The Cosmic Cocktail: Three Parts Dark Matter

The Cosmic Cocktail: Three Parts Dark Matter

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by Katherine Freese

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The ordinary atoms that make up the known universe—from our bodies and the air we breathe to the planets and stars—constitute only 5 percent of all matter and energy in the cosmos. The rest is known as dark matter and dark energy, because their precise identities are unknown. The Cosmic Cocktail is the inside story of the epic quest to solve one


The ordinary atoms that make up the known universe—from our bodies and the air we breathe to the planets and stars—constitute only 5 percent of all matter and energy in the cosmos. The rest is known as dark matter and dark energy, because their precise identities are unknown. The Cosmic Cocktail is the inside story of the epic quest to solve one of the most compelling enigmas of modern science—what is the universe made of?—told by one of today’s foremost pioneers in the study of dark matter.

Blending cutting-edge science with her own behind-the-scenes insights as a leading researcher in the field, acclaimed theoretical physicist Katherine Freese recounts the hunt for dark matter, from the discoveries of visionary scientists like Fritz Zwicky—the Swiss astronomer who coined the term “dark matter” in 1933—to the deluge of data today from underground laboratories, satellites in space, and the Large Hadron Collider. Theorists contend that dark matter consists of fundamental particles known as WIMPs, or weakly interacting massive particles. Billions of them pass through our bodies every second without us even realizing it, yet their gravitational pull is capable of whirling stars and gas at breakneck speeds around the centers of galaxies, and bending light from distant bright objects. Freese describes the larger-than-life characters and clashing personalities behind the race to identify these elusive particles.

Many cosmologists believe we are on the verge of solving the mystery. The Cosmic Cocktail provides the foundation needed to fully fathom this epochal moment in humankind’s quest to understand the universe.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Freese, a professor of physics at the University of Michigan, begins this exploration into the mystery of dark matter by relating her journey to become one of the field’s early researchers. Years of collecting data and positing unknown cosmic entities led to the probable existence of this substance, and evidence slowly began to appear despite scientists’ inability to quantify the “collisionless dark matter.” As background, Freese describes general relativity, Hubble expansion, quarks, and antimatter, doing her best to present abstruse concepts clearly, and sprinkling the text with personal anecdotes. However, her explanations too often presuppose a better grasp of university-level physics than most laypeople will possess, and the alphabet soup of acronyms only adds to potential confusion (a reference glossary would help the reader keep these straight). Although Freese does her best to elucidate extremely difficult material, she compares studying physics without math to listening to poetry in a language one doesn’t know: “Without having learned the language of mathematics.+.. its beauty is hard to access.” Sadly, it’s an apt analogy and the mystery of dark matter remains lost in the translation. (July)
From the Publisher
"In The Cosmic Cocktail, Professor Katie Freese offers a gripping first-person account of her life as a cosmologist. The recipe? Part memoir, part tutorial, part social commentary. Shaken, not stirred."—Neil deGrasse Tyson, astrophysicist, host of the television series Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey

"In prose as in life, Katherine Freese is never boring. . . . Clear and accessible . . . The Cosmic Cocktail is an excellent primer for the intrigued generalist, or for those who have spent too much time in particle-physics labs and want to catch up on what cosmologists are up to."—Francis Halzen,Nature

"Freese . . . tells a lively personal tale of her trajectory through the world of science. . . . You end up thinking that being a physicist is certainly important and definitely difficult—but it could also be a lot of fun."—Nancy Szokan, Washington Post

"This book blends two rather different flavours. . . . First is the enormous excitement of working on a front-line problem in science. . . . The other is the great fun Katie has had, and continues to have, being a female physicist. . . . A number of other front-line particle physicists, cosmologists and so forth have also written up their versions of the dark matter story. . . . But none of the other accounts I've read is more fun than The Cosmic Cocktail."—Virginia Trimble, Times Higher Education

"This is an important and thought-provoking book."—Shawn Donnan, Financial Times

"Freese's extensive research in this field, and her familiarity with many of the other key researchers in dark matter, helps give The Cosmic Cocktail a human touch: she sprinkles into the book anecdotes from her own career and meetings with other scientists throughout."—Jeff Foust, Space Review

"Physicist Katherine Freese drinks deep of her life's adventures and cosmic mysteries alike in her captivatingly frank book The Cosmic Cocktail. Why do tales of major scientific endeavours, told from the viewpoint of a single participant, rarely make captivating reading? Frankly, because few scientists are that interesting to the general public, and fewer still possess the trick of passionate engagement. Luckily, The Cosmic Cocktail is an exception. . . . The Cosmic Cocktail is a refreshingly honest account of a frontier field where the author's enthusiasm and sense of fun shine through every page."—Marcus Chown,New Scientist

"Check out The Cosmic Cocktail to get an exciting look at the forefront of astrophysics!"Astro Guyz blog

"Freese successfully treads the line between assuming too much of her readers and missing out key aspects of the story to simplify it. . . . [She] gives context and insight into a complex and fast-moving field."—Nicky Guttridge, BBC Sky at Night

"[I]f you have some science background and want to improve your overall understanding of the Universe without reaching for a textbook, this could be just the thing."—Ruth Angus, BBC Focus Magazine

"The story is fascinating, well told, and the balance, I think, is just right. This is a rapidly developing field of research."—Anthony Toole,

"Freese is not the first scientist to delve into the mysteries of cosmology with a popular science book, but she seems to have the most fun doing it. It's as if she's sitting at a bar describing the cool stuff she studies every day. . . . Interspersed with explanations chock-full of historical figures, numbers and acronyms are valuable insights into the human side of science."Science News

"Freese's writing style interweaves anecdotes from her personal life with the scientific explanations. . . . Especially on the topic of dark-matter detection, the book provides a valuable, nontechnical, and up-to-date overview."—Sabine Hossenfelder,Physics Today

"This new book covers in clear prose the fundamental knowledge underlying the present stage of dark matter physics. Anecdotes on the history of cosmology, including also adventures of the author, turn the book into an enjoyable reading."—Claudia-Veronika Meister, Zentralblatt MATH

"It's a very powerful book."—Pranav Sharma, Yash Pal Centre for Science and Technology

Product Details

Princeton University Press
Publication date:
Science Essentials
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Sales rank:
File size:
9 MB

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Meet the Author

Katherine Freese is director of Nordita, the Nordic Institute for Theoretical Physics, in Stockholm, and professor of physics at the University of Michigan.

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The Cosmic Cocktail: Three Parts Dark Matter 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What the universe is made of? Do we have more matter in the universe? Can this book make me understand dark matter? My purpose is to give an honest review, average person like me to understand scientific jargon, whom am I kidding. :D VERY LIMITED. Professor Freese journey and her collection of data is something to be admired. But what I know, I know a well written story and in my opinion since I'm not a scientist, I could better see the writing of this story. I like the analogies and metaphors which at times was humorous and to identify elusive particles. This book managed to make me understand and grasp the explanation of dark matter and the energized universe and that is a big thing for someone whose limitation in this genre is noticeable, so with that, I thank you. I won this book on Goodreads, First Read Giveaway. Thank you, Darlene Cruz