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Big Bang: The Origin of the Universe

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  16,190 ratings  ·  344 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)
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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
Curiosity’ is a curious thing! It’s the only quality that differentiates humans from all the other living organisms (well, at least on the surface of Earth!). Solely driven by this ‘exclusive feature’, Man has discovered the intricate design of nature and invented his way to mimic it. If one speculates enough, he will find that all our technologies are simply based on the happenings going on around us in the nature. If you are a romantic one and like to see the nature’s creation as a Grand Oper ...more
Sep 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This brilliant book by Simon Singh, first published in 2004, seeks to explain the theories that have existed since ancient times until the modern day concerning the structure, age and creation of the universe. Singh has an easygoing style of writing and having said what he wants to say he will often summarise the remarks he has made, thus making sure he has been fully understood and that the reader is keeping up to speed. Also, rather than just discuss the cold scientific facts, he brings the su ...more
Nov 22, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fact, history
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
Shivam Chaturvedi
The most incomprehensible thing about the Universe is that it is comprehensible. - Albert Einstein

The Universe has some of the most amazing things you could ever imagine. Black Holes, Neutron Stars, Supernovas, Quasars, Galaxies, and all sorts of oddities in between. And yet the most remarkable thing is this pale blue dot, an ordinary planet orbiting an ordinary star, orbiting the core of an ordinary galaxy - one of the more than 200 billion galaxies in observable universe.

Earth, from an image t
A Man Called Ove
Mar 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science-sci-fi
As some1 who both loved Carl Sagan's Cosmos (book) and Neil Tyson's rebooted "Cosmos" on Netflix, I had to read this one. The surprise was that this one is a better book - in terms of readability, in terms of coherence, in making you understand the various steps to the Big Bang theory. It was a delightful read from start to finish.
The cover says "The most amazing and important theory of science." I strongly disagree. Perhaps the author forgot that people of non-Abrahamic religions form half the
Jul 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I absolutely love this book! It’s written in a very accessible way to help the scientist and non scientist alike to understand the subject matter and was a really enjoyable read.

It first starts by laying the foundations of scientific theories and takes you on an adventure through the scientific journey of time to how the current model of the universe was arrived at. I find it amazing how the scientific method was developed and how we built on the work of others to arrive at the theories we have
Mario the lone bookwolf
Singh explains highly complex astronomical theories entertaining, vivid and memorable.

Please note that I put the original German text at the end of this review. Just if you might be interested.

A journey through the last two and a half millennia of astronomical discoveries begins in the myths and legends of various high cultures, grazes Greek astronomers and the heretical ideas of a Kepler to shift the focus ever closer to the present and the 19th and 20th centuries.
The lightness and humor with
Oct 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites, science
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
Aug 02, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: cosmology, science
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
Jul 31, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science
Excellent history of science and paradigm change.

It was not until the 6th century BCE that philosophers were free to abandon accepted mythological explanations of the universe and develop their own theories. In particular, Anaximander of Miletus and Xenophanes of Colophon started us off.

Arthur Eddington speaking about Zwicky's theory: "Light is a queer thing--queerer than we imagined twenty years ago--but I should be surprised if it is as queer as all that."

George Gamow was a Ukranian born sc
Nov 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science
This one was a really interesting read. Not only physics and astronomy but also a lot of history. Most of the "science parts" are not difficult to understand and you don't really need a background to appreciate this book, just the will to learn. The writing is particularly good, filled with interesting anecdotes and humor and Simon singh is actually a great storyteller!
Doug Anderson
Feb 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
love love this book. the history of science and the scientific method and the universe, in readable, understandable, engrossing form. simon singh is the bomb. sort of.
Ash Gawain
Nov 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Simon Singh: if only you had published your book five years earlier, I would have gone into physics instead of business admin.
While I thought Hawking’s A brief History of Time was too condensed, I really appreciated the historical dimension of Singh’s Big Bang.
A new book will have to be written when a unified theory is found to explain both quantum gravity and the general relativity. I hope Singh is still around then.

May 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science, nonfiction
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
Jan 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science
I really enjoyed this book, especially after reading Singh's work on the history and proof of Fermat's Last Theorem. Singh is the perfect lay writer of science and science history. His prose flows quickly and he selects wonderful examples that explain more obscure topics. His books, and writers like him, should be assigned reading in high schools, and even middle schools, to expose kids to the wonders of science that often come across as boring and useless in typical science classes. These types ...more
Paula Koneazny
Sep 17, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Paula Koneazny 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
Mar 28, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Dec 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science

Another epic by Simon Singh, a talented writer, and a great story-teller. The book can be undoubtedly considered as a small encyclopedia of Cosmology. The amount of information summarized over the course of hundred years in this compact book is fascinating. Likewise his previous works, the author takes a detour between subjects to explain other topics and then links it to the main story in an extraordinary way possible. No extra knowledge, besides some basic physical understanding, is required a
Apr 27, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Sahar Rachamim
Nov 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
Simon Singh sings us a song about the history of science. The title is a bit misleading: This books is not about the Big Bang Theory, but about how humans, throughout history, built our current knowledge, fact upon a fact. It tells the story of how one discovery lead to another, from ancient Greeks, through modern science, to the last eponymous theory. You don't have to know any science nor Math in order to enjoy this book: The only prerequisite is curiosity.
Jason Meadors
Mar 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Excellent explanation of the beginnings and evolution of Western science. Physics, cosmology, and other scientific disciplines are lined out and set forth in very understandable and relatable ways. Simon Singh's love of science, admiration for its pursuit, and humor at human foibles comes through in every page.

Not only is this book hugely enjoyable but hugely educational. I feel like a better, more informed person for having read it.
Radhika Shendye
Nov 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science
The book is a long (and mostly fun) 'story' about the various scientific discoveries that eventually led to the acceptance of the big bang theory. Contrary to the name of the book, the author does NOT actually go into the details of big bang or even special/general theories of relativity - it was quite disheartening. The book is meant for a wide range of audience and can at best be used as an intro to big bang.

Nevertheless, the content was good and it was a great read!
Apr 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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.
Feb 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Megan Regel
May 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An excellent history of the science leading to the acceptance of the Big Bang theory- from early Greek philosophers and Copernicus to the COBE satellite and beyond.
Daniel Fox
Oct 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Great book. A very thorough analysis of the various competing theories and why the Big Bang comes out on top.
Nov 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a great overview of not just the science of the Big Bang, but also the many people involved in studying how the universe came to be in its present state.
Bogdan Teodorescu
One of the best books on science I've ever read, and for sure one of the best existent on the Big Bang
Mar 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Human beings have always looked at the stars and wondered what is there beyond the houses, beyond the trees and mountains, beyond the sun and the moon and beyond everything else that we cannot see or understand. This quest has led many curious scientists since ages to come up with various theories on how we reached here and where we are going now. The seemingly obvious facts like earth being round, took years of sound theory and lot of convincing to be accepted by the broader group. Obviously it ...more
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Simon Lehna Singh, MBE 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 cryptography and its history),

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