How Old is the Universe?

This could be the shortest book review ever. 
I absolutely love this book- buy it!

I'm serious. I enjoyed reading this book more than anything I have read in a long, long time. I liked everything about it.

David A. Weintraub tells the story of how we know what we know about the universe from the beginning to the end in a simple, elegant, chronological manner. By doing this, you see how each new discovery builds on the knowledge gained by the previous generation of scientists working on the fundamental questions about the universe.

Two things impressed me most. First, the way each discovery is framed in a historical context made it clear how answering each new question fit into the overall picture. It is as much a history of astronomy as it is an explanation of how we know what we know today. Because you see the story unfold in this way, and witness scientists using each new clue to solve another puzzle, the book reads like a great mystery novel. It is one of the most entertaining books you'll ever read on astronomy.

Second, the author writes about serious astrophysical concepts in a clear, honest, readable tone accessible to everyone. You don't need to be an astronomer or physicist to understand what Weintraub is explaining. For example, the 100 words or so he uses to explain black body radiation and why it is an important concept are so well written that I feel I have a better understanding of something I thought I already understood. Disntangling the Hubble constant, the Hubble equation and Hubble time is something that has never been explained as well as it is in this book. I never understood why William Herschel was so interested in double stars until I read this book. It's not a complicated subject, it's just never been presented to me in the context it is in this book. I totally get it. Thank you, David.

I had at least a half dozen epiphanies reading this book. I didn't just learn new facts or concepts, I truly understand some things better than I ever did before. 'How Old Is The Universe' is my new favorite astronomy book. I plan to read it again.


RapidEye said...

Thanks Mike - I'll put it on my XMas list tonight!!!

BTW, nice picture in the AAVSO annual post card. Did they kick you out of the shot in hopes of making it look better??? =-)

Belle said...

Thanks for the review. I might get it myself.

Mike Simonsen said...

It's an awesome book, I highly recommend it.
The Xmas AAVSO post card shot was taken while I was at home. I telecommute, and only go to Boston every other month for a week. Not only do I miss out on the picture taking, but I miss the Christmas party and other holidays usually.
It is what it is.

John Kramer said...

I'll have to pick that up! I really enjoyed his other book too "Is Pluto A Planet? A Historical Journey through the Solar System". Fascinating stuff, can't wait to pick up my copy.