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Bookshop: Cosmology
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GENERAL LEVEL
The Elegant Universe. Briane Greene
Superstring theory has been called "a part of 21st-century physics that fell by chance into the 20th century." In other words, it isn't all worked out yet. Despite the uncertainties – "string theorists work to find approximate solutions to approximate equations" – Greene gives a tour of string theory solid enough to satisfy the scientifically literate. Though Ed Witten of the Institute for Advanced Study is in many ways the human hero of The Elegant Universe, it is not a human-side-of-physics story. Greene's focus throughout is the science, and he gives the nonspecialist at least an illusion of understanding – or the sense of knowing what it is that you don't know. And that is traditionally the first step on the road to knowledge. Mary Ellen Curtin, Amazon.com

Parallel Worlds: A Journey Through Creation, Higher Dimensions, and the Future of the Cosmos. Michio Kaku
Well-known physicist and author Kaku tells readers in this latest exploration of the far reaches of scientific speculation that another universe may be floating just a millimeter away on a "brane" (membrane) parallel to our own. We can't pop our heads in and have a look around because it exists in hyperspace, beyond our four dimensions. However, Kaku writes, scientists conjecture that branes – a creation of M theory, marketed as possibly the long-sought "theory of everything" – may eventually collide, annihilating each other. Such a collision may even have caused what we call the big bang. Publishers Weekly

Big Bang : The Origin of the Universe. Simon Singh
A baffling array of science books claim to reveal how the mysteries of the universe have been discovered, but Simon Singh's Big Bang actually delivers on that promise. General readers will find it to be among the very best books dealing with cosmology, because Singh follows the same plan he used in his brilliant Code Book: he puts people – not equations – first in the story. Amazon.com

The Cosmic Landscape: String Theory and the Illusion of Intelligent Design. Leonard Susskind
Physicist Susskind is a founder of string theory, and his first popular work will be of utmost significance to science readers. They will be challenged throughout by Susskind's ideas, of which strings are but a part; his driving curiosity is to discover why the laws of physics are what they are and so finely poised to permit life. Susskind discusses how slight alterations of physical values would destroy atoms and, hence, life. Deeming unscientific any proposition of a supernatural agency in setting the physical dials so exactly, Susskind advances a radical concept he calls the "landscape." Booklist

Just Six Numbers: The Deep Forces That Shape the Universe. Martin Rees
Science writer and astronomer Rees summarizes the history of the universe, pointing out that six numbers related to basic physical constants (for example, the relative strengths of the gravitational and electromagnetic attraction) determine how the universe developed. In addition, he shows how, if these numbers were only slightly different, stars and galaxies would not form, complex chemistry would not be possible, and life could not evolve. Library Journal

The Book of Nothing : Vacuums, Voids, and the Latest Ideas about the Origins of the Universe. John Barrow
Nothing's conceptual origins were fraught with fear and disbelief, and only three civilizations independently discovered it. How Nothing went from a Babylonian place holder, a Mayan decoration in the empty space where no number fell and an Indian dot signifying all the current aspects of zero, to one of the most essential elements in mathematics, physics and cosmology, is the subject of this enlightening history. Barrow, a Cambridge professor of mathematical sciences, follows Nothing's evolution in a clear, well-organized narrative. Publishers Weekly

Before the Beginning: Our Universe and Others. Martin Rees
Sophisticated instruments and spacecraft expeditions probing deeper into space have all increased our knowlege of the universe and its place in the grand scheme of things. From the theoretical insights to experimental confirmations, this book describes the universe and our quest to understand it. Rees, the well-known cosmologist and director of Cambridge University's Institute of Astronomy, outlines the historic context and explains discoveries and ideas with clarity and in an engaging style. Library Journal

The Universe in a Nutshell. Stephen Hawking
Adult/high school-writing in a lighthearted, personal, often humorous style and with colorful and entertaining graphics on every page, Hawking succeeds in communicating his love and enthusiasm for science. Without seeming to condescend, he makes a valiant attempt to clarify many fascinating and elusive topics such as relativity and time; multiple universes and dimensions; black holes and dark matter; prediction of the future; and the possibility of time travel. School Library Journal

ADVANCED
Cosmology. Steven Weinberg
"A monumental book written by a leading authority in particle physics and cosmology. Since publication of Weinberg's famous book Gravitation and Cosmology 35 years ago, there has been a real revolution both in cosmological theory and observations. A major effort of a great expert has been required to summarize the main developments in one book, and to make this presentation both highly accurate and accessible. This book will be greatly appreciated by a broad readership, ranging from students who just enter the field to experts in modern cosmology. It should be on the desk of every actively working cosmologist." Andrei Linde, Stanford University

Modern Cosmology. Scott Dodelson (Academic Press, 2003)
"...I like the choice of topics and detailed derivations of some of the basic processes which cannot be found in any other textbook and which really make this book a textbook out of which one can actually learn something. Examples include detailed derivation of inflationary spectrum, Boltzmann equation etc. ... I also like the extensive list of problems at the end of each chapter. This is a great textbook that is long overdue given the importance of the subject..." Uros Seljak, Princeton University