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Before the Big Bang: The Prehistory of Our Universe

3.61 of 5 stars 3.61  ·  rating details  ·  155 ratings  ·  17 reviews
According to a recent survey, the most popular question about science from the general public was: what came before the Big Bang? We all know on some level what the Big Bang is, but we don't know how it became the accepted theory, or how we might know what came before. In Before the Big Bang, Brian Clegg (the critically acclaimed author of Upgrade Me and The God Effect) ex ...more
ebook, 320 pages
Published August 4th 2009 by St. Martin's Press (first published August 29th 2006)
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I have read a fair number of books on cosmology and related subjects over the last couple of years, but I'm afraid to say that this was easily one of the worst ones. The author's main goal seems to be to approach the current mainstream theory - Big Bang with inflation - in a critical way, and suggest alternatives; the one he likes most is Steinhardt and Turok's ekpyrotic model, in which our universe collides with a parallel "brane-world" every trillion years or so, giving a cyclic universe where ...more
Keith Adams
This book made me realize I'm the center of the Universe. And not just my "own little" one either, but the real thing. The Big Bang started right here.

Don't worry. You are also the center of the Universe, apparently.

I've long been completely fascinated by cosmology, the study of the fabric and origins of the universe, and consume several books on the subject every year. You're often reading, in these books, the same subject matter. Yet each writer brings in a slightly different slant which, all
Jeffrey Dannaldson
A very interesting look at the current state of cosmological theory. One thing I really like about this book is that the author is not afraid to challenge the inflationary Big Bang model. It does seem rather a kluge. String theory and M-theory get scrutinized as possibly unscientific as well, since they may be untestable. They also predict many different kinds of universes, not just the one we live in.

Even far out ideas such as the universe as simulation or hologram get a fair treatment here. I
May 06, 2010 Stephanie rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Science Nerds
Frankly, this book alternately thrilled me and made me want to throw it against the wall. I’m pretty sure my husband is glad I’m finally done reading it because I’ll stop ranting at him about things I read in this book.

A few highlights:

Author Brian Clegg: “Science has no remit to comment on religion, nor should religion attempt to shape science...” (p. 5)
Me: Yes! I’ll spare you the details, but this is one of my favorite things to rant about.

Clegg: “[Science:] can never truly prove something” (p
Normally books of this type spend a profound amount of time on history of failed ideas sometimes taking up three quarters of the body. This gives such piffle maybe a dozen pages and only to the extent that it is necessary to say who the first person to thought of the notion of non-time or the size of the universe. The heft of the text is going over our best guesses of the origin of the universe and attacking the hegemony of the big bang. The author recognizes the efficacy, predictive power, and ...more
Karen Floyd
Written in 2009, this book attempts to cover what were then the current theories on how our universe began and what makes it work. The huge distances of space and the smallness of the smallest particle are boggling enough to the human mind, let alone trying to grasp the nuances of what may have started everything and why, or if there was any beginning at all. I found this book fascinating, intriguing, and amusing, though often hard to understand, especially when he started talking about math. (O ...more
Jan Stanton
Interesting book but still leaves the question unanswered. Will the question ever be answered?
Stefan Riphaus
Ein Muss für Fans von Hawking
This book shows how science has altered our view of cosmos and its origin over the past two and a half millenia. It covers all the theories there have been and are.
The author has some biases for the String theory (or rather, String theories). I am not a fan of String theory, but the universe does not care what we like. String theory might be right after all! So, I do not see it as a minus point, but rather as a scientific view from a physicist.
Michael Moats
Fascinating! Well written and researched. Explores many alternative explanations for what we observe. The best answer, unfortunately, is still we just don't know.
William Lubold
Pop science, (reasonably) easy to understand. It makes sense of the competing theories on the origin of the universe, and makes some unexpected connections. Of course, it raises more questions than it answers, but there you go.
Amy Wilks
This is deep stuff! It is taking me forever to read it. I am not even halfway through, and the book had to be returned so I'll have to finish it later. Interesting, but not a quick or easy read.
Gripping, intense, powerful, and mind-blowing. I only had time to read about half of it, but even one chapter helps open your mind and open your eyes.
Daniel DeLappe
Great book. Covered subject so someone like me (a math idiot) could understand the book. If you are just getting into astronomy this is a good place to start.
Martin Grayson
A little repetitive, and a little simplistic, although a decent overview of the current state of cosmology.
Steven Dunn
Interesting, but cliche in a lot of ways.
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On The subject Of this Book... 1 6 Feb 03, 2010 09:01AM  
Cosmic Evolution Simplified 1 4 Feb 03, 2010 08:45AM  
  • Endless Universe: Beyond the Big Bang
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  • The Book of Universes
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  • Cycles of Time: An Extraordinary New View of the Universe
  • The Inflationary Universe: The Quest for a New Theory of Cosmic Origins
  • The Physics Book: From the Big Bang to Quantum Resurrection, 250 Milestones in the History of Physics
  • In Search of the Multiverse
  • The Eerie Silence: Renewing Our Search for Alien Intelligence
  • Einstein's Telescope: The Hunt for Dark Matter and Dark Energy in the Universe
  • Bang!: The Complete History of the Universe
  • Three Roads To Quantum Gravity
  • Cosmos
  • Present at the Creation: The Story of CERN and the Large Hadron Collider
  • Not Even Wrong: The Failure of String Theory and the Search for Unity in Physical Law
  • Four Laws That Drive the Universe
  • The Vision Revolution: How the Latest Research Overturns Everything We Thought We Knew About Human Vision
  • Universe: The Definitive Visual Guide
Brian Clegg has a degree in natural sciences from Cambridge and a masters in Operational Research. He spent seventeen years with British Airways, where he formed a new department tasked with developing hi-tech solutions for the airline, and now speaks throughout the world on business and science-related topics.

He is the author of several popular science titles, including Inflight Science, The God
More about Brian Clegg...
A Brief History of Infinity: The Quest to Think the Unthinkable Inflight Science: A Guide to the World From Your Airplane Window The God Effect: Quantum Entanglement, Science's Strangest Phenomenon The Universe Inside You: The Extreme Science of the Human Body From Quantum Theory to the Mysteries of the Brain How to Build a Time Machine: The Real Science of Time Travel

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