The Amazing Unity of the Universe: And Its Origin in the Big Bang, Edition 2

Springer
6
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In the first chapters the author describes how our knowledge of the position of Earth in space and time has developed, thanks to the work of many generations of astronomers and physicists. He discusses how our position in the Galaxy was discovered, and how in 1929, Hubble uncovered the fact that the Universe is expanding, leading to the picture of the Big Bang. He then explains how astronomers have found that the laws of physics that were discovered here on Earth and in the Solar System (the laws of mechanics, gravity, atomic physics, electromagnetism, etc.) are valid throughout the Universe. This is illustrated by the fact that all matter in the Universe consists of atoms of the same chemical elements that we know on Earth. This unity is all the more surprising when one realizes that in the original Big Bang theory, different parts of the Universe could never have communicated with each other. It then is a mystery how they could have shared the same physical laws. This problem was solved by the introduction of the idea of inflation, a phase of extremely rapid expansion of the Universe during the first fraction of a second following the Big Bang. The author explains how the unity of the Universe finds its origin in the Big Bang prior to inflation. The book addresses the many fundamental questions about the Universe and its contents from the perspective of the Big Bang: the formation of structure in the Universe, the questions of the mysterious dark matter and dark energy, the possibilities of other Universes (the Multiverse) and of the existence of intelligent life elsewhere in the Universe.

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About the author

Edward van den Heuvel received his Ph.D.in the Mathematical and Physical Sciences at the University of Utrecht in 1968. He worked at the University of California, Santa Cruz from 1968 to 1969, at the University of Utrecht from 1969 to 1974, and at the University of Brussels from 1970 to 1980. Since 1974 he has been Professor of Astrophysics at the University of Amsterdam and until 2005, Director of the Astronomical Institute there. He has been awarded the Physica Prize (the highest prize of the Netherlands Physical Society NNV), the Spinoza Prize (the highest science prize of the Netherlands) and the Descartes Prize (the highest science prize of the European Commission). Professor van den Heuvel was a Board Member and Chair of the Netherlands Space Research Organization, Chair of the Netherlands Foundation for Research in Astronomy, a Board Member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Sciences, and the Founding Chair of the Netherlands Research School for Astronomy. Professor van den Heuvel’s fields of expertise include stellar evolution, the physics of neutron stars and black holes, X-ray astronomy and radio pulsars.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Springer
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Published on
Jul 20, 2016
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Pages
315
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ISBN
9783319235431
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Language
English
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Genres
Nature / Sky Observation
Science / Astronomy
Science / Cosmology
Science / Physics / Astrophysics
Science / Physics / Relativity
Technology & Engineering / Aeronautics & Astronautics
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Recent discoveries in astronomy, especially those made with data collected by satellites such as the Hubble Space Telescope and the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe, have revolutionized the science of cosmology. These new observations offer the possibility that some long-standing mysteries in cosmology might be answered, including such fundamental questions as the ultimate fate of the universe. Foundations of modern cosmology provides an accessible, thorough and descriptive introduction to the physical basis for modern cosmological theory, from the big bang to a distant future dominated by dark energy. This second edition includes the latest observational results and provides the detailed background material necessary to understand their implications, with a focus on the specific model supported by these observations, the concordance model. Consistent with the book's title, emphasis is given to the scientific framework for cosmology, particularly the basics concepts of physics that underlie modern theories of relativity and cosmology; the importance of data and observations is stressed throughout. The book sketches the historical background of cosmology, and provides a review of the relevant basic physics and astronomy. After this introduction, both special and general relativity are treated, before proceeding to an in-depth discussion of the big bang theory and physics of the early universe. The book includes current research areas, including dark matter and structure formation, dark energy, the inflationary universe, and quantum cosmology. The authors' website (http://www.astro.virginia.edu/~jh8h/Foundations) offers a wealth of supplemental information, including questions and answers, references to other sources, and updates on the latest discoveries.
Calibrating the Cosmos describes hard science, but is gently written. It explains in clear, non-mathematical language the measurements and the interpretation of the resulting data that have led to the current understanding of the origin, evolution and properties of our expanding Big Bang universe.

Many people have a sketchy idea of the work of cosmologists, but Professor Levin’s experience in teaching both scientific and liberal arts students has enabled him to impart much of our current thinking without resorting to difficult mathematics. Theoretical concepts are emphasized, in particular the symmetries of homogeneity and isotropy enjoyed by our universe on the largest scales, how these symmetries lead to only one quantity being needed to describe the growth of the universe from its infancy to the present time, and how the so-called parameters of the universe are the ingredients used to construct the model universes to which ours – the real thing – is compared.

Levin includes the 2003 results from the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) and the 2003 and 2004 results of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey to ensure that the book is up to date. He explains the relevance of the discoveries done by the new physics Nobel laureates Smoot and Mather!

Background material is provided in the first four chapters; the current picture and how it was attained are discussed in the next four chapters; and some unsolved problems and conjectured solutions are explored in the final chapter.

Given the fact that there are perhaps 400 billion stars in our Galaxy alone, and perhaps 400 billion galaxies in the Universe, it stands to reason that somewhere out there, in the 14-billion-year-old cosmos, there is or once was a civilization at least as advanced as our own. The sheer enormity of the numbers almost demands that we accept the truth of this hypothesis. Why, then, have we encountered no evidence, no messages, no artifacts of these extraterrestrials?

In this second, significantly revised and expanded edition of his widely popular book, Webb discusses in detail the (for now!) 75 most cogent and intriguing solutions to Fermi's famous paradox: If the numbers strongly point to the existence of extraterrestrial civilizations, why have we found no evidence of them?

Reviews from the first edition:

"Amidst the plethora of books that treat the possibility of extraterrestrial intelligence, this one by Webb ... is outstanding. ... Each solution is presented in a very logical, interesting, thorough manner with accompanying explanations and notes that the intelligent layperson can understand. Webb digs into the issues ... by considering a very broad set of in-depth solutions that he addresses through an interesting and challenging mode of presentation that stretches the mind. ... An excellent book for anyone who has ever asked ‘Are we alone?’." (W. E. Howard III, Choice, March, 2003)

"Fifty ideas are presented ... that reveal a clearly reasoned examination of what is known as ‘The Fermi Paradox’. ... For anyone who enjoys a good detective story, or using their thinking faculties and stretching the imagination to the limits ... ‘Where is everybody’ will be enormously informative and entertaining. ... Read this book, and whatever your views are about life elsewhere in the Universe, your appreciation for how special life is here on Earth will be enhanced! A worthy addition to any personal library." (Philip Bridle, BBC Radio, March, 2003)

Since gaining a BSc in physics from the University of Bristol and a PhD in theoretical physics from the University of Manchester, Stephen Webb has worked in a variety of universities in the UK. He is a regular contributor to the Yearbook of Astronomy series and has published an undergraduate textbook on distance determination in astronomy and cosmology as well as several popular science books. His interest in the Fermi paradox combines lifelong interests in both science and science fiction.

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