Alpha and Omega: The Search for the Beginning and End of the Universe / Edition 1

Alpha and Omega: The Search for the Beginning and End of the Universe / Edition 1

by Charles Seife
4.0 5
ISBN-10:
0142004464
ISBN-13:
2900142004462
Pub. Date:
06/01/2004
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
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Alpha and Omega: The Search for the Beginning and End of the Universe 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was such a great book. It helps people who don't really know and appreciate astronomy understand it fantasticly. I am a total astronomy freak, and I learned alot from this book. It was also a fun book to read, so it was a win-win situation. DEFINITELY buy this book, or at least read it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Alpha & Omega delves into the mysteries of the Universe from its beginning to how it will end. Author Charles Seife is not one of the leading frontiersmen of the subject but rather understands it in such a way that he can relay the information to the general public in an understandable way. This is one of the most fascinating topics the human race has ever fathomed to believe in and I believe that is the main reason Seife chose to release this book. He is aware that the topic is immensely complex and compressing it into a completely comprehensible 250 pages is amazing. He breaks down every major achievement on the topic with easy-to-understand language, diagrams, and equations. Accompanied with footnotes (some more humorous than others), this book is hardly boring. I believe that this book is a must for anyone who is curious about the universe¿s greatest mysteries and who finds it amazing that physicists can conceive of theories about something so vast and huge and untouchable and that are actually very accurate. It is not a difficult read and the subject matter is so intense that your head will be swimming for days from the knowledge packed into this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
When beginning to read the book I was a bit weary, but when finished I was quite satisfied. An enjoyable book and in the long run was worth reading.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Charles Seife¿s new book on cosmology is paradoxical. It ought to be outstanding, but it trips itself up on the way to excellence. First off, Seife is without doubt a fabulous science writer, blessed with that rare ability to take seemingly impenetrable concepts and express them in a manageable, interesting, comprehensible way for the lay reader. He has a good command of his subject and an enthusiasm for it that¿s contagious. Seife discusses cosmological theories ranging from ancient mystical and religious philosophies (like Ptolemy¿s simple geocentric model) to the data- and mathematics-driven theories of the 20th century. He suggests that we are in the midst of a major revolution in our cosmological worldview comparable to the Copernican Revolution of the 1500s and the Big Bang theory of the early-mid 20th century. He cites the recent (apparent) discovery of an accelerating cosmic expansion as evidence that our understanding of the universe¿s basic structure is undergoing a major revamp. Seife is at his best when he discusses work on the recalcitrant mysteries of the so-called dark matter and dark energy. Our equations seem to suggest over 90% of the universe¿s mass and energy consists of something other than the matter and energy that we¿re acustomed to, the stuff that we can see with our telescopes and fit into easily-defined particle physics models. The so-called ¿dark matter¿ doesn¿t emit light and does not make its presence obvious, while the ¿dark energy¿ seems to represent something in the fabric of space that¿s pushing it outward¿but nobody really knows. Seife delves into the latest research on these phenomena and presents some plausible explanations, while shedding light on the most fascinating efforts currently taking place among different groups. Seife¿s discussion of the gravity-wave phenomenon¿and the relentless search to detect such waves, is also eye-opening. For all these assets, Seife¿s book seems to lapse uncharacteristically in several places. It¿s beset by a strange dissonance in its tone and what it actually says especially in its later portions. Seife starts out the book (and lines its jacket) crowing about how the biggest mysteries have been solved, how recent work has conclusively answered the most ancient mysteries of cosmology. It obviously hasn¿t and isn¿t even close, and Seife himself seems to know this¿he talks with fascination about the latest oddities of string theory and their still unknowable implications, moving into the realm of ekpyrotic theory and the mind-stretching ideas about parallel universes. So then why does Seife, in so many places, seem to act as though the big questions (even they can even be asked yet) have cut-and-dry answers? He¿s able to venture out and contemplate models of the universe that toss out even the most basic notions of time¿s advance and the structure of matter, yet he winds up falling back on the same old linear, oversimplified assumptions of old. It¿s a highly disappointing mistake. One could chalk his overexuberance up to the hyperbole that draws attention to books, but many other books in this field manage to convey the same level of fascination without falling into the same traps. Seife takes some of the recent discoveries seemingly as established fact when many of them are still under intense debate. He should have plied more into the lingering doubts and questions about the Supernova data and the dark matter work, which would have modestly reduced the ¿ooh-aah¿ factor but made the book far more accurate. The book also seems to have been pushed forward a bit too fast in some places, as there are some needless typos and grammatical errors, and the figures are so-so in their utility to the reader. This book still gets my nod, but I¿d suggest that it be used