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Our universe seems strangely "biophilic," or hospitable to life. Is this happenstance, providence, or coincidence? According to cosmologist Martin Rees, the answer depends on the answer to another question, the one posed by Einstein's famous remark: "What interests me most is whether God could have made the world differently." This highly engaging book explores the fascinating consequences of the answer being "yes." Rees explores the notion that our universe is just a part of a vast "multiverse," or ensemble of universes, in which most of the other universes are lifeless. What we call the laws of nature would then be no more than local bylaws, imposed in the aftermath of our own Big Bang. In this scenario, our cosmic habitat would be a special, possibly unique universe where the prevailing laws of physics allowed life to emerge. Rees begins by exploring the nature of our solar system and examining a range of related issues such as whether our universe is or isn't infinite. He asks, for example: How likely is life? How credible is the Big Bang theory? Rees then peers into the long-range cosmic future before tracing the causal chain backward to the beginning. He concludes by trying to untangle the paradoxical notion that our entire universe, stretching 10 billion light-years in all directions, emerged from an infinitesimal speck. As Rees argues, we may already have intimations of other universes. But the fate of the multiverse concept depends on the still-unknown bedrock nature of space and time on scales a trillion trillion times smaller than atoms, in the realm governed by the quantum physics of gravity. Expanding our comprehension of the cosmos, Our Cosmic Habitat will be read and enjoyed by all those--scientists and nonscientists alike--who are as fascinated by the universe we inhabit as is the author himself.
Astronomer Royal Martin Rees shows how the behaviour and origins of the universe can be explained by just six numbers. How did a single genesis event create billions of galaxies, black holes, stars and planets? How did atoms assemble - here on Earth, and perhaps on other worlds - into living beings intricate enough to ponder their origins? This book describes the recent avalanche of discoveries about the universe's fundamental laws, and the deep connections that exist between stars and atoms - the cosmos and the microscopic world. Just six numbers, imprinted in the big bang, determine the essence of our world, and this book devotes one chapter to explaining each.
It has already been called the scientific breakthrough of the century: the detection of gravitational waves. Einstein predicted these tiny ripples in the fabric of spacetime nearly a hundred years ago, but they were never perceived directly until now. Decades in the making, this momentous discovery has given scientists a new understanding of the cataclysmic events that shape the universe and a new confirmation of Einstein's theory of general relativity. Ripples in Spacetime is an engaging account of the international effort to complete Einstein's project, capture his elusive ripples, and launch an era of gravitational-wave astronomy that promises to explain, more vividly than ever before, our universe's structure and origin. The quest for gravitational waves involved years of risky research and many personal and professional struggles that threatened to derail one of the world's largest scientific endeavors. Govert Schilling takes readers to sites where these stories unfolded--including Japan's KAGRA detector, Chile's Atacama Cosmology Telescope, the South Pole's BICEP detectors, and the United States' LIGO labs. He explains the seeming impossibility of developing technologies sensitive enough to detect waves from two colliding black holes in the very distant universe, and describes the astounding precision of the LIGO detectors. Along the way Schilling clarifies concepts such as general relativity, neutron stars, and the big bang using language that readers with little scientific background can grasp. Ripples in Spacetime provides a window into the next frontiers of astronomy, weaving far-reaching predictions and discoveries into a gripping story of human ambition and perseverance.
A provocative and inspiring look at the future of humanity and science from world-renowned scientist and bestselling author Martin Rees Humanity has reached a critical moment. Our world is unsettled and rapidly changing, and we face existential risks over the next century. Various outcomes-good and bad-are possible. Yet our approach to the future is characterized by short-term thinking, polarizing debates, alarmist rhetoric, and pessimism. In this short, exhilarating book, renowned scientist and bestselling author Martin Rees argues that humanity's prospects depend on our taking a very different approach to planning for tomorrow. The future of humanity is bound to the future of science and hinges on how successfully we harness technological advances to address our challenges. If we are to use science to solve our problems while avoiding its dystopian risks, we must think rationally, globally, collectively, and optimistically about the long term. Advances in biotechnology, cybertechnology, robotics, and artificial intelligence-if pursued and applied wisely-could empower us to boost the developing and developed world and overcome the threats humanity faces on Earth, from climate change to nuclear war. At the same time, further advances in space science will allow humans to explore the solar system and beyond with robots and AI. But there is no "Plan B" for Earth-no viable alternative within reach if we do not care for our home planet. Rich with fascinating insights into cutting-edge science and technology, this accessible book will captivate anyone who wants to understand the critical issues that will define the future of humanity on Earth and beyond.
"We are buried beneath mountains of fast-accumulating data. In such circumstances, this book, rather than adding to the data load, aims to offer real understanding." -James Lovelock Human beings are extraordinary creatures. Intelligent, agile, and curious, we have adapted and invented our way to becoming the most important species on the planet. So great is the extent of our influence, that many speak of a new geological era, the Anthropocene, an age defined by human-induced change to the blue and green globe we call home. Our lofty status comes with responsibility as much as possibility: How should we approach our present and future? What knowledge should we carry with us? Conceived by James Lovelock, inventor of the Gaia theory, this illustrated essay collection brings together an all-star lineup of thinkers and scientists to offer essential understanding about who we are, how we live, and where we might be going. Much as the Gaia theory considers our Earth as an integrated whole of living systems, The Earth and I encourages holistic understanding. Across 12 chapters, we take in both the intricate details and immense structures of our species and our planet, from our ever-expanding universe to our minuscule but mighty cells. We see stellar explosions and the layers of life beneath our feet, delve into the neuroscience of decision-making, get to grips with our climate, and contemplate our increasing intimacy with technology. The book's world-class contributors include quantum physicist Lisa Randall, Astronomer Royal Martin Rees, Pulitzer Prize-winning biologist Edward O. Wilson, and Nobel Prize-winning neuroscientist Eric Kandel. With lively illustrations from British artist Jack Hudson, the result is an inspiration for curious minds young and old, and a trusted tool kit for an informed and enlightened future.
What do CERN, smartphones, the iridium satellite network, the most popular app stores in the world, the biggest online game in the world, Moscow drivers, Seniors golfer Tony Johnstone, sufferers of rheumatoid arthritis and anyone who has their DNA sequenced have in common? They all rely on innovations that have come out of the technology cluster known as the Cambridge Phenomenon. This book, a follow-up to The Cambridge Phenomenon: 50 Years of Innovation and Enterprise, showcases what the Cambridge technology cluster has done for the world. The Cambridge Phenomenon: Global Impact reveals just how many of us, all around the globe, rely on Cambridge technology every day. This book tells the important, hidden story of how academic excellence and entrepreneurial endeavour have improved people's lives the world over. It is crucial reading for anybody interested in the ways successful businesses work, and the fundamental role of our great educational institutions in fostering that success.
A Physics Today Best Book of the Year A Forbes "For the Physics and Astronomy Lover in Your Life" Selection "Succinct, accessible, and remarkably timely... This book is a rare find." -Physics Today "Belongs on the shelf of anyone interested in learning the scientific, historical, and personal stories behind some of the most incredible scientific advances of the 21st century." -Forbes The detection of gravitational waves has already been called the scientific breakthrough of the century. Einstein predicted these tiny ripples in the fabric of spacetime over a hundred years ago, but they were only recently perceived directly for the first time. Ripples in Spacetime is an engaging account of the international effort to complete Einstein's project, capture his elusive ripples, and launch an era of gravitational-wave astronomy that promises to explain, more vividly than ever before, our universe's structure and origin. "Schilling's deliciously nerdy grand tour takes us through compelling backstory, current research, and future expectations." -Nature "A lively and readable account... Schilling underlines that this discovery is the opening of a new window on the universe, the beginning of a new branch of science." -Graham Farmelo, The Guardian
How hot is Venus? Can you distinguish between a pulsar and a quasar? Is there a universe or a multiverse? Where do we fit into the infinitely grand scheme of things? How do we map the Cosmic Microwave Background? Most tantalizing of all: Is there anyone out there?
The answers to these and many other far-out questions lie in your hands. Everyone’s gazing at the heavens, but a voyage through the star-studded contents of this book will blow your mind. Astronomy encapsulates the terrifying hugeness of the cosmos into bite-size particles that mere earthlings can understand: 50 incredible discoveries brought down to Earth using no more than two pages, 300 words, and a picture.
This one small volume takes you on a cosmic tour, shedding light on the most awesome of objects and places, explaining some very big ideas, concepts, and discoveries, and presenting the scientists and observers who have done so much to crack Life, the Universe, and Everything. Welcome aboard.
When it comes to big science, very few things are conclusively known. From Quantum Mechanics to Natural Selection, what we have instead are theories - ideas explain why things happen the way they do. We don't know for certain these are correct - no one ever saw the Big Bang - but with them we can paint beautiful, breathtaking pictures of everything from human behaviour to what the future may hold. Profiling the key scientists behind each theory, "30-Second Theories" presents each entry in a unique, eye-catching full-colour design, with thought-provoking extras and stylish illustrations. It is essential for anyone keen on expanding their mind with science's most thrilling ideas.
World authority on astrophysics, Sir Martin Rees, takes us on a journey through all the things which could wipe out mankind in the near future. From asteroids to disease to scientific discoveries gone wrong (from nanobots to the large Hadron collider) these are scenarios from disaster movies, analysed with a serious scientific eye. Some of these things definitely won't happen, some genuinely might - this is one book you won't be able to put down and which you'll never forget.
Popular cosmologist Martin Rees of Cambridge University traces the essential features of the physical cosmos to six numbers imprinted in the Big Bang, and argues that if a single one were untuned, there would be no stars and no life.
In this landmark book, one of the twentieth century's greatest astronomers presents scientific evidence that our vast universe may be only a grain of sand on the infinite cosmic shore.It is now widely accepted that our universe exploded around 15 billion years ago from an unimaginably energetic initial event: the big bang. As the primordial material expanded and cooled, it evolved into the exquisite patterns of stars and galaxies we now observe. The mix of energy and radiation that characterizes our universe was imprinted in that initial instant,as were the binding forces of nuclear physics and gravity that controlled our universe's evolution.The experimental triumphs and theoretical insights of recent years,from the detection of neutrinos from exploding stars to the search for extraterrestrial life,offer the most dramatic enlargement in our concept of the universe since astronomers first realized the sun's true place among the stars. In this illuminating work, Sir Martin Rees, Britain's Astronomer Royal and one of the most creative and original of contemporary scientists, draws these advances together with up-to-the-minute research on black holes, dark matter, and nucleosynthesis of the elements. He also sheds light on some of the personalities behind the science, offering first-hand impressions of Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, Stephen Hawking, John Archibald Wheeler, and Fred Hoyle, among others.With stunning clarity, Professor Rees argues that a family,even an infinity,of universes may have been created, each by its own big bang, and each acquiring a distinctive imprint and its own laws of physics. These baby universes will either live out their immense cosmic cycle, or die because those laws do not allow them to achieve longevity.Our "home universe," then, is just one element in a cosmic archipelago where impassable barriers prohibit communication between the islands. But, as Rees demonstrates, our universe is an exceptional member of this infinite ensemble, for it is still near the beginning of a fascinating evolutionary process that will end either in the heat-death of external expansion, or in what scientists call a "big crunch." Most remarkable of all, our universe contains creatures able to observe it. The multi-universe revolution in cosmological thought limned by Rees casts a piercing light on man's place in the cosmos, and argues that the conditions permitting the evolution of life stand on the razor's edge between a dead universe and one filled with living beings.
How hot is Venus? Can you distinguish between a pulsar and a quasar? Is there a universe or a multiverse? Where do we fit into the infinitely grand scheme of things? How do we map the Cosmic Microwave Background? Most tantalizing of all: Is there anyone out there? The answers to these and many other far-out questions lie in your hands. Everyone's gazing at the heavens, but a voyage through the star-studded contents of this book will blow your mind. Astronomy encapsulates the terrifying hugeness of the cosmos into bite-size particles that mere earthlings can understand: 50 incredible discoveries brought down to Earth using no more than two pages, 300 words, and a picture. This one small volume takes you on a cosmic tour, shedding light on the most awesome of objects and places, explaining some very big ideas, concepts, and discoveries, and presenting the scientists and observers who have done so much to crack Life, the Universe, and Everything. Welcome aboard.
Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington (1882-1944) was a key figure in the development of modern astrophysics, who also made important contributions to the philosophy of science and popular science writing. The Arthur Eddington Memorial Trust was set up after his death in order to hold annual lectures on the relationship between scientific thought and aspects of philosophy, religion or ethics. This 2012 collection gathers together six of these lectures, including contributions by Sir Edmund Whittaker, Herbert Dingle, Richard B. Braithwaite, John C. Eccles, Dame Kathleen Lonsdale, and Baroness Mary Warnock, together with Eddington's 1929 Swarthmore Lecture on Science and the Unseen World. A preface written by the Astronomer Royal, Baron Rees of Ludlow, is also included. This is a fascinating book that will be of value to anyone with an interest in the philosophy of science and Eddington's legacy.
Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington (1882 1944) was a key figure in the development of modern astrophysics, who also made important contributions to the philosophy of science and popular science writing. The Arthur Eddington Memorial Trust was set up after his death in order to hold annual lectures on the relationship between scientific thought and aspects of philosophy, religion or ethics. This 2012 collection gathers together six of these lectures, including contributions by Sir Edmund Whittaker, Herbert Dingle, Richard B. Braithwaite, John C. Eccles, Dame Kathleen Lonsdale, and Baroness Mary Warnock, together with Eddington's 1929 Swarthmore Lecture on Science and the Unseen World. A preface written by the Astronomer Royal, Baron Rees of Ludlow, is also included. This is a fascinating book that will be of value to anyone with an interest in the philosophy of science and Eddington's legacy.
Bolstered by unassailable science and delivered in eloquent style, "Our Final Hour"'s provocative argument that humanity has a mere 5050 chance of surviving the next century has struck a chord with readers, reviewers, and opinion-makers everywhere. Rees's vision of our immediate future is both a work of stunning scientific originality and a humanistic clarion call on behalf of the future of life.
In this riveting, eye-opening new book, preeminent astrophysicist Martin Rees charts out the future of science, offering a compelling vision of how scientists and laypeople can work together to address the most urgent issues of our era-including climate change and energy concerns, population growth, and epidemiological threats. Scientific research is crucial to a growing number of policy decisions, but in our public discussions, ideology and indignation all too often threaten to drown out research and evidence. To shape debates over health care, energy policy, space travel, and other vital issues, ordinary citizens must engage directly with research rather than relying on pundits' and politicians' interpretations. Otherwise, fringe opinions that have been discredited in the scientific community can take hold in the public imagination. At the same time, scientists must understand their roles as communicators and ambassadors as well as researchers. Rees not only diagnoses this central problem but also explains how scientists and the general public can deploy a global, long-term perspective to address the new challenges we face. In the process, he reveals critical shortcomings in our current system-for example, the tendency to be overly anxious about minor hazards while underrating the risk of potential catastrophes. Offering a strikingly clear portrait of the future of science, Rees tackles such diverse topics as the human brain, the possibility that humans will colonize other planets, and the existence of extraterrestrial life in order to distinguish between what scientists can hope to discover and what will always lie beyond our grasp. A fresh perspective on science's significance and potential, From Here to Infinity will inspire and enlighten.
Richly illustrated with the images from observatories on the ground and in space, and computer simulations, this book shows how black holes were discovered, and discusses our current understanding of their role in cosmic evolution. This second edition covers new discoveries made in the past decade, including definitive proof of a black hole at the center of the Milky Way, evidence that the expansion of the Universe is accelerating, and the new appreciation of the connection between black holes and galaxy formation. There are entirely new chapters on gamma-ray bursts and cosmic feedback. Begelman and Rees blend theoretical arguments with observational results to demonstrate how both approaches contributed to this subject. Clear illustrations and photographs reveal the strange and amazing workings of our universe. The engaging style makes this book suitable for introductory undergraduate courses, amateur astronomers, and all readers interested in astronomy and physics.
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