Cosmic Numbers: The Numbers That Define Our Universe

Cosmic Numbers: The Numbers That Define Our Universe

by James D. Stein

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780465063796
Publisher: Basic Books
Publication date: 05/28/2013
Edition description: First Trade Paper Edition
Pages: 240
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x 0.75(d)
Age Range: 9 - 18 Years

About the Author

James D. Stein is a past member of the Institute of Advanced Studies and is currently a Professor of Mathematics at California State University (Long Beach). His list of publications is extensive and includes: How to Shoot from the Hip Without Getting Shot in the Foot (with Herbert L. Stone and Charles V. Harlow); How Math Explains the World (a Scientific American Book Club selection); The Right Decision (also a Scientific American Book Club selection); and How Math Can Save Your Life. He has been a guest blogger for Psychology Today and his work has been featured in the Los Angeles Times.

Table of Contents

Preface ix

1 The Gravitational Constant 1

2 The Speed Of Light 15

3 The Ideal Gas Constant 29

4 Absolute Zero 43

5 Avogadro's Number 57

6 Electricity And The Proportionality Constant 71

7 The Boltzmann Constant 85

8 The Planck Constant 103

9 The Schwarzschild Radius 117

10 The Efficiency Of Hydrogen Fusion 133

11 The Chandrasekhar Limit 149

12 The Hubble Constant 167

13 Omega 185

Codata Note 203

Notes 207

Index 219

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Cosmic Numbers 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Carl_in_Richland More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago