The subject of The birth of time
, that is the measurement of the age of the universe, can be rather puzzling. After all, there was no-one to mark when it began, so how can we get a reasonable idea of its age. Fortunately John Gribbin is not just a renowned science writer, he has also been involved with astronomical observations addressing the question. Hence in this book he gives an excellent explanation of how our views on the age of the universe have come about, but one which requires no prior knowledge on the part of the reader.
The book starts with a look at historical opinions concerning the age of the universe. There are then chapters on how the ages and distances of stars and galaxies are deduced. We then come to the expansion of the universe, which, if projected back in time, implies some sort of beginning. We see how the age for the universe found in this way was originally less than that of the oldest stars - clearly something was wrong there. Gribbin then explains how more accurate measurements eventually resolved the problem, and the final chapter describes the part which Gribbin himself played in this research.