The 4 Percent Universe: Dark Matter, Dark Energy, and the Race to Discover the Rest of Reality


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Customer Reviews

He succeeds because he recognizes that he's writing not just about red shifts and supernovae, but about people Dark secrets. Panek's joyful journey through the wilds of modern cosmology gives us good reason to care about those secrets, and their sure-to-be surprising answers.

One detail remained disturbing: Galaxies were moving too fast. Since gravity controls movements, they had to be heavier than predicted.


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By the s, this "missing mass" problem became critical as it became clear that galaxies, including ours, were rotating so fast that missing mass far outweighs visible objects such as stars. Even after eliminating gas and dust, "dark matter" represents strange particles unknown to science.

The Dark Side Of The Universe

Astronomers also believed that gravity was slowing expansion of the universe but debated if galaxies would reverse themselves, continue to recede ever more slowly or the favorite theory simply stop. Panek describes frustrating struggles with high-tech detectors, complex computer algorithms and massive telescopes to search distant galaxies for the key.

What's 96 Percent of the Universe Made Of? Astronomers Don't Know | Space

The answer came in the late '90s expansion wasn't slowing but speeding up. Flabbergasted astronomers understood that accelerating billions of galaxies requires immense energy. Since Einstein proved that energy and mass are equivalent, this "dark energy" makes up three-quarters of the universe. Dark energy added to dark matter reduces the familiar universe to 4 percent of the total. Panek delivers vivid sketches of scientists, lucid explanations of their work and revealing descriptions of the often stormy rivalry that led to this scientific revolution, usually a media cliche, but not in this case.

The search for these hidden elements began in the s with astronomers asking whether the universe would end in an infinitely expanding "Big Chill" or a collapse into a "Big Crunch"--or whether the universe is a just-right "Goldilocks" space that would nurture stars and galaxies forever. This book brought me up to speed with the current state of the art in physics and astronomy. This was the first science book I had read in years and it was a great choice.

He explains the science such that even I could follow it.

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I warn you, if you are new to reading science books, this one will inspire you into reading many, many other science books. I really enjoyed this book. I listened to it twice back-to-back. The content is highly engaging, the pacing is brisk, and the narration was very expressive.

A great listen that is as informative as it is enjoyable to listen to. If you are interested in the big bang, the expanding universe, dark matter, dark energy, the cosmic microwave background radiation, cosmic structures and superstructures, then this book is a good fit. It explains those topics along with the people, groups, and collaborations that drove important research on those and more topics in the last years.

I expected a good, well organized primer on theories surrounding dark matter. By "Race to Discover the Rest of Reality" I thought the author would describe bleeding edge research into higher theoretical physics. I was surprised to find that he mean't this quite literally. He focuses mainly on the competition between groups of scientists and universities to be the first to publish on various topics.

We are given smatterings of physics theory with loads of academic esoterica. There are lengthy sections describing how this or that scientist came to feel their toes had been stepped on or how someone had stabbed them in the back by publishing before agreed upon dates. Perhaps I simply misunderstood what the book was about to but these sort of things don't interest me at all. Perhaps an anecdote here or there might be interesting but this goes way beyond that.

If you are hoping to read about physics or the cosmos I recommend one of the books by Brian Greene. They explore cosmic theory in great detail and in a highly engaging manner, without overwhelming you with math or the kind of personal gripes that are described here. OK -- I'm a science nerd, and I was expecting a science nerd book: Another book about cosmology, quantum mechanics, string theory and whatnot to bring me to a closer understanding of things that you can't really understand without the math.

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Which I don't have. Not a math nerd. Instead, I got a very engaging story about scientists poking at the edges of reality, with actual plot, intrigue, politics, and drama. This was the life I had envisioned for myself in high school. After hearing this book, how I wish I hadn't switched gears! I coulda been in this story. I coulda been a contenda Yeah -- this book actually makes scientists seem like rock stars.

OK -- really peculiar rock stars. More peculiar than usual -- but still I think some layman's background in the topics astronomy and particle physics would be helpful, but you don't need to be a scientist to enjoy this book. And despite the fact that this is not really a science book, you will come away a pretty good understanding of what it's all about. Although I knew much of the science here, this book put things into perspective and gave me a deeper understanding of it all.

A view from 30, feet is sometime what you need to have it all make sense. I didn't give it five stars because this is not Stephen King, after all. But it's a really good listen. The narrator deserves a lot of credit for making this a really good listen. He has a lively and energetic style, and I could hardly believe he had not lived the story.

I downloaded this with a little hesitation, being fairly familiar with dark matter and dark energy and their effects upon the expanding universe. I had some trepidation that this would simply rehash information I already had. Much to my delight, the book really dug into the politics of science and the scientists involved in the race to discovery.

Contrary to George's review and he has every right to have wanted a different perspective , I enjoyed this book thoroughly because of its look at the human and political side of science. Sometimes I get stuck on an author and compare everything else I read in that genre to that author.

Such is the case with Michio Kaku. I read Parallel Universes when it first came out and was blown away. As I wrote in my review, most of the book was way over my head but somehow I got a feel and glimmer of understanding for even those parts of the book that were. Kaku has a genius that makes the almost incomprehensible concepts in physics sometimes seem simple and obvious.

The 4 Percent Universe did not leave me feeling that way. I would not say that Panek was unclear in the 4 Percent Universe. Actually, I had the feel that it was more a flat lesson in the history of science. It was a book that just had fewer revelations for me. With Kaku there were just so many "Ah Ha" moments.

Hopefully, without sounding too hokey, when reading Kaku, there were moments of what felt like transcendence, an altered state of consciousness. Pretty high bar to set huh? Yeah, I know. Sorry, Richard Panek. You were just fine Plenty of detail here on the lives of the astronomers who pieced together the mysteries of dark matter and dark energy, but all that detail actually made me understand less rather than more.

The book focuses on the drama and infighting of the scientific community, but in the process of listening to these stories the science and explanations behind these discoveries gets lost. This book could be one fifth its size if insignificant endless details about personal lives of astronomers were omitted. It is annoying. Your audiobook is waiting…. By: Richard Panek. Narrated by: Ray Porter.

Length: 10 hrs and 7 mins. People who bought this also bought Feynman By: Richard P.

Winner of 2012 AIP Science Communication Awards for Science Writing

Publisher's Summary Over the past few decades, a handful of scientists have been racing to explain a disturbing aspect of our universe: only four percent of it consists of the matter that makes up you, me, our books, and every star and planet. At its heart is a search for what forces and particles make up reality. It baffled Einstein, and it now obsesses a cadre of fascinating cosmologists. By brilliantly capturing their passions and pursuits, Richard Panek has made this cosmic quest exciting and understandable.

This lively story of big personalities, intellectual competitiveness, and ravenous curiosity is as entertaining as it is illuminating. What members say Average Customer Ratings Overall. Amazon Reviews. Sort by:. Most Helpful Most Recent. Just Right - Not too technical not boring This is a pleasant story of some of the characters and events in astrophysics over the last few decades with a focus on recent data showing the expansion of the universe is unexpectedly accelerating.

A great first cosmology book.


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  • The 4 Percent Universe: Dark Matter, Dark Energy, and the Race to Discover the Rest of Reality The 4 Percent Universe: Dark Matter, Dark Energy, and the Race to Discover the Rest of Reality
    The 4 Percent Universe: Dark Matter, Dark Energy, and the Race to Discover the Rest of Reality The 4 Percent Universe: Dark Matter, Dark Energy, and the Race to Discover the Rest of Reality
    The 4 Percent Universe: Dark Matter, Dark Energy, and the Race to Discover the Rest of Reality The 4 Percent Universe: Dark Matter, Dark Energy, and the Race to Discover the Rest of Reality
    The 4 Percent Universe: Dark Matter, Dark Energy, and the Race to Discover the Rest of Reality The 4 Percent Universe: Dark Matter, Dark Energy, and the Race to Discover the Rest of Reality
    The 4 Percent Universe: Dark Matter, Dark Energy, and the Race to Discover the Rest of Reality The 4 Percent Universe: Dark Matter, Dark Energy, and the Race to Discover the Rest of Reality

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