A prize-winning popular science writer uses mathematical modeling to explain the cosmos.
In Calculating the Cosmos, Ian Stewart presents an exhilarating guide to the cosmos, from our solar system to the entire universe. He describes the architecture of space and time, dark matter and dark energy, how galaxies form, why stars implode, how everything began, and how it's all going to end. He considers parallel universes, the fine-tuning of the cosmos for life, what forms extraterrestrial life might take, and the likelihood of life on Earth being snuffed out by an asteroid.
Beginning with the Babylonian integration of mathematics into the study of astronomy and cosmology, Stewart traces the evolution of our understanding of the cosmos: How Kepler's laws of planetary motion led Newton to formulate his theory of gravity. How, two centuries later, tiny irregularities in the motion of Mars inspired Einstein to devise his general theory of relativity. How, eighty years ago, the discovery that the universe is expanding led to the development of the Big Bang theory of its origins. How single-point origin and expansion led cosmologists to theorize new components of the universe, such as inflation, dark matter, and dark energy. But does inflation explain the structure of today's universe? Does dark matter actually exist? Could a scientific revolution that will challenge the long-held scientific orthodoxy and once again transform our understanding of the universe be on the way? In an exciting and engaging style, Calculating the Cosmos is a mathematical quest through the intricate realms of astronomy and cosmology.
Stewart (Professor Stewart's Incredible Numbers), emeritus professor of mathematics at the University of Warwick (U.K.), demonstrates how scientific inquiry and math go hand in hand in this accessible mathematical history of science. Each chapter revolves around a vexing cosmic concept Earth's unusually large Moon, Saturn's "ears," time stopping near a black hole, and fallibility in the Big Bang theory and the math that explains or disproves it. Telling the story of how scientists and mathematicians harness abstract mathematical relationships to figure out the real world, Stewart deftly highlights the interdependent nature of ideas. Readers see how many people taking small steps forward keep science advancing. It is easy to see why "one of the common delights of mathematical physics is that equations often seem to know more than their creators do." Stewart is sure to please math lovers, history buffs, and science enthusiasts alike by covering an array of eras, innovators, and disciplines. With virtually no equations, readers learn about complicated mathematical theory in a friendly, conversational tone; whether he's discussing "white holes," why "relativity and quantum mechanics are uneasy bedfellows," or the shape of space itself, Stewart's pages flip of their own accord. Illus.