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Charles Seife

Alpha and Omega

Just a few years ago dark matter and energy seemed highly speculative ideas. Hence the announcement that the percentages of normal matter, dark matter and dark energy had been found fairly precisely came as something of a surprise to me. In Alpha and Omega Charles Seife looks at the discoveries which brought this about, which he calls the third cosmological revolution. Despite the title it's really about &Lambda - the cosmological constant - and &Omega - the density of the universe, and what these mean in our view of cosmology. The book is highly readable and is aimed at a non-technical audience, but there's plenty of information on the latest (in 2003) experiments, so more knowledgeable readers are still likely to find it of interest.

The book starts with look at the history of cosmology, dealing with the first (Copernicus and Galileo) and second (Einstein) cosmological revolutions. I did think that 'in between' revolutions the thread got a bit lost, in particular describing the work in the middle of the 20th century. The bulk of the book looks at the various candidates for what makes up the dark matter and energy, including Neutrinos, WIMPS and MACHOs There are also chapters on supersymmetry and the search for gravitational waves, as well as several appendices, including one with a list of ongoing experiments related to cosmology.

Amazon.com info
Paperback 304 pages  
ISBN: 0142004464
Salesrank: 1250754
Weight:0.45 lbs
Published: 2004 Penguin Books
Amazon price $14.81
Marketplace:New from $4.24:Used from $0.10
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Amazon.co.uk info
Paperback 294 pages  
ISBN: 0142004464
Salesrank: 2277141
Weight:0.45 lbs
Published: 2004 Penguin Books
Marketplace:New from £11.24:Used from £0.57
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Amazon.ca info
Paperback 304 pages  
ISBN: 0142004464
Salesrank: 761181
Weight:0.45 lbs
Published: 2004 Penguin Books
Amazon price CDN$ 17.79
Marketplace:New from CDN$ 17.79:Used from CDN$ 0.01
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Product Description
Humankind has grappled for millennia with the fundamental questions of the origin and end of the universe--it was a focus of ancient religions and myths and of the inquiries of Aristotle, Galileo, Copernicus, Kepler, and Newton. Today we are at the brink of discoveries that should soon reveal the deepest secrets of the universe.

Alpha and Omega is a dispatch from the front lines of the cosmological revolution that is being waged at observatories and laboratories around the world-in Europe, in America, and even in Antarctica--where scientists are actually peering into both the cradle of the universe and its grave. Scientists--including galaxy hunters and microwave eavesdroppers, gravity theorists and atom smashers, all of whom are on the trail of dark matter, dark energy, and the growing inhabitants of the particle zoo-now know how the universe will end and are on the brink of understanding its beginning. Their findings will be among the greatest triumphs of science, even towering above the deciphering of the human genome.

This is the book you need to help understand the frequent front-page headlines heralding dramatic cosmological discoveries. It makes cutting-edge science both crystal clear and wonderfully exciting.