seeks to mediate between the worlds of modern cosmology and ordinary perception outside its strange precincts—explaining its major theories in simplified terms, introducing its cast...One senses in Ancient Light Alan Lightman's respect for the tiny wondering human mind, whatever its ability to grasp the conundrums of modern cosmology.
— David Mehegan

Boston Phoenix Literary Section

Lyrical...With its reliance on plain English, metaphor, and creative analogy, Ancient Light brings cosmic abstractions down to Earth with nary a jolt. This little book is a must-read for anyone whose gaze extends beyond his or her own world into the one we—and our ancestors—share.
— Thea Singer

New Scientist

A charming, lucid, and accessible book that is the epitome of good popular science. I have read no finer introduction to cosmology.
— David Hughes

New York Times Book Review - William Kolata
A short, understandable account of our changing view of the universe and of the scientists who are behind that change...Lightman has done a good job of telling the story of an exciting science.
Boston Sunday Globe - David Mehegan
Alan Lightman seeks to mediate between the worlds of modern cosmology and ordinary perception outside its strange precincts--explaining its major theories in simplified terms, introducing its cast...One senses in Ancient Light Alan Lightman's respect for the tiny wondering human mind, whatever its ability to grasp the conundrums of modern cosmology.
Boston Phoenix Literary Section - Thea Singer
Lyrical...With its reliance on plain English, metaphor, and creative analogy, Ancient Light brings cosmic abstractions down to Earth with nary a jolt. This little book is a must-read for anyone whose gaze extends beyond his or her own world into the one we--and our ancestors--share.
New Scientist - David Hughes
A charming, lucid, and accessible book that is the epitome of good popular science. I have read no finer introduction to cosmology.
Boston Sunday Globe
Alan Lightman seeks to mediate between the worlds of modern cosmology and ordinary perception outside its strange precincts--explaining its major theories in simplified terms, introducing its cast...One senses in Ancient Light Alan Lightman's respect for the tiny wondering human mind, whatever its ability to grasp the conundrums of modern cosmology.
— David Mehegan
New Scientist
A charming, lucid, and accessible book that is the epitome of good popular science. I have read no finer introduction to cosmology.
— David Hughes
New York Times Book Review
A short, understandable account of our changing view of the universe and of the scientists who are behind that change...Lightman has done a good job of telling the story of an exciting science.
— William Kolata
Boston Phoenix Literary Section
Lyrical...With its reliance on plain English, metaphor, and creative analogy, Ancient Light brings cosmic abstractions down to Earth with nary a jolt. This little book is a must-read for anyone whose gaze extends beyond his or her own world into the one we--and our ancestors--share.
— Thea Singer
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The Big Bang model of the cosmos assumes a uniform, homogeneous universe, yet we now know that galaxies cluster together. This ``lumpiness'' of matter, along with the peculiar velocities of some galaxies and the superabundance of invisible ``dark matter'' (detected--but not glimpsed--through gravitational studies) has led many scientists to question the Big Bang and even to pose alternate models. MIT astrophysicist Lightman looks at these developments in a concise, enjoyable introduction to the major problems and controversies at the frontiers of cosmology. He reviews the latest descriptions of the birth of the universe during the first trillionth of a second, scans the new collaboration between particle physics and cosmology, and unravels the search for a GUT (grand unified theory) that would link the fundamental forces of nature. Photos, diagrams, a glossary and biographical sketches of key figures help make this a highly accessible tour of the universe. (Oct.)
Booknews
MIT physicist Lightman tells the story of cosmology, new discoveries, the outstanding questions, and the controversies. His striking and original analogies make the subject accessible to the general reader. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674033634
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 2/1/1993
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 188
  • Product dimensions: 0.40 (w) x 6.14 (h) x 9.21 (d)

Meet the Author

Alan Lightman is Professor of Science and Writing and Senior Lecturer in Physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is also a Research Scientist at the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.
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Table of Contents

Cosmic Questions

Early Cosmologies

The Birth of Modern Cosmology

The Big Bang Model

Other Cosmological Models

Difficulties with the Big Bang Model

Large-Scale Structure and Dark Matter

Instruments and Technology

Initial Conditions and Quantum Cosmology

Particle Physics, the New Cosmology, and the Inflationary Universe Model

The Anthropic Principle

At Home

Notes

Glossary

Acknowledgments

Illustration Credits

Index

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