Calculating the Cosmos: How Mathematics Unveils the Universe

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A prize-winning popular science writer uses mathematical modeling to explain the cosmos. In Calculating the Cosmos, Ian Stewart presents an exhilarating guide to the cosmos, from our solar system to the entire universe. He describes the architecture of space and time, dark matter and dark energy, how galaxies form, why stars implode, how everything began, and how it's all going to end. He considers parallel universes, the fine-tuning of the cosmos for life, what forms extraterrestrial life might take, and the likelihood of life on Earth being snuffed out by an asteroid.
Beginning with the Babylonian integration of mathematics into the study of astronomy and cosmology, Stewart traces the evolution of our understanding of the cosmos: How Kepler's laws of planetary motion led Newton to formulate his theory of gravity. How, two centuries later, tiny irregularities in the motion of Mars inspired Einstein to devise his general theory of relativity. How, eighty years ago, the discovery that the universe is expanding led to the development of the Big Bang theory of its origins. How single-point origin and expansion led cosmologists to theorize new components of the universe, such as inflation, dark matter, and dark energy. But does inflation explain the structure of today's universe? Does dark matter actually exist? Could a scientific revolution that will challenge the long-held scientific orthodoxy and once again transform our understanding of the universe be on the way? In an exciting and engaging style, Calculating the Cosmos is a mathematical quest through the intricate realms of astronomy and cosmology.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Basic Books
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Published on
Oct 25, 2016
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Pages
360
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ISBN
9780465096114
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Language
English
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Genres
Mathematics / Essays
Science / Astronomy
Science / Physics / Astrophysics
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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Distance determination is an essential technique in astronomy, and is briefly covered in most textbooks on astrophysics and cosmology. It is rarely covered as a coherent topic in its own right. When it is discussed the approach is frequently very dry, splitting the teaching into, for example, stars, galaxies and cosmologies, and as a consequence, books lack depth and are rarely comprehensive.

Adopting a unique and engaging approach to the subject An Introduction to distance Measurement in Astronomy will take the reader on a journey from the solar neighbourhood to the edge of the Universe, discussing the range of distance measurements methods on the way.  The book will focus on the physical processes discussing properties that underlie each method, rather than just presenting a collection of techniques.

As well as providing the most compressive account of distance measurements to date, the book will use the common theme of distance measurement to impart basic concepts relevant to a wide variety of areas in astronomy/astrophysics.

The book will provide an updated account of the progress made in a large number of subfields in astrophysics, leading to improved distance estimates particularly focusing on the underlying physics.  Additionally it will illustrate the pitfalls in these areas and discuss the impact of the remaining uncertainties in the complete understanding of the Universes at large. As a result the book will not only provide a comprehensive study of distance measurement, but also include many recent advances in astrophysics.

Shortlisted for the 2018 Royal Society Investment Science Book Prize

A look inside the algorithms that are shaping our lives and the dilemmas they bring with them.

If you were accused of a crime, who would you rather decide your sentence—a mathematically consistent algorithm incapable of empathy or a compassionate human judge prone to bias and error? What if you want to buy a driverless car and must choose between one programmed to save as many lives as possible and another that prioritizes the lives of its own passengers? And would you agree to share your family’s full medical history if you were told that it would help researchers find a cure for cancer?

These are just some of the dilemmas that we are beginning to face as we approach the age of the algorithm, when it feels as if the machines reign supreme. Already, these lines of code are telling us what to watch, where to go, whom to date, and even whom to send to jail. But as we rely on algorithms to automate big, important decisions—in crime, justice, healthcare, transportation, and money—they raise questions about what we want our world to look like. What matters most: Helping doctors with diagnosis or preserving privacy? Protecting victims of crime or preventing innocent people being falsely accused?

Hello World takes us on a tour through the good, the bad, and the downright ugly of the algorithms that surround us on a daily basis. Mathematician Hannah Fry reveals their inner workings, showing us how algorithms are written and implemented, and demonstrates the ways in which human bias can literally be written into the code. By weaving in relatable, real world stories with accessible explanations of the underlying mathematics that power algorithms, Hello World helps us to determine their power, expose their limitations, and examine whether they really are improvement on the human systems they replace.

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