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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, 80 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.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©2016 Massachusetts Institute of Technology (P)2016 Gildan Media LLC

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Meagerly executed audio

Ian Stewart’s book is written well enough for a popular science essay on astronomy, but I might have enjoyed it much more if the narration would have been carried out in a more enthusiastic fashion. As it goes, Dana Hickox overly inflects almost every sentence’s last words, making the narration a very tiresome listening experience. Also, his pronunciation often is a hindrance in following the course of the book if one didn’t have a rudimentary understanding of astronomy to begin with. For instance, he makes “ecliptic” sound like “elliptic”, what he replaces Newton’s “Principia Mathematica” with is barely recognizable as such, and when he reads out titles of publications other than in English, it’s entirely unintelligible gibberish. Here, some training would be valuable, so as to achieve the high standard set, for instance, by Ray Porter, whose narration of both fiction and science books is outstanding. It’s a pity, really, since the book itself appears to be well written and sound.

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