Reviews elsewhere on the web:
Margaret Burbidge
Phillip Manning
American Scientific Affiliation
C. V. Subramaniam

John Gribbin

The birth of time

The subject of The birth of time, that is the measurement of the age of the universe, can be rather puzzling. After all, there was no-one to mark when it began, so how can we get a reasonable idea of its age. Fortunately John Gribbin is not just a renowned science writer, he has also been involved with astronomical observations addressing the question. Hence in this book he gives an excellent explanation of how our views on the age of the universe have come about, but one which requires no prior knowledge on the part of the reader.

The book starts with a look at historical opinions concerning the age of the universe. There are then chapters on how the ages and distances of stars and galaxies are deduced. We then come to the expansion of the universe, which, if projected back in time, implies some sort of beginning. We see how the age for the universe found in this way was originally less than that of the oldest stars - clearly something was wrong there. Gribbin then explains how more accurate measurements eventually resolved the problem, and the final chapter describes the part which Gribbin himself played in this research. info
Paperback 264 pages  
ISBN: 0300089147
Salesrank: 3416858
Published: 2001 Yale University Press, New Haven & London
Amazon price $27.00
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Paperback 224 pages  
ISBN: 0753809966
Salesrank: 2738351
Weight:0.49 lbs
Published: 2000 Phoenix
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Paperback 256 pages  
ISBN: 0300089147
Salesrank: 1708625
Weight:0.47 lbs
Published: 2001 Yale University Press
Amazon price CDN$ 28.69
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Product Description
The age of the universe has been one of the great scientific mysteries of our time. This engrossing book tells the story of how the mystery was recently solved. Written by a brilliant science writer who was involved, as a research astronomer, in the final breakthrough, the book provides details of the ongoing controversies among scientists as they groped their way to the truth—that the universe is between 13 and 16 billion years old, older by at least one billion years than the star systems it contains.

In clear, engaging language, Gribbin takes us through the history of cosmological discoveries, focusing in particular on the seventy years since the Big Bang model of the origin of the universe. He explains how conflicting views of the age of the universe and stars converged in the 1990s because scientists (including Gribbin) were able to use data from the Hubble Space Telescope that measured distances across the universe.