From physicist and science writer Morris (The Edges of Science, 1990, etc.): a nontechnical introduction to recent developments in cosmology. Morris designs his primer around ten Big Questions: When did time begin? Why do we exist?, etc. The answers touch on just about every arcane cosmological idea afloat—for example, the existence of ``shadow matter'' that can ``neither be seen nor felt'' but may fill the cosmos, or of ``virtual particles'' that emerge from nothingness for a smidgeon of existence. Morris enthusiastically affirms the Big Bang, calling recent COBE satellite results ``like seeing God's fingerprints.'' On other disputes he's less firm, content to sift the evidence on such issues as whether the universe will expand forever or collapse upon itself. Dark matter, primordial black holes, superstring theory, time's reversibility, and weak and strong anthropic principles also come under discussion, leading on occasion to dismaying predictions (``the universe will eventually become something cold and dark, with practically no sources of energy left''). Morris enjoys toying with weird ideas like time travel, but his viewpoint remains orthodox. Scientists are intrepid explorers who ``have a habit of questioning everything''—no hint here of science as a culturally based activity; as for relations between science and religion, the dicey question that Morris tackles last, his conclusion dashes hopes of dÇtente: ``The latest discoveries have not brought science and religion closer together, and they are not likely to do so.'' Okay science popularizing—but nearly indistinguishable from dozens of other books on the subject.
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