Review of Where the Universe Came From by various authors

Phillip Helbig

The Observatory, 138, 1263, 75–76 (April 2018)


This is a book review of NewScientist Instant Expert: Where the Universe Came From: How Einstein's relativity unlocks the past, present and future of the Cosmos by various authors, all of whom are reasonably well known as scientists, writers, or both. This book is one of a series, and is based on talks at the 1916 New Scientist masterclass "Relativity and Beyond" as well as articles previously published in New Scientist. The book is well written, gives a new twist on a mostly old tale, and is so well edited that it reads as if written by one author. The nine chapters cover the basics of relativity and spacetime, black holes, gravitational waves, cosmology, dark matter, dark energy, and modifications to and extensions of relativity. Those are followed by 50 ideas in five lists; most are in the `fun fact' category. One could write much longer books about each of the chapters, so condensing the material down to such a short book is a formidable task, especially if the level is the same for all topics. Surprisingly, that comes off well. General Relativity is the unifying theme, but this is not a rehash of standard textbook stuff. Recent results are incorporated seamlessly into the text, which is careful not to repeat myths (which legendary figures such as Einstein tend to attract). Somehow, there is even room for additional topics one might not expect in a book such as this: campaigns against relativity, both by otherwise serious scientists and by crackpots; backreaction; branes; Unruh radiation; MOND; other types of modified gravity; the mathematical universe. I recommend the book for beginners interested in relativistic astrophysics and for those who work in other fields who want an overview of current topics together with the necessary historical background.


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last modified on Tuesday, May 01, 2018 at 10:12:03 AM by helbig@ascameltro.multivax.de (remove animal to reply)