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Reviews elsewhere on the web:
Susan Stepney
Baltimore City Paper
PhysicsWeb
AmericanScientist.org
Simon McLeish
Andy Hone (pdf)

Janna Levin

How the universe got its spots

The study of Cosmology needs knowledge of several areas of physics - special and general relativity and quantum theory as well as much of classical physics. This requirement can be intimidating to the beginner. Janna Levin took this into account in writing 'How the universe got its spots', which is based on a collection of letters to her mother. Hence it will be useful for those readers who would like a gentle introduction to those the ideas of modern physics required for cosmology as well as anyone wanting an insight into the life of a (perhaps not so typical) cosmologist.

In the book Levin puts forward the idea that the universe might be finite, and in particular that its topology might mean that if we travelled far enough then we would return to our starting point even if the geometry doesn't force this to be the case. Although we haven't seen any copies of ourselves in the universe, such finiteness might also show up in the cosmological microwave background radiation as certain patterns (the spots of the title of the book). The book didn't actually convince me that the universe is finite, but I felt that Levin puts the case for it in a well thought out and understandable way.

Amazon.com info
Paperback 224 pages  
ISBN: 0753813769
Salesrank: 2075057
Published: 2002 Orion Pub Co
Amazon price $27.95
Marketplace:New from $24.57:Used from $2.79
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Amazon.co.uk info
Paperback 224 pages  
ISBN: 0753813769
Salesrank: 1098440
Weight:0.44 lbs
Published: 2003 Phoenix
Marketplace:New from £34.62:Used from £0.01
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Amazon.ca info
Paperback
ISBN: 0753813769
Salesrank: 1921332
Weight:0.44 lbs
Published: 2003 Phoenix
Marketplace:New from CDN$ 40.84:Used from CDN$ 8.00
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Product Description
An original and personal quest to discover the size and shape of the universe, by an exciting new voice in popular science writing