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Physicsworld.com
Universe Today
Sean Carroll (pdf)

Michael D Lemonick

Echo of the Big Bang

We now know the composition of the universe with surprising precision. Half a percent of it is visible, with ordinary matter that we can't see making up another 4%. Dark matter makes up 23% and the rest is mysterious Dark Energy. In Echo of the Big Bang, Michael D Lemonick tells how this precision was achieved with the development of the WMAP satellite.

Lemonick starts with the history of cosmology, from Einstein's theories and Hubble's observations at the start of the 20th century, through the discovery of the Cosmological microwave background radiation in the 1960's to the results from the COBE satellite in the 1990's

The main part of the book is concerned with the origin and subsequent development of the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) satellite. This is a book which is more concerned about the people involved than the science which is being done. Personally, I'm not that keen on reading about priority squabbles between scientists, but I felt the book went on it got more interesting. Also, it does give an insight into the workings of science for those with a non-technical background, and in particular those who want to find out how scientists are able to obtain such precise results about stuff we know next to nothing about.

Amazon.com info
Hardcover 224 pages  
ISBN: 0691102783
Salesrank: 2201039
Weight:0.9 lbs
Published: 2003 Princeton University Press
Amazon price $6.99
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Amazon.co.uk info
Hardcover 224 pages  
ISBN: 0691102783
Salesrank: 1891556
Weight:0.9 lbs
Published: 2003 Princeton University Press
Amazon price £30.95
Marketplace:New from £5.97:Used from £0.01
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Amazon.ca info
Hardcover 224 pages  
ISBN: 0691102783
Salesrank: 3359161
Weight:0.9 lbs
Published: 2003 Princeton University Press
Amazon price CDN$ 83.96
Marketplace:New from CDN$ 25.33:Used from CDN$ 0.01
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Product Description

A tight-knit, high-powered group of scientists and engineers spent eight years building a satellite designed, in effect, to read the genome of the universe. Launched in 2001, the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) reported its first results two years later with a set of brilliant observations that added focus, detail, and insight to our formerly fuzzy view of the cosmos.


For more than a year, the WMAP satellite hovered in the cold of deep space, a million miles from Earth, in an effort to determine whether the science of cosmology--the study of the origin and evolution of the universe--has been on the right track for the past two decades. What WMAP was looking for was a barely perceptible pattern of hot and cold spots in the faint whisper of microwave radiation left over from the Big Bang, the event that almost 14 billion years ago gave birth to all of space, time, matter, and energy.


The pattern encoded in those microwaves holds the answers to some of the great unanswered questions of cosmology: What is the universe made of? What is its geometry? How much of it consists of the mysterious dark matter and dark energy that continue to baffle astronomers? How fast is it expanding? And did it undergo a period of inflationary hyper-expansion at the very beginning? WMAP has now given definitive answers to these mysteries.


On February 11, 2003, the team of researchers went public with the results. Just some of their extraordinary findings: The universe is 13.7 billion years old. The first stars--turned on--when the universe was only 200 million years old, five times earlier than anyone had thought. It is now certain that a mysterious dark energy dominates the universe. Michael Lemonick, who had exclusive access to the researchers as WMAP gathered its data, here tells the full story of WMAP and its surprising revelations. This book is both a personal and a scientific tale of discovery. In its pages, readers will come to know the science of cosmology and the people who, seventy-five years after we first learned that the universe is expanding, deciphered some of its deepest mysteries in the patterns of its oldest light.