The bestselling author of Fermat’s Last Theorem and The Code Book tells the story of the brilliant minds that deciphered the mysteries of the Big Bang. A fascinating exploration of the ultimate question: how was our universe created?
Albert Einstein once said: ‘The most incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it is comprehensible.’ Simon Singh believes geniuses like Einstein are not the only people able to grasp the physics that govern the universe. We all can.
As well as explaining what the Big Bang theory actually is and why cosmologists believe it is an accurate description of the origins of the universe, this book is also the fascinating story of the scientists who fought against the established idea of an eternal and unchanging universe. Simon Singh, renowned for making difficult ideas much less daunting than they first seem, is the perfect guide for this journey.
Everybody has heard of the Big Bang Theory. But how many of us can actually claim to understand it? With characteristic clarity and a narrative peppered with anecdotes and personal histories of those who have struggled to understand creation, Simon Singh has written the story of the most important theory ever.
'Comprehensive yet eminently comprehensible … Singh explains even the most complicated ideas with subtlety, grace and wit.' Economist
'[Singh] is a gifted expositor, ready to venture to places other science popularisers don't even try to reach.' Mail on Sunday
'Singh's unerring eye for picturesque anecdotes and his capacity for simplifying complex scientific ideas is a winning formula' Sunday Telegraph
Singh presents a tightly structured history of the key players in humankind's realisation of how much space really is out there. As Singh shows, coming up with a theory of how the universe began is possibly the most creative thing of all.' Guardian
'Singh is a very gifted story teller who never misses a chance to make his subject clearer of more entertaining … Singh is also fastidious about crediting the true pioneers of science … a brilliant book.' Independent on Sunday
About the author
Simon Singh is a science journalist and TV producer. Having completed his PhD at Cambridge he worked from 1991 to 1997 at the BBC producing Tomorrow’s World and co-directing the BAFTA award-winning documentary Fermat’s Last Theorem for the Horizon series. He is the author of Fermat’s Last Theorem, which was a no 1 bestseller in Britain and translated into 22 languages. In 1999, he wrote The Code Book which was also an international bestseller and the basis for the Channel 4 series The Science of Secrecy.
It was cosmologist Fred Hoyle who coined the term "big bang" to describe the notion that the universe exploded out of nothing to kick-start space and time. Ironically, Hoyle himself espoused the steady state theory, positing that the universe is eternal and never really changes. Former BBC producer and science writer Singh (Fermat's Enigma) recounts in his inimitable down-to-earth style how the big bang theory triumphed. Readers will find here one of the best explanations available of how Cepheid stars are used to estimate the distance of other galaxies. Singh highlights some of the lesser-known figures in the development of the big bang theory, like Henrietta Leavitt, a volunteer "computer" at the Harvard College Observatory who in 1912 discovered how Cepheid stars can be used to measure galactic distances. Singh shows how the creation of the heavier elements was a major stumbling block to widespread adoption of the big bang until Hoyle (once again boosting the theory that he so fervently opposed) proved that they were created in stars' nuclear furnaces and strewn throughout the universe via supernova explosions. Readers who don't need a review of the early development of cosmology may wish that Singh had adopted a somewhat less leisurely pace. But his introductory chapters hold a lot of worthwhile material, clearly presented for the science buff and lay reader. There's no better account of the big bang theory than this. B&w photos and illus.