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Wrinkles in Time

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  1,043 ratings  ·  36 reviews
In April 1992, a discovery was made that changed the way we view the world. Dr. George Smoot, distinguished cosmologist and adventurer, whose quest for cosmic knowledge had taken him from the Brazilian rain forest to the South Pole unveiled his momentous discovery, bringing to light the very nature of the universe. For anyone who has ever looked up at the night sky and won ...more
Paperback, 360 pages
Published October 1st 1994 by Harper Perennial (first published 1994)
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Sep 25, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who want to know how science really works
I am warned that I should take this book with a pinch of salt, since Smoot may not be telling us the whole truth and nothing but the truth. But dammit, I want to believe him. This is what science should be like: go out and look for the data, no matter what it costs you. At several points, you just can't help comparing him with Indiana Jones.

Smoot started off in the early 70s as a particle physicist, where the norm was already for people to work together in big teams. But he was ambitious, and th
Nick Black
Nov 23, 2008 rated it it was ok
This was a good introduction to the pop aspects of quantum fluctuation, COBE's confirmation of quadrapolar background radiation following Penzias-and-Wilson's discovery of the isotropic 2.725K CMBR (as immortalized on the back of an XKCD shirt I bought the day of release -- the front reads: "SCIENCE: IT WORKS, BITCHES". Huzzah! Popular garb down at the Institute of Technology), and the exciting cosmological research of the late twentieth century. On the con side: Smoot is a ruthless self-propaga ...more
Philip Mills
Mar 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I found this book well written and provocative. The author's description of time and its lack of smoothitude (a word I just made up) has occupied my thoughts a great deal since I read the book. It's the sort of book that, and this is the best compliment I can give, made me want to have lunch with the author.
Jan 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I really enjoyed this book. First, I have a story of how I found this book-I love these kinds of stories. We love the Big Bang Theory sit com on CBS. We find the writing to exceptional, the characters endearing and the situations hysterical. I also love that they really work hard to make the science authentic by having a scientific consultant. They also have very impressive cameo appearances by well-know members of the scientific community. In one episode, our beloved characters are on a train o ...more
G.R. Reader
Almost everything in this book is true. My lawyer strongly suggests I should leave it at that.
Last Ranger
Jan 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Taming the Cosmic Zoo:

Written primarily for the layman reader, "Wrinkles in Time" nevertheless attracted a lot of attention from the academic world as well. The authors, Nobel Laureate George Smoot and award-winning journalist Keay Davidson, chronicle a paradigm changing discovery in Cosmology; the texture of the early universe. Part personal memoir and part science-history, Smoot shares his thoughts and insights on the efforts to solve the cosmic mystery of the Big Bang and why the Universe is
Jul 12, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Non-scientist science fans
Recommended to Keith by: Paul Davies
I finally got around to reading this because it was referenced in About Time . This was not nearly so well written, but it was an interesting companion read nonetheless.

Both book cover some of the same background, bringing the reader up to speed on certain necessary concepts and the history of astronomy and cosmology. The focus here is a bit more narrow, however, as well it should be since the author is dealing with the story of his own contributions to the science, rather than providing an ove
Spoiler Alert: COBE totally gives viable evidence of inflationary theory!

This book is an accounting of science as it ought to be done. George Smoot was the project head of the Cosmic Background Explorer satellite that in the early nineties mapped the radiation discovered by Penzias and Wilson in 1964. COBE's discovery of "Wrinkles" in this radiation gives a beautiful picture of what the universe must have looked like only 300,000 years after the Big Bang.

So yes, dramatic evidence of a cosmologi
Feb 16, 2009 rated it liked it
As someone who is interested in cosmology and astronomy, I found this book to be very interesting. Smoot does a very good job of explaining the history of cosmology and the background to COBE, his satellite to study the cosmic microwave background radiation. He also adds a little bit of personal experiences to lighten the tone - so it's not ALL science-speak. And then he rounds it off by talking about the experiment and its findings. The book is not very difficult to read, like some science book ...more
Ishmael Seaward
Oct 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Loved it, but then I'm a nerdy geek, or maybe a geeky nerd. I thought it was a good, straight-forward read on what was known when, and then what was done to add to the knowledge base. The end result is that the cosmic background radiation, once thought to be uniform, is not really uniform, but patchy. And the patches are where the galaxies were formed, which leads to the present day non-uniformity of the distribution of galaxies.
Jan Graf von der Pahlen
Aug 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
An incredible read: Talking about the discovery and investigation of the cosmic microwave background and the resulting consequences to the physics community would have been fascinating enough. Yet the author actually gives a concise and understandable introduction to cosmology and astronomy with many useful illustrations, making this a truly enjoyable read for a student of physics.
Jul 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
This was my first book about cosmology / astrophysics. Smoot (and friends) tell the full story of the COBE experiments and data, and explain the consequences of the data very clearly.
Peter Timson
I have a Little, Brown & Co edition from 1993 in hardback. Very interesting but heavy going. Not one to give up, it took me ages to complete.
The first part of this book was a slog: Smoot made the history of Cosmology as dry and dull as he possibly could. However, once the story switched to his personal search for the structure in the microwave background it picked up. I was an undergraduate when the COBE results came out in 1992 and I remember how excited people were around the JHU Physics & Astronomy Department. I didn't fully appreciate what these observations meant at the time - but it certainly made it feel exciting to be bec ...more
Erik Graff
Jul 17, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: cosmology fans
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: sciences
This is a book on physical cosmology intended for the general public. After the briefest of introductions to the field the issue at hand resolves to defending the big bang theory by accounting for the formation of structured matter (galaxies, nebulae and the like) in the cosmos. The portion of this work done by Smoot and colleagues is detailed.

In fact, much of this book would not be readily accessible to the general public. Personally, I found much of it dull and obscure, though I did appreciate
It was a lot more interesting than I thought it would be. Basically you get the story of how an important discovery was made - what the scientists had to do to get answers to the problems they were trying to solve and how they had a lot of interesting adventures in the mean time from Brazilian jungles to the South Pole.

A certain thing to take away from reading this book - doing scientific experiments on high altitude balloons is a nerve-wrecking business.
Oct 14, 2013 rated it liked it
When I was younger and was interested in this topic (and more up on my chemistry and physics) I would have enjoyed this book more. Dr. Smoot mentioned that he had to pared down the manuscript from 600 pages and lost a lot of personal dynamics...I may have been more interested in that manuscript.

If you are physics, cosmology, or astrology will find this book very rewarding!
Michael Schulz
Mar 19, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
Very good science book, not too deep in the science, but he explains the important points very well. Interesting look at the search for "wrinkles" in the cosmic background radiation. Good mix of science and human adventure. I picked this to read after seeing George Smoot on the "Big Bang Theory" TV show. (He'll never be a good actor!)
Andrew Rothschild
Sep 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
Loved the book. Clearly the title plays on Hawkings A Brief History but the subject matter is very different, dealing with the origins of space and time and the adventure that the author and his team embarked upon attempting to discover why the universe is not just comprised of dust. For the curious mind with a bent for science, a must read.
Rian Nejar
May 26, 2015 rated it liked it
A descriptive, well-written book about the history of advancement of our understanding of cosmic phenomena. Nevertheless, the mix of travel, ballooning, and budget adventures with historical and contemporary scientific advancements bewilders the serious and the lay reader alike.

Did the author really need his formally attired persona on the front cover?
Bill H
Aug 15, 2011 rated it really liked it
An interesting memoir covering the more practical side of cosmology, so to speak -- the nuts and bolts of actually carrying out cutting-edge experimentation. And yes, I'll happily admit I found this book thanks to Sheldon Cooper:
Feb 18, 2012 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
I registered a book at!
Jun 25, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
All you ever wanted to know about cosmic microwave background radiation.
May 12, 2010 rated it really liked it
this is one of the first popular science books I read -- I think it was an xmas gift from big brother.
Phil Lawless
Jan 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
The first part is a standard expositon of the Big Bang. The last and best part is the development, deployment, and analysis of the COBE satellite that confrimed a major aspect of the Big Bang.
Raul Carpio
Aug 01, 2013 rated it liked it
Buena información pero un libro no tan agradable de leer.
Þessi bók var á einhverjum lista um þær hundrað bækur sem ætti að lesa:) Virkilega skemmtileg barnabók og ótrúlegt að ekki sé búið að þýða hana.
Matt Brindley
Apr 28, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
Good account of the Smoot et al. work on experimental measurement and interpretation of the CMB.
Apr 07, 2007 rated it really liked it
a little heavy at times, but still pretty easy to follow along without a science degree in anything.
Jan 24, 2010 rated it it was ok
It is interesting, but it gets me tired. So I read a little and leave it alone, and them pick it again...
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George Fitzgerald Smoot III is an American astrophysicist, cosmologist, Nobel laureate, and $1 million TV quiz show prize winner (Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader?). He won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2006 for his work on the Cosmic Background Explorer with John C. Mather that led to the "discovery of the black body form and anisotropy of the cosmic microwave background radiation."

This work hel
“I recall the eerie pleasure of getting a copy of the U-2 Users' Manual.” 1 likes
“The more we know of the history of the universe, the more we know about ourselves.” 0 likes
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