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The Elephant in the Universe

Our Hundred-Year Search for Dark Matter

Govert Schilling

ISBN 9780674295490

Publication date: 03/01/2024

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.

Praise

  • 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.

    —Katie Mack, Wall Street Journal

Authors

  • Govert Schilling is the author of dozens of popular astronomy books, including Ripples in Spacetime: Einstein, Gravitational Waves, and the Future of Astronomy. He received the Eureka Prize from the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research and the David N. Schramm Award from the American Astronomical Society. In 2007 the International Astronomical Union named an asteroid, 10986 Govert, in his honor.
  • Avi Loeb is Frank B. Baird, Jr., Professor of Science at Harvard University. He is Founding Director of Harvard’s Black Hole Initiative, chair of the Board on Physics and Astronomy of the National Academies, and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Book Details

  • 376 pages
  • 1 x 5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches
  • Belknap Press
  • Foreword by Avi Loeb

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