In this deeply original book, science writer Anil Ananthaswamy sets out in search of the telescopes and detectors that promise to answer the biggest questions in modern cosmology. Why is the universe expanding at an ever faster rate? What is the nature of the "dark matter" that makes up almost a quarter of the universe? Why does the universe appear fine-tuned for life? Are there others besides our own?
Ananthaswamy soon finds himself at the ends of the earth in remote and sometimes dangerous places. Take the Atacama Desert in the Chilean Andes, one of the coldest, driest places on the planet, where not even a blade of grass can survive. Its spectacularly clear skies and dry atmosphere allow astronomers to gather brilliant images of galaxies billions of light-years away. Ananthaswamy takes us inside the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope on Mount Paranal, where four massive domes open to the sky each night "like dragons waking up." He also takes us deep inside an abandoned iron mine in Minnesota, where half-mile-thick rock shields physicists as they hunt for elusive dark matter particles. And to the East Antarctic Ice Sheet, where engineers are drilling 1.5 miles into the clearest ice on the planet. They're building the world's largest neutrino detector, which could finally help reconcile quantum physics with Einstein's theory of general relativity.The stories of the people who work at these and other dramatic research sites, from Lake Baikal in Siberia to the Indian Astronomical Observatory in the Himalayas to the subterranean lair of the Large Hadron Collider make for a compelling new portrait of the universe and our quest to understand it.
An atmospheric, engaging, and illuminating read, The Edge of Physics depicts science as a human process, bringing cosmology back down to earth in the most vivid terms.
©2010 Anil Ananthaswamy (P)2010 Audible, Inc.
"A meticulous, accessible update of the latest ideas and instruments that contribute to the clarification of an increasingly puzzling universe." (Kirkus Reviews)
This book is an adventure brochure of the most extreme places on Earth where scientists need to go to experiment and observe, in pursuit of the boundaries of scientific knowledge. If you're going to find the Higg's Boson or prove String Theory, that's just the way it is. So the author goes around the world, and to the poles, describing the incredible feats of engineering and harsh environments where this science is done. The author has a way with words, and his descriptions are poetic. The hard science in the book is kept to layman's terms, no equations, no complex scientific analogies. On the whole, it is a good book, I listened to the entire thing and enjoyed it. 4/5 stars only because it is more about the extreme locations where physics is being done, rather than the extreme concepts in physics itself. Great narrator.
Business Physicist and Astronomer
Having read a number of these kind of books, I can say that they span a wide range of readability and technicality. This book is very readable, accessible. And, it's just technical enough to be interesting while explaining some pretty technical subjects such as the search for WIMPs.
The stories are great and hopefully will enhance the readers respect for scientific research.
A+ A lot of fun, very interesting and educational. That's a great read in my book.
this book is less about physics and more about the machienes we have built to test all these grand quantum theories. all the theories in the world are ultimetly useless if they cannot be tested. but how do you mesure something that intreacts so weakly that it can travel through our planet and not touch anything? and if you make a detector sensitive enough to detect something so weak and small, how do you filter out all the big stuff that can throw off your readings? and how do you figure out where the stuff you discover came from? that is what this book is about. the detectors and experiments that we have built, and what they are trying to discover with all this unbelievably complex (and expensive) hardware. i pull one star for the good, but dry narration; and for wishing that there had been a little more detail here. if you think the LHC is fascinating, then this book is for you. if you don't know what the LHC is, i would reccomend this book as a good intro to the world of extreme particle physics.
This was interesting and I continued reading it even though I realized after a while that this was more of a lesson in history and geography then anything on the 'edge of physics'. I'll read the description a little more closely next time. For what it is, this is a good book. The narrator does a great job and it was an enjoyable book. I wouldn't recommend it though unless you get really jazzed by the history of science.
Anil excels in letting you feel the lives of the people and places of discovery.
The ending was disappointing. It's style and emphasis were obviously not Anil's. The editor's heavy handedness glared over Anil's in an attempt to interject the manipulated contrivance and preachiness of the 'Global Warming' cult.
Luckily, Anil's own unique, warm personal wonder and respect for the honest sweat and sacrifice of true discovery touches a reader's heart and mind.
Enjoy this book. =)
More physics. Less of the author traveling around hobnobbing, visiting, pestering, scientists.
What this book has to say about physics would take 3 hours. I did not need to know what the author had to drink, or that the local sheep have a different flavor. (cooked)
This EDGE of physics was so 3 years ago. This made the book confusing. I keep going and trying to figure out when this happened. Longer ago then when the book was published.
All this being said, Anil Ananthaswamy can write. He can write dialogue, very well in fact. His ability to write a believable dialogue is better than most novelists.
This book isn't bad it is just is not what it says it is. It is a little history, some personality study and a refutation of Einstein' s assertion that there is no special place to do physics. Apparently it is done best in the most G-d forsaken places. Oh, and ones that you can't get there from here.
Yes, it stretches me! I've really enjoyed what I've been able to understand. LOVED it when the announcement about the Higgs Boson was made regarding dark matter, and at least I had an inkling what they were talking about!!
Yes, I have already. I have shared it with my 11 year old son, just to stretch his thinking as well. It's ok to listen and not understand every word and concept!
Yes, I like the narrator!
Who knows! Don't ask me, like I said, I'm struggling with what I'm learning now (and I'm pretty smart!),
Addicted to books in all forms.
I enjoyed this book. I bought it for a road trip with my partner, he is an engineer and I am an Arts student and this appealed to us both. Although the title is the edge of physics it is less about the physics itself and much more travel writing in the pursuit of how present theories are being tested. I enjoyed the history behind the theories well as the travel, and my partner enjoyed the aspects where the author described how they are attempting to prove various theories like string theory and multiple universes.
An interesting look at the complex machines these physicist brainiacs build to observe and measure these crazy waves and particles. The author discusses the machines but also discusses the astronomy, the quantum stuff, and the overall theories on unification. I made progress in my slow investigation of this kind of material. It helped me to really begin to understand large energy machines and the dance between particles and wave and energy stuff. It amazed me when he was talking how these people are trying to catch tiny particles and using bended light to see around galaxies - it makes me realize people are way smart - there's no other animal that even begins to understand this stuff, yet humans have created machiens that measure and detect particles, waves, and phenomenon from billions of light years away and that reach beyond the sub-atomic scale - its amazing!
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