From a star theoretical physicist, a journey into the world of particle physics and the cosmos—and a call for a more liberatory practice of science.
Winner of the 2021 Los Angeles Times Book Prize in Science & Technology
A Finalist for the 2022 PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award
A Smithsonian Magazine Best Science Book of 2021
A Symmetry Magazine Top 10 Physics Book of 2021
An Entropy Magazine Best Nonfiction Book of 2020-2021
A Publishers Weekly Best Nonfiction Book of the Year
A Kirkus Reviews Best Nonfiction Book of 2021
A Booklist Top 10 Sci-Tech Book of the Year
In The Disordered Cosmos, Dr. Chanda Prescod-Weinstein shares her love for physics, from the Standard Model of Particle Physics and what lies beyond it, to the physics of melanin in skin, to the latest theories of dark matter—along with a perspective informed by history, politics, and the wisdom of Star Trek.
One of the leading physicists of her generation, Dr. Chanda Prescod-Weinstein is also one of fewer than one hundred Black American women to earn a PhD from a department of physics. Her vision of the cosmos is vibrant, buoyantly nontraditional, and grounded in Black and queer feminist lineages.
Dr. Prescod-Weinstein urges us to recognize how science, like most fields, is rife with racism, misogyny, and other forms of oppression. She lays out a bold new approach to science and society, beginning with the belief that we all have a fundamental right to know and love the night sky. The Disordered Cosmos dreams into existence a world that allows everyone to experience and understand the wonders of the universe.
Prescod-Weinstein, a particle cosmologist, debuts with an eye-popping and innovative look into the nature of the universe and her "awakening as a Black scientist." In lucid prose, she takes readers through the "strange, fantastical" world of particle physics, describing quantum mechanics, theories such as string theory and quantum gravity, and and the axion, a hypothetical particle and a subject of her own research. Woven in is an account of Prescod-Weinstein's evolution as a scientist and a critique of the discipline's "social environment." "White empiricism," she writes, relies on inaccurate language, and she objects to the dark matter analogy in academia, which compares dark matter to Black people when in fact dark matter is invisible. She rebukes "intellectual colonialism" that dismisses Indigenous knowledge and claims to land, and pushes back against a culture she argues is rife with exploitation and sexual assault. As a remedy, she proposes an institutional restructuring ("science needs an anti-colonial code") that allows children "of every shade, gender identity, sex identity, ethnicity, sexual orientation, romantic orientation, (dis)ability, and religion" access to the night sky. In addition to her urgent critique, Prescod-Weinstein's explanation of physics remains accessible. The result is a resonant paean to the beauties of the cosmos and a persuasive appeal for solutions to injustices in science.