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The Extravagant Universe: Exploding Stars, Dark Energy, and the Accelerating Cosmos
The Extravagant Universe tells the story of a remarkable adventure of scientific discovery. One of the world's leading astronomers, Robert Kirshner, takes readers inside a lively research team on the quest that led them to an extraordinary cosmological discovery: the expansion of the universe is accelerating under the influence of a dark energy that makes space itself expa ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published April 5th 2004 by Princeton University Press
(first published September 1st 2002)
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This was a fascinating account of the search for the cosmological constant that had confounded Einstein and that determines the ultimate fate of the universe as told by someone who had an integral part in the process. Although the author is a well known, published astronomer and a Harvard professor, the prose is easy to follow and unfolds like a great detective story. This reader found it to be a real page turner as each new bit of data and each observation added a little more to understanding h ...more
Krishner reminds me of my much-detested lab reports that contain about 10 pages of first-rate data and graphs that look like entangled spaghetti and 10 lines of extremely theoretically rigorous analysis. And like human beings who love to think they’re the center of the universe, Krishner loves to think he’s the center of this book. One way or another, he’d wander off track and start rambling about himself or his group. I don’t care how you got there, i don’t care you went to observatory A to see ...more
A look at the frontiers of observational cosmology—determining the age, shape, and fate of the universe by studying the light from extremely distant objects—by one of the leading astronomers in the field. The writing is succinct and often clever and can appeal both to those knowledgeable in astronomy and those with a more minimal science background. The second half of the book recounts the steps leading up to one of the most amazing discoveries of the 20th century: that the expansion of the univ ...more
Kirschner is engaging and funny, making the subject come alive, much funnier than hawking, for example. Sadly the second half of the book seems terribly dragged out and needlessly lists the name if everyone who so much as smiled at the projects described, and the climactic discoveries were thereby dulled.
Came across this book in recent NYT oped piece by Kirshner, "The Universe, Dark Energy and Us," that provides good thumbnail sketch of this discovery. K. readily concedes we really don't know how to fully explain what he describes as such "mysterious" forces, and therefore need more funding for scientific research. Despite the overtly monetary purpose of piece (though he withholds it til very end), I was impressed with K's humility and ability to summarize complex idea in quick strokes with luci ...more
Not really entertaining or informative enough to be a full novel. Could have been stripped down a bit and cut in half and would have been much more rewarding for me. Interesting insight into how we measure time,distance and age on a universal scale though.
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