Alpha and Omega

Alpha and Omega

The Search for the Beginning and End of the Universe

Additional Formats
  • Ebook
  • ISBN 9781101221488
  • 304 Pages
  • Penguin Books
  • Adult


Humankind has grappled for millennia with the fundamental questions of the origin and end of the universe–it was a focus of ancient religions and myths and of the inquiries of Aristotle, Galileo, Copernicus, Kepler, and Newton. Today we are at the brink of discoveries that should soon reveal the deepest secrets of the universe.

Alpha and Omega is a dispatch from the front lines of the cosmological revolution that is being waged at observatories and laboratories around the world-in Europe, in America, and even in Antarctica–where scientists are actually peering into both the cradle of the universe and its grave. Scientists–including galaxy hunters and microwave eavesdroppers, gravity theorists and atom smashers, all of whom are on the trail of dark matter, dark energy, and the growing inhabitants of the particle zoo-now know how the universe will end and are on the brink of understanding its beginning. Their findings will be among the greatest triumphs of science, even towering above the deciphering of the human genome.

This is the book you need to help understand the frequent front-page headlines heralding dramatic cosmological discoveries. It makes cutting-edge science both crystal clear and wonderfully exciting.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Preface vii

Chapter 1: The First Cosmology[The Golden Age of the Gods] 1

Chapter 2: The First Cosmological Revolution[The Copernican Theory] 10

Chapter 3: The Second Cosmological Revolution[Hubble and the Big Bang] 25

Chapter 4: The Third Revolution Begins[The Universe Amok] 49

Chapter 5: The Music of the Spheres[The Cosmic Microwave Background] 63

Chapter 6: The Dark Universe[What’s the Matter with Matter?] 90

Chapter 7: Darker Still[The Enigma of Exotic Dark Matter] 103

Chapter 8: The Big Bang in Our Backyard[The Birth of Baryons] 116

Chapter 9: The Good Nus[The Exotic Neutrino] 132

Chapter 10: Supersymmetry[Fearlessly Framing the Laws of Matter] 150

Chapter 11: Seeing the Invisible[MACHOs, WIMPs, and Illuminating the Darkest Regions of the Universe] 163

Chapter 12: The Deepest Mystery in Physics[&Lambda, the Vacuum, and Inflation] 182

Chapter 13: Wrinkles in Spacetime[Gravitational Waves and the Early Universe] 199

Chapter 14: Beyond the Third Revolution[Voyage to the Ends of Time] 215

Appendix A: Tired Light Retired 225

Appendix B: Where Does Matter Come From? 229

Appendix C: Nobel Prizes in Physics–Past and Future 235

Appendix D: Some Experiments to Watch 241

Glossary 249

Select Bibliography 269

Acknowledgements 277

Index 279

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