A concise introduction to the greatest questions of modern cosmology. What came before the big bang? How will the universe evolve into the future? Will there be a big crunch? Questions like these have no definitive answers, but there are many contending theories. In A Little Book about the Big Bang, physicist and writer Tony Rothman guides expert and uninitiated readers alike through the most compelling mysteries surrounding the nature and origin of the universe. Cosmologists are busy these days, actively researching dark energy, dark matter, and quantum gravity, all at the foundation of our understanding of space, time, and the laws governing the universe. Enlisting thoughtful analogies and a step-by-step approach, Rothman breaks down what is known and what isn’t and details the pioneering experimental techniques scientists are bringing to bear on riddles of nature at once utterly basic and stunningly complex. In Rothman’s telling, modern cosmology proves to be an intricate web of theoretical predictions confirmed by exquisitely precise observations, all of which make the theory of the big bang one of the most solid edifices ever constructed in the history of science. At the same time, Rothman is careful to distinguish established physics from speculation, and in doing so highlights current controversies and avenues of future exploration. The idea of the big bang is now almost a century old, yet with each new year comes a fresh enigma. That is scientific progress in a nutshell: every groundbreaking discovery, every creative explanation, provokes new and more fundamental questions. Rothman takes stock of what we have learned and encourages readers to ponder the mysteries to come.
About the Author
Tony Rothman has taught physics at Harvard, Princeton, and NYU. A former editor at Scientific American, he is the author of thirteen books, including Sacred Mathematics: Japanese Temple Geometry (with Fukagawa Hidetoshi) and A Physicist on Madison Avenue.