A Seminary Co-op Notable Book
A BBC Sky at Night Best Book
“An impressively comprehensive bird’s-eye view of a research topic that is both many decades established and yet still at the very cutting edge of astronomy and physics.”
—Katie Mack, Wall Street Journal
“Schilling has craftily combined his lucid and accessible descriptions of science with the personal story of those unlocking the finer details of the missing mass mystery. The result is enthralling…A captivating scientific thriller.”
—BBC Sky at Night
“Fascinating…A thorough and sometimes troubling account of the hunt for dark matter…You will come away with a very good understanding of how the universe works. Well, our universe, anyway.”
—Michael Brooks, New Scientist
When you train a telescope on outer space, you can see luminous galaxies, nebulae, stars, and planets. But if you add all that together, it constitutes only 15 percent of the matter in the universe. Despite decades of research, the nature of the remaining 85 percent is unknown. We call it dark matter.
Physicists have devised huge, sensitive instruments to search for dark matter, which may be unlike anything else in the cosmos—some unknown elementary particle. Yet so far dark matter has escaped every experiment. It is so elusive that some scientists are beginning to suspect there might be something wrong with our theories about gravity or with the current paradigms of cosmology. Govert Schilling interviews believers and heretics and paints a colorful picture of the history and current status of dark matter research. The Elephant in the Universe is a vivid tale of scientists puzzling their way toward the true nature of the universe.
An impressively comprehensive bird’s-eye view of a research topic that is both many decades established and yet still at the very cutting edge of astronomy and physics. Along the course of this whirlwind tour, we catch glimpses of the lives and motivations of many of the key thinkers and builders who have defined the dark matter problem, as well as those who hope, sooner or later, to solve it.
The book is both an advertisement for the thrill of scientific discovery and the visionaries who pursue the big questions simply because they are there. Schilling has craftily combined his lucid and accessible descriptions of science with the personal story of those unlocking the finer details of the missing mass mystery. The result is enthralling…A captivating scientific thriller. Future generations will no doubt be grateful for this fascinating contemporary account.
Schilling takes readers on a journey through the stories of a veritable army of physicists from around the globe as they have sought to understand the dark matter and dark energy that appear to make up 95% of our Universe.
Fascinating…A thorough and sometimes troubling account of the hunt for dark matter…Schilling is an expert guide not only to dark matter and the equally baffling dark energy, which gets a good outing here, but to particle physics and cosmology…You will come away with a very good understanding of how the universe works. Well, our universe, anyway.
Takes the reader on a vivid and entertaining journey through the history of the search for dark matter…Through interviews with personalities on both sides of historical controversies, the book is a colorful account of science in action, and is thoughtfully balanced to be engaging for a general audience as well as detailed enough to satisfy readers with a more technical background.
A non-technical, historical, personal, up-to-date, correct, balanced, well-written, and well-researched book.
Expertly explains what we’ve learned about dark matter, and what we have yet to learn.
Curious, indefatigable, and a fine writer, Schilling clearly relays the work of astrophysicists…An entertaining account of a scientific quest that has failed—so far.
Fascinating history…Schilling convincingly argues that even without proof of its existence, dark matter has increased people’s understanding of the world—the search for it has led to greater knowledge of galaxies, gravity, and the big bang, among other phenomena. It makes for a solid introduction to an elusive topic.
Govert Schilling has written a riveting narrative that brings you up to date on the research into astronomy's most long-standing and frustrating mystery: What is the universe's main ingredient? Thoroughly researched and highly enjoyable.
From a revered science writer, a clear, wide-ranging account of one of the deepest and most fascinating mysteries in astronomy.
A genuine page-turner. Schilling masterfully tells the stories of some of the greatest—and quirkiest—minds ever to probe the cosmos.
With this book, Schilling offers us a clear and entertaining update on the quest to understand the nature of dark matter. The way he tells this story beautifully captures the sense of mystery that those of us working in this field experience every day.
A lively book by a skilled science journalist on an important topic in cosmology: the dark matter.
Govert Schilling brings his longtime experience of writing about astronomy and its history to this exciting volume. Newcomers to the field will find much to learn in these pages, and experts much to discuss.
- 376 pages
- 1 x 5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches
- Belknap Press
- Foreword by Avi Loeb
From this author
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