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Astrophysicist George Smoot spent decades pursuing the origin of the cosmos, "the holy grail of science," a relentless hunt that led him from the rain forests of Brazil to the frozen wastes of Antarctica. In his search he struggled against time, the elements, and the forces of ignorance and bureaucratic insanity. Finally, after years of research, Smoot and his dedicated team of Berkeley researchers succeeded in proving the unprovable—uncovering, inarguably and for all time, the secrets of the creation of the ...
Astrophysicist George Smoot spent decades pursuing the origin of the cosmos, "the holy grail of science," a relentless hunt that led him from the rain forests of Brazil to the frozen wastes of Antarctica. In his search he struggled against time, the elements, and the forces of ignorance and bureaucratic insanity. Finally, after years of research, Smoot and his dedicated team of Berkeley researchers succeeded in proving the unprovable—uncovering, inarguably and for all time, the secrets of the creation of the universe. Wrinkles in Time describes this startling discovery that would usher in a new scientific age—and win Smoot the Nobel Prize in Physics.
The eagerly-awaited personal story behind astrophysicist George Smoot's incredible discovery of the origin of the cosmos, hailed by Stephen Hawking as "The scientific discovery of the century, if not of all time."
Posted March 28, 2000
Stephen Hawking, one of the most prominent geniuses of our time, called George Smoot and his colleagues' discovery of wrinkles in time, 'the scientific discovery of the century, if not of all time.' The cosmological discovery of ripples in the universe's background radiation has indeed changed our concept of the origins of an expanding and evolving universe. In the words of George Smoot: 'Our discovery of the wrinkles in the fabric of time is part of that eternal quest and marks an important step forward in this golden age of technology. Suddenly, pieces of a larger puzzle begin to fall together: Inflation looks stronger, and dark matter more real. Our faith in the big bang is revitalized... The creativity of the universe is its most potent force, forming through time the matter and structures of stars and galaxies, and, ultimately, us. The wrinkles are the core of that creativity, assembling structure from homogeneity.' Perhaps one does not understand such complex terms as 'background radiation,' as was my case when I began reading Wrinkles in Time. The authors, George Smoot and Keay Davidson, successfully explain these complicated concepts in lay terms. The book first guides the reader through the history modern cosmological theory, beginning with Ptolemy's picture of the Universe through to the origin of the Big Bang theory formulated by Georges-Henri Lemaître. Once the reader understands the evolution of cosmology and astrophysics, George Smoot begins his detailed account of the search for 'dipoles,' 'quadrupoles,' and, ultimately, 'wrinkles in time.' His discovery, of tremendous significance to both science and philosophy, required decades of research, billions of dollars, and a highly specialized team of cosmologists, physicists, chemists, and engineers. After many frustrating attempts to discover the secret of the universe by launching their equipment on giant helium balloons and World War II U2 aircraft, Smoot and his team turned to NASA. After many months of hard work, they finally saw their instruments launched into space on a Delta rocket. Once in orbit, the device detected what the team sought to find. However, one can never be too confident in science. To make sure that the readings obtained in space were not simply a result of radio interference, the team set off for Antarctica. There, only a few miles away from the South Pole, and at temperatures of -73oF, George Smoot and Giovanni D Amici, among others, confirmed what they had detected in the Northern Hemisphere: fluctuations in the universe' background radiation. These wrinkles in time are the seeds of galaxies; some found through the study to be hundreds times larger than ever imagined. The implications of this discovery are colossal. Wrinkles in Time, however, does not elaborate on the philosophical significance of an infinite universe as do some other works. For example, Gary Zukav's The Dancing Wu Li Masters and Fritjof Capra's The Tao of Physics advance the notion that the universe bloomed out of zero volume, creating time and space as it grew. For readers who have never picked up a science book in their lives, do not start with Wrinkles in Time. There are long, detailed chapters that explain the technicalities of the equipment and of the study. On the other hand, for anyone interested in learning about mystifying concepts of the universe, Wrinkles in Time is an enlightening book that is well worth the time investment of a prolonged reading. As John L. Casti, author of Paradigms Lost: Images of Man in the Mirror of Science, affirms, the book is 'a must read for anyone interested in the way science is really done.'Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.