Big Bang: The Origin of the Universe
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

Big Bang: The Origin of the Universe

4.12 of 5 stars 4.12  ·  rating details  ·  6,777 ratings  ·  192 reviews
A half century ago, a shocking Washington Post headline claimed that the world began in five cataclysmic minutes rather than having existed for all time; a skeptical scientist dubbed the maverick theory the Big Bang. In this amazingly comprehensible history of the universe, Simon Singh decodes the mystery behind the Big Bang theory, lading us through the development of one...more
Paperback, 560 pages
Published November 1st 2005 by Harper Perennial (first published January 1st 2004)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill BrysonA Brief History of Time by Stephen HawkingCosmos by Carl SaganThe Selfish Gene by Richard DawkinsGuns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond
Best Science Books - Non-Fiction Only
77th out of 686 books — 1,724 voters
A Brief History of Time by Stephen HawkingThe Elegant Universe by Brian GreeneCosmos by Carl SaganThe Fabric of the Cosmos by Brian GreeneThe Universe in a Nutshell by Stephen Hawking
32nd out of 66 books — 76 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
An unbeatable offer: two reviews for the price of one! If you aren't interested in dull hairsplitting, scroll directly to the Infotainment Review below. But first, I'm afraid I must tediously present my

Scholarly review (fact-checked)

I'm conflicted about this book. There's plenty to love. As far as I can tell, Singh gets all the science right, and the fact that it's stuffed with entertaining stories about the historical characters involved makes it a fun read. I finished it in a couple of days. B...more
Full of fascinating historical anecdotes and character sketches, "Big Bang" was fun as well as informative from start to finish. I struggle with physics books because my mind often has trouble grasping concepts at different scales from our own, but Singh writes and explains so well that I was not just able to understand but was able to teach it to my kids afterward! I now look at the skies differently as a result of reading this book, and my knowledge of the history of physics is a lot richer. S...more
Maria Fuentes
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 25, 2009 Paula rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Paula by: Michio Kaku program on KPFA
Shelves: non-fiction, science
I'm a sucker for readable tomes explicating theoretical physics/ cosmology for the non-mathematically trained and feel compelled to pump up my puny understanding of the field every now and then. Singh kept me engaged almost all the way through The Big Bang(the book slacks off a bit toward the end)as he ran through the history of the science leading up to and encompassing the acceptance of The Big Bang theory as the most accurate description we now have of the origin and evolution of the universe...more
Simon Singh is a marvellously engaging non-fiction writer. Only straying from his central subject to relay a surprising or eyebrow-raising anecdote, he manages to paint a human face on the history of our perception of the universe.

In telling the story of the Big Bang theory, the book takes you through miniature biographies and descriptions of the impact of the life-work of Galileo, Copernicus, Kepler, Hubble and many others who strove and discovered gems of cosmological truth through history. Th...more
My wondering thrust me to a world of infinity. Confusion reached its nadir and I gasped to know it all. Remembering 'Don't Panic', I started to organize my thoughts. I gathered the first step towards solving any of my bewilderment would be to understand the theories of how it all began - the universe, the time, the life. I turned to Stephan Hawking's widely unread bestseller 'A Brief History of Time'. Though it answered some of my questions, in turn posed many more than before. I realized that t...more
Tanja Berg
This translates to a short history of the cosmos. A complex theory like that of big bang builds on a lot of knowledge, so the author begins with the ancient greeks and move forward from there. The book is written with humour, insight into human nature and endless fascination about the universe. There is enthusiasm in every sentence. However, the book ends with the final proof that there really was an explosive start to the universe, which somehow feels a bit anti-climatic. "Wasn't there more?" O...more
fascinating, entertaining and thrilling but leaves me with the agonising and terrifying question of "if the universe is expanding what is it expanding into?"

great book though, thoroughly recommended
I've been a fan of Simon Singh since I read "Fermat's Enigma", and this book was another great one. It's not just about the Big Bang theory, but about the whole history of cosmology, starting with the-earth-is-flat-and-at-the-center-of-the-universe beliefs, up until the present-day understanding of things. He pulls in lots and lots of interesting characters, both well-known (Galileo and Einstein) and less well-known, all of whom are worthy of attention. Singh has a real gift for turning science...more
This book does a good job presenting the evolution of cosmology, from ancient geocentric theories, to the most recent CMB radiation detection experiments. The author seems to be well documented not only about the historical discoveries in this field, but also about the personal lives of the famous people who contributed to the knowledge we have today about the Universe, its origins and its future.

Some stuff is obsessively repeated, so there are moments when this book gets a little bit boring and...more
Great book. The book describes the history of our understanding of the origin of the universe. Fascinating stories. Shows very clearly the evidence of the big bang. Also the scientific process is well-described in this book.

I was a little bit disappointed that the book stopped when the Big Bang was recognised by the scientific community, so recent developments were not explained.
Thomas Holder
Big Bang offers a wealth of pub quiz knowledge combined with the sort of knowledge that makes some peoples brains ache. The history, of the big bang or rather, the history of the study of the big bang is a truly fascinating. Elements of it's study date back to centuries ago with the likes of Gallileo and his telescopes first mapping the night sky. Singh, delivers a comprehensive review of the big bang and goes into some pretty meaty science along the way, we learn about important physicists and...more
This was a pretty decent pop-sci exploration of cosmology. Having a PhD in cosmology myself, I think I am qualified to say that the science was done pretty well. And the descriptions of the history of the science was also interesting. I was a little bored in parts, but maybe that's because I already knew most of it. Pop sci books are hit or miss for me and sometimes I can't get through even the well-received ones (for instance, Brian Green's books). This one I pushed through (though partly becau...more
Ed Holden
This is possibly the best science book I've ever read. Far from being about the Big Bang specifically, and without asking the reader to take any of the case for this amazing theory for granted, Singh takes his usual knack for explaining complex concepts to the layperson and tunes it up to eleven, effectively building the case for the Big Bang from first principles. We start with Ptolemy and the Greeks, move into the Middle Ages and Renaissance, and so on, and along the way we put together the wh...more
This book is not so much an explanation of the Big Bang itself as a historical event - at least not directly. But the truth of the matter isn't so simple as to allow that anyway. Not all questions have yet been answered, the context isn't fully understood (it never is in science), and not everyone agrees even on the basics (Fred Hoyle, the astronomer who went to his grave as the most prominent critic of the Big Bang despite having inadvertently named it, has been dead for less than a decade). A...more
Katie P
Feb 29, 2012 Katie P rated it 5 of 5 stars Recommends it for: people interested in physics and cosmology for beginners
Shelves: non-fiction
I loved this book because it appealed to my science nerdiness and my history nerdiness.

You can actually get a decent way through this book without much mention of the Big Bang theory or even the universe as a whole as the early parts are given over to a history of human endeavour towards understanding Earth within the universe. From various creation myths to the methodolgy employed to work out that the world was round, the circumference of the planet, the distance to the moon and sun, how orbits...more
"Gripping" probably isn't a word you'd expect to hear used about a book on the historical development of the Big Bang theory - but trust me this book is thoroughly difficult to put down! A truly riveting journey from ancient Greece to the present day, Big Bang charts the great successes - and crushing disappointments - of key figures instrumental to the quest to learn more about the origin of the universe.

Singh not only knows his science inside out, he's also a fantastic storyteller, and manage...more
“If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe.” Carl Sagan

It may seem like a silly thing to say, but I like to know where I am.

Living in Solon, Ohio, I know that Lake Erie is a few miles to the north (go to the end of our street and turn left). Downtown Cleveland is about 20 miles to the northwest, Chagrin Falls just east, Chicago about a 6 hour drive west, DC about 6 hours through Pennsylvania to the east.

When I travel, I always look at a map, even if I’m n...more
Simon Singh is one of my favorite authors. He quickly rose to this rank after I read The Code Book, loved it way more than I ever expected, and afterward devoured every other book of his I could find. He has the unique ability to write nonfiction in a way that is as readable and intriguing as fiction, while simultaneously providing the complete context of the topic he has set out to explore.

What I think is so commendable about Simon Singh is that he starts wayyyyy at the beginning of the story i...more
Having enjoyed the author's documentary about Fermat's last theorem, I was prepared to enjoy this book. It did not disappoint.

Singh's background is in particle physics, which I think comes through particularly well in this book. He has an obvious deep respect for the intellects and achievements of the scientists he profiles, probably stemming in no small part from his sophisticated understanding of the problems they had to solve. Even more spectacularly, he is able to make the scientific method...more
Simon Singh has become one of my favourite science authors. He takes you on a journey not only of science but of the political landscape at the time of the discoveries, of the governments of the day interference and also the battle of personalities. That is what science is about. Its about people arguing over theories and supporting those theories with conclusive evidence. Eventually one side wins.

The Big Bang begins with the conflict of early scientists with the governmental/religious forces ar...more
This book is Singh's attempt to explain the Big Bang theory to the layman, along with a general overview of how science works. In that regard, he succeeds in both, but moreso in the second goal than the first. Although Singh's writing is clear and lucid, I think having some background in science and being familiar with concepts in astronomy and cosmology definitely help. Although he keeps the maths to a minimum, there are a few equations in the book (although you don't have to solve them!), so h...more
Wow I finally finished reading this book . At first I thought i won't be able to finish it and it will be very boring but it turn out to be that I learned a lot from it. I wished I read this book whenI was in high school so I could understand more about what the teacher was saying when talking about Big Bang and evolution but I wasn't too late to read this book. I liked the way Singh wrote it and the summaries at the end of each chapter and the glossary that I'm going to use if I need to underst...more
I had enjoyed reading Simon Singh's 'Fermat's Enigma' and 'The Code Book' immensely. So, it was no brainer to read this 532-page book on the theories relating to the origin of the Universe.
This book is a history of the Big Bang model, providing at the same time an insight into what science is and how the scientific method works. It traces the history of how an idea is created, tested, verified and finally broadly accepted. The book can be summarised as follows:
"Initially, all matter and energy w...more
In "The Big Bang," Simon Singh gives us two histories.

One is the history of western astronomical discovery beginning with the Greeks and ending with late-20th century debates about the Big Bang. The second is an illustration of Kuhn's paradigm shifts in action, complete with the assertion that new ideas don't gain traction until the conservative old fogeys die off or retire. It struck me as bizarre that so many brilliant scientists in the 20th century would keep hold of the idea of an "eternal,...more
Justin Gerhardstein
If you want to understand how the universe came into existence (is there anyone who doesn't?), read this book. Singh contextualizes the Big Bang model from the very beginning of astronomy, around 6th Century BC, and then takes us on a tour of the key discoveries, such as Einstein's special theory of relativity, that formed the basis of cosmological knowledge needed to hypothesize, and eventually solidify, the big bang model. It's a large dose of stranger-than-life non-fiction, including crazy sc...more
Bookmarks Magazine

Singh, a British physicist and author of Fermat's Enigma and The Code Book, knows how to popularize science. Big Bang, written with a nod to Carl Sagan, tells the story of the origin of the universe. It's not a new story, but one well told through philosophers and scientists who, over 2,000 years, discarded, accepted, or built on each other's theories. In essence, Big Bang reveals how science works. Critics agree that Singh's conversational style elucidates complex concepts without dumbing them

Apr 30, 2007 Adarsh rated it 4 of 5 stars Recommends it for: laymen interested in science
Shelves: science
It had been a long time since I read any science book. Big Bang by Simon Singh turned out to be such a refreshing read that I recommend it to anyone who is even mildly interested in science.

Simon Singh has the rare advantage of being both a scientist and a journalist. What impressed me most about this book is the simplicity of Singh's approach to explaining complicated concepts and theories. The book has a distinct historical perspective and story-telling narrative to it. You will not find obscu...more
Simon Singh is the kind of science writer we need. His sense of storyline and his touch for humanity bring a lot of breath to scientific thought and the wonderful reminder that scientists are human, and not just in the "not God" way, but as thinking creatures who re-evaluate themselves and adapt and sometimes get a little headstrong.

Overall, this book is a story of the scientific process and an idea that's been centuries in the making, and is not even complete yet. While conservative yahoos may...more
This is my father's favourite book, I think. It is a wonderful read. Clear and fast paced, it explains such things as how we worked out how big the universe is, how we can tell how far away stars are, how we know the universe is getting bigger and many other questions you may never have wondered about at all like what is dark matter and how do we know it must be there. Many of these questions have been answered by people who in themselves would make for wonderful books - the history of physics i...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Coming of Age in the Milky Way
  • Origins: Fourteen Billion Years of Cosmic Evolution
  • The Inflationary Universe: The Quest for a New Theory of Cosmic Origins
  • Black Holes and Time Warps: Einstein's Outrageous Legacy
  • Death from the Skies!: These Are the Ways the World Will End...
  • Just Six Numbers: The Deep Forces That Shape the Universe
  • The Book of Nothing: Vacuums, Voids, and the Latest Ideas about the Origins of the Universe
  • The First Three Minutes: A Modern View Of The Origin Of The Universe
  • Parallel Worlds: A Journey Through Creation, Higher Dimensions, and the Future of the Cosmos
  • Warped Passages: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Universe's Hidden Dimensions
  • Three Roads To Quantum Gravity
  • The Black Hole War: My Battle with Stephen Hawking to Make the World Safe for Quantum Mechanics
  • Why Evolution Is True
  • Black Holes and Baby Universes
  • E=mc²: A Biography of the World's Most Famous Equation
  • From Eternity to Here: The Quest for the Ultimate Theory of Time
  • The 4 Percent Universe: Dark Matter, Dark Energy, and the Race to Discover the Rest of Reality
  • Why Does E=mc²? (And Why Should We Care?)
Simon Lehna Singh, MBE (born 1 January 1964) is a British author who has specialised in writing about mathematical and scientific topics in an accessible manner. He is the maiden winner of the Lilavati Award.

His written works include Fermat's Last Theorem (in the United States titled Fermat's Enigma: The Epic Quest to Solve the World's Greatest Mathematical Problem), The Code Book (about cryptogra...more
More about Simon Singh...
Fermat's Enigma: The Epic Quest to Solve the World's Greatest Mathematical Problem The Code Book: The Science of Secrecy from Ancient Egypt to Quantum Cryptography Trick or Treatment: The Undeniable Facts about Alternative Medicine The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets The science of secrecy: The secret history of codes and codebreaking

Share This Book

“All that was required to measure the planet was a man with a stick and a brain. In other words, couple an intellect with some experimental apparatus and almost anything seems achievable.” 16 likes
More quotes…