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Publisher's Summary

A groundbreaking guide to the universe and how our latest deep-space discoveries are forcing us to revisit what we know - and what we don't.

On March 21, 2013, the European Space Agency released a map of the afterglow of the big bang. Taking in 440 sextillion kilometers of space and 13.8 billion years of time, it is physically impossible to make a better map: We will never see the early universe in more detail. On the one hand, such a view is the apotheosis of modern cosmology; on the other, it threatens to undermine almost everything we hold cosmologically sacrosanct. The map contains anomalies that challenge our understanding of the universe. It will force us to revisit what is known and what is unknown, to construct a new model of our universe.

This is the first book to address what will be an epoch-defining scientific paradigm shift. Stuart Clark will ask if Newton's famous laws of gravity need to be rewritten, if dark matter and dark energy are just celestial phantoms. Can we ever know what happened before the big bang? What's at the bottom of a black hole? Are there universes beyond our own? Does time exist? Are the once immutable laws of physics changing?

©2016 Stuart Clark, PhD (P)2016 Audible, Inc.

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Very Interesting Information - Poor Reader

Would you listen to The Unknown Universe again? Why?

Yes. There is quite a bit of science history in this book and well worth the time to listen several times to get it all straight. That is, if you can stay awake through the monotone of the reader.

Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Stephen Hoye?

Hoye reads this book like its a set of instructions for an appliance. He is literally devoid of any passion at all. You get the feeling that some newscaster is just reading one line after another that appears in front of him, glossing over parts that, if read with a little heart, would have been humorous. Instead, Hoye chooses unending monotony of voice and inflection.

12 of 12 people found this review helpful

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  • Jared
  • Prosper, TX, United States
  • 09-11-16

Engaging Update on past few years in Astrophysics

One of my favorite books is "The 4% Universe", and having devoured that and most of the other Astronomy/Astrophysics/Physics/Cosmology books available ("Quantum", The Fabric of the Cosmos, Warped Passages, The Lightness of Being, A Universe from Nothing) I've been anxious for a book that would include the past ~7 yrs experiments and the resulting evolving conjectures of scientists. This is that book, basically. My only complaints are that it at some points it tries to nod to less-technical readers (such as re-explaining the Doppler Effect, then not even presenting or using the name "Doppler Effect"), and, at 8 hrs, for being disappointingly short. I would have enjoyed deeper dives into alternative theories and some coverage of the scientists developing them.

Still, a good contribution to popular science and definitely worth the read.

34 of 37 people found this review helpful

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Great addition for cosmology lovers

I am a sucker for almost any and all physics and cosmology material so do take that into account, but I finished this book in a matter of days just because I enjoyed listening to it so much. A lot of cosmology books can seem redundant and repetitive (there are only so many high powered telescopes you know) but this book does not disappoint with fresh insights, thoughts, theories and information.

22 of 24 people found this review helpful

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  • Gillian
  • Austin, TX, United States
  • 03-09-17

Everything, Absolutely Everything!

I'm a Cosmos Boob--I look up at the sky and I don't see gases, geometry, mathematical equations, so I was a tad hesitant at scooping up "The Unknown Universe". Would it be beyond me?
I am, however, also a history buff and a sucker for the real background stories, the anecdotes. Basically, the fun stuff. This book has that and plenty more. Yes, it might be a tad "dumbed down", but I suspect only the truly knowledgeable will find that annoying. I thought it was a delight.
I especially liked that the women who worked in astronomy were given their kudos (If you want more of that, I suggest "The Glass Universe" by Dava Sobel).
Expect fun history, discussions of current problems, and some pretty intriguing concepts about the future of this wonderful universe we all reside in.
My only, only complaint (more like a whine...) is that Stephen Hoye narrates this with an anchorman's tones: sometimes the humor is lost, and this book has plenty of tongue-in-cheek, plenty of guffaws.
Still, a wonderfully engaging listen; You'll be informed, and better yet, you'll be entertained!

77 of 88 people found this review helpful

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Finally!

Would you listen to The Unknown Universe again? Why?

Yes, I already plan to. I was so enthralled that I raced through it and want to go back and see what I missed. I will probably listen to it several times.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Unknown Universe?

This was a very well presented synopsis of astronomy's forefront theories written in a way laymen can easily understand. Dr Clark explained several theories that I had been having trouble with and previoulsy hadn't found better sources of explanation, now I understand and they make much more sense to me. <br/>I was particularly delighted to see that there is at least one leading edge scientist who questions the validity of "dark matter" and "dark energy". I have always balked over accepting these. We might as well go back to believing in the "ether". I hope others on the forefront are listening to what he has to say and acting on it.

Have you listened to any of Stephen Hoye’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

No I haven't as far as I know. but I think he did an excellent job, the only reason I didn't give him 5 stars was his mispronunciation of a few words. I particularly remember "Magellanic" considering the source word he should have gotten that one right.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Absolutely! I wish there were many more just like it.

Any additional comments?

I love listening to books in all areas of science. I have tried to keep up with the current discoveries so I wasn't sure if there would be any new info or if it would just be presented from Dr Clark's POV. I was pleasantly surprised by the unexpected additional info he presented.

39 of 45 people found this review helpful

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  • Gary
  • Las Cruces, NM, United States
  • 05-23-17

Best science book of the year!!!!

This is the best science book I've ever read. The author is really good at explaining the complex, but that's not the only reason I loved this book. He does something that I haven't yet seen anyone else do so far. He knows how to talk about the holes that are in science but doesn't tear apart the science that allows us to see the holes in the first place, no mean task.

He'll make the statement that black holes mean that there are holes in the universe and that there are holes in our understanding of the universe because the mathematics breakdown there. The currently agreed upon consensus understanding of how really smart people understand the universe may not always be the correct way of seeing the world. Dark Matter, Dark Energy are place holders (as Neil deGrasse Tyson says they can just as easily be called Fred and Barney for all we know), and as the current debate raging in the latest "Scientific American" on Inflation Theory being a real scientific theory or being an amorphous blob there are good arguments for both perspectives. This book is written so that anyone can understand what the issues are and why they matter and what are some of the reasonable alternatives even if they might sound goofy.

The author is good at what he does. Observers of the universe want to know the why (the theory), and they also want to know the how (the model). Eddington (and Kepler) both built models. Newton (and Einstein) build a theory. Time to Newton is absolute to Einstein its an illusion (relative). He gets into all of these fine details, explains better than almost any one and makes me incredibly grateful to be alive now days when our understanding about the world is getting cooler and cooler every day. There is nothing more exciting than the Planck map of the universe, and for fellow geeks who can make that kind of statement this book will teach you something you didn't already know.

I really loved this book and would highly recommend it for anyone.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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An intriguing now look at modern cosmology

It's been fun, over the past few years, reading accounts of recent developments in physics, astronomy, and cosmology. The universe doesn't look the way we thought it did at the start of the 20th century. There are many galaxies, not just one. The universe is expanding. There doesn't appear to be enough matter--enough ordinary matter--to keep the galaxies together, and the rate at which the universe is expanding appears to be accelerating.

The explanations offered for these last two developments are dark matter and dark energy. In this case, "dark" merely means that we do not have the faintest idea what they really are. We can't detect them. They don't seem to interact with ordinary matter at all. Except they hold galaxies together and expand the universe...

Dark matter and dark energy are hypotheses that explain the observed facts, but so far there's no direct evidence for either. Stuart Clark discusses the problems with this, as well as the other ways in which recent observations, including a high-resolution photograph of the earliest part of the universe we can detect, have produced findings that just don't fit well at all with the current "standard model" in physics.

He thinks we're due for a paradigm shift.

Realizing Earth orbits the sun, not the other way around, was a paradigm shift. Realizing our galaxy isn't the whole universe was a paradigm shift. At some point soon, he thinks, some young scientist somewhere will look at our current standard model, and throw out a basic assumption we all currently take for granted.

His story of the history of physics, astronomy, and cosmology is lively and interesting, and he makes a compelling case for the need for a new paradigm that allows us to explain our current observations of the universe without the current multiple fudge factors needed to make our equations work.

It's a fascinating book.

I bought this audiobook.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Cosmology paradigm shift under way?

It didn't seem long ago that science was full of new answers. The field of natural philosophy becoming science introduced testable hypotheses, where theories can only be considered science if they can be tested.

The author provides an open minded approach to possibilities of new discoveries. He is almost conceding that Cosmology as we know it might undergo a revolution as the most prevailing theories are finding it hard to fit the figures or explain anything that can be tested.

Time for science on the fringe to shed dogma that has plagued generations and provide testable theories. Highly engaging and recommended book if you like to look at new scientific discoveries in historical context.

21 of 25 people found this review helpful

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  • Mark
  • Waltham, MA, United States
  • 06-05-17

Good pop science

Every couple years, I like to see what's new in cosmology, and I picked this book to do so. I found it a very enjoyable listen. The author takes us on a brief history of so many of the topics, and I like that. I also did enjoy the latest thoughts on the origin and future of the universe. I learned something new about dark energy (no spoilers here). I liked the theme of scientific model vs. scientific theory that ran throughout the book. There was a lot of planetary formation, some that I had not known. In short, I am glad that I chose this book.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Surprisingly interesting for a fiction listener

I generally only listen to sci-fi and fantasy novels. This was the daily deal on audible so I took a chance. The book is well written and understandable for one who is unfamiliar with cosmology such as myself. The way it is written and explains the stories of the brilliant individuals who have advanced the study of the cosmos had me listening at every opportunity. It has sparked an interest in me to learn more about the subjects in the book which is probably the greatest praise I can give the book.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful