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Before the Big Bang: The Prehistory of Our Universe

3.73  ·  Rating Details ·  232 Ratings  ·  21 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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Jan 21, 2013 Manny rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
If I had realized Before the Big Bang Theory was about the physics of astronomy (astrophysics) before I started it, I would not have started it. The very idea is daunting. However, Brian Clegg is a very accessible author. He brings hard concepts down to everyday language that can be understood by someone who does not have advanced degrees in physics or whatever. I did understand the concepts he was laying out and they even made sense. Not to say I didn't have to read some paragraphs more than on ...more
Keith Adams
Feb 20, 2010 Keith Adams rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 06, 2017 Robert rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good overview of current cosmological theories, but does not really address the question of its title.
Apr 22, 2010 Stephanie rated it liked it  ·  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
Oct 07, 2009 Terry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
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
Aug 17, 2013 Karen Floyd rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nature
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
McKinley Paul
May 06, 2015 McKinley Paul rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 31, 2015 Matt rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first half of the book is a solid account of the history of cosmology. Clegg briefly notes that in the big bang model, space and time did not exist before the big bang occurred. Therefore, there was no 'before.'

Clegg spends much of the second half of the book discussing alternatives to the widely accepted big bang theory, including a modified steady state theory, M theory, and others. This book would more accurately be described as an exploration of alternatives to the currently accepted und
Skylar lemon
This book was all about if the big bang was true or not. Brian Clegg took science, math, and history and mashed it into this book to answer peoples questions on the word. I was that into this book at first but I started to like it when I was reading things I learned in science class. Such as Hubbles law. I didn't read this book because i Believe in the Big Bang, because i dont believe in that. But because I love science. That is probably the only reason I liked this book. ...more
Feb 23, 2013 Saman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: physics
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.
Brendan Chard
A relatively (pun intended) non-technical look at various theories about the origins of our universe. Some of the theories discussed are difficult to wrap your mind around, but if you have an interest in cosmology it is definitely a good read.
William Lubold
Nov 18, 2010 William Lubold rated it liked it
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.
Aug 31, 2012 Erin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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.
Daniel DeLappe
May 30, 2010 Daniel DeLappe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Michael Moats
Mar 30, 2014 Michael Moats rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
Fascinating! Well written and researched. Explores many alternative explanations for what we observe. The best answer, unfortunately, is still we just don't know.
Martin Grayson
A little repetitive, and a little simplistic, although a decent overview of the current state of cosmology.
Krzysztof rated it it was ok
Jul 21, 2014
Bob Ralston
Bob Ralston rated it really liked it
Oct 11, 2012
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Sep 02, 2015
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Greg J. rated it it was ok
Oct 05, 2014
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Chad Carlock rated it liked it
Apr 12, 2013
Praveenkumar rated it it was amazing
Jan 19, 2016
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May 19, 2012
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Jun 09, 2016
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Shimaa Samy rated it it was amazing
Oct 28, 2015
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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  
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  • In Search of the Big Bang
  • The Dreams That Stuff Is Made Of: The Most Astounding Papers of Quantum Physics--and How They Shook the Scientific World
  • The Physics Book: From the Big Bang to Quantum Resurrection, 250 Milestones in the History of Physics
  • Present at the Creation: The Story of CERN and the Large Hadron Collider
  • Three Roads To Quantum Gravity
  • The Origins of Life: From the Birth of Life to the Origin of Language
  • Universe: The Definitive Visual Guide
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Brian's latest books, Ten Billion Tomorrows and How Many Moons does the Earth Have are now available to pre-order. He has written a range of other science titles, including the bestselling Inflight Science, The God Effect, Before the Big Bang, A Brief History of Infinity, Build Your Own Time Machine and Dice World.

Along with appearances at the Royal Institution in London he has spoken at venues fr
More about Brian Clegg...

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