BEFORE THE BIG BANG by Brian Clegg
Kirkus Star

BEFORE THE BIG BANG

The Prehistory of Our Universe

KIRKUS REVIEW

Excellent popular history of how humans understand the universe.

Primitive cultures defined it simply as the earth and the sky. Early astronomers realized some heavenly bodies were more distant, and the ancient Greeks settled on a universe that encompassed the solar system—the sun and planets. European astronomers long suspected stars were more distant, but it was William Herschel (1738–1822) who described the Milky Way. Herschel theorized that our galaxy was one of many, but it took another century for astronomers led by Edwin Hubble (1889–1953) to prove it. British science writer Clegg (Upgrade Me: Our Amazing Journey to Human 2.0, 2008, etc.) excels in recounting the struggle over our universe’s origin, which most—but not all—agree lies in a vast primeval expansion known as the Big Bang. Readers may roll their eyes as brilliant scientists propose explanations of how the Bang led to the universe we see today, only to confront new, unsettling astronomical phenomena—dark energy, dark matter—that create questions faster than they can be answered. The author emphasizes that, unlike relativity or evolution, Big Bang cosmology is not a coherent system backed by overwhelming evidence but a clumsy, ad hoc premise whose gaps are plugged with theoretical band-aids or simply left open to frustrate scientists. Clegg follows the footsteps of Carl Sagan’s Cosmos, Steven Hawking’s A Brief History of Time and Timothy Ferris’s Coming of Age in the Milky Way. He shares his predecessors’ enthusiasm, eloquence and ability to explain complex ideas but provides a bonus by covering startling developments of the past decade.

Anyone looking for an introduction to or a refresher course in cosmology need look no further.

Pub Date: Aug. 4th, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-312-38547-7
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 2009




BOOKS ON SPACE:

Nonfiction SPACE CHRONICLES by Neil DeGrasse Tyson
by Neil DeGrasse Tyson
Nonfiction EXPLORING MARS by Scott Hubbard
by Scott Hubbard
Nonfiction PACKING FOR MARS by Mary Roach
by Mary Roach
Nonfiction FIRST CONTACT by Marc Kaufman
by Marc Kaufman

MORE BY BRIAN CLEGG

NonfictionFINAL FRONTIER by Brian Clegg
by Brian Clegg
NonfictionEXTRA SENSORY by Brian Clegg
by Brian Clegg
NonfictionGRAVITY by Brian Clegg
by Brian Clegg

SIMILAR BOOKS SUGGESTED BY OUR CRITICS:

NonfictionCYCLES OF TIME by Roger Penrose
by Roger Penrose
NonfictionTHE INFINITY PUZZLE by Frank Close
by Frank Close
IndieTHE NEXT SCIENTIFIC REVOLUTION by Marc van der Erve
by Marc van der Erve