As humans, we evolve and learn new things about our world continuously. Using science, we create new medications, innovative technologies, and find new discoveries. We rush to create the future before we even take the time to think about the past and how we got to where we are today. Have you ever wondered what was here before the earth or if there are things outside of our universe? If so, I feel that The Bigger Bang is a great book which provides a well written overview of cosmological theory which concisely explains the origin and evolution of the universe. The book introduces the fascinating ideas scientists are currently developing to explain what happened in the first billion, billion, billion, billionth of a second – the ‘inflationary’ epoch (Lidsey). Ultimately, this book covers the birth of the universe, the structure of the universe, and current questions and speculation we have about the universe. This book is great for this course since it can be
used as an introduction to cosmology for students which could act as their founda.
James E. Lidsey, the author of The Bigger Bang, holds a Royal Society University Fellowship at Queen Mary and Westfield College. He has been awarded the Valerie Myerscough Prize in Physics, Mathematics and Astronomy as a doctoral student. He was later honored by the Gravity Research the Fifth Prize and named one of the 100 people most likely to play an influential role over the next decade by the Sunday Times (Abebooks). He has some notable affiliations including those with NASA, the University of Chicago, and the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab). I believe that he is a very credible author due to his intensive background in astronomy and all of his notable achievements in research. In The Bigger Bang, Lidsey concisely explains the origins and evolution of the universe. The main chapters in his book, which is what he specifically talks about, are: The Structure of the Universe, Why Does the Sun Shine?, The Expansion of the Universe, Space, Time and Gravity, Particles, Grand Unification, The Big Bang, Beyond the Big Bang, The Inflating Universe,The Eternal Universe, Black Holes, and The Birth of the Universe. This book is interesting because it allows the readers to learn about current theories as to how the universe became what it is today. It gives you a sense of understanding in that you realize what was here before you and the processes that took place. As stated previously in the abstract, this book relates heavily to Physics 10240 because it goes over concepts that are introduced in introduction to cosmology courses.
The main goal of the first chapter was to introduce the reader to the structure of the universe. Lindsey concisely explained our solar system. He asserts that “The Earth belongs to a collection of objects known as the solar system . The central and largest object in this system is the sun. Nine planets, including the Earth, orbit the sun. Pluto is the planet most distant from the sun, and Pluto’s orbit may be viewed as the edge of the solar system (Lidsey). What lies beyond our solar system is then explained starting with Proxima Centauri, the closest star to the sun, which is forty trillion kilometers away. He then described what a light year was, which is the distance light travels in one year when moving at its speed of three hundred thousand kilometres per second (Lidsey). We then learn that our solar system makes up a small part of our galaxy, known as the Milky Way. After we leave the galaxy into the vast emptiness of space, we have observed over one hundred billion different galaxies which makes up our universe. Lidsey concludes that the study of the universe as a whole is known as cosmology. In this chapter, I generally knew most of the concepts he went over. However, I did gain a better sense of distance in the universe because he not only gave some distances in light years, but also in kilometers.
Lidsey uses this chapter to describe how we are able to see light, and the different types of lights. He asserts that visible light is apart of a spectrum categorized by electromagnetic radiation. Light travels at a fixed speed, but their are different wavelengths which determine the amount of energy they carry. Shorter wavelengths equal a higher energy and vice versa. Visible light falls near the middle of electromagnetic spectrum, which is further split into wavelengths that are necessary for different colors. Lidsey states that sunlight is just a mixture of different colors. He explains that the colors are separated when they pass through the different densities of raindrops explaining the natural phenomenons of rainbows. He then goes into further detail explaining that electrons in an atom are the sole creators of light. He explains that electrons move through different energy level rings depending on how much energy they have acquired. Whenever an electron drops down a ring, it emits radiation in the form of light. This process takes place all around us and is the we can see light. The sun emits radiation which is partly visible light, and partly stronger radiation which makes its way into the earth surface. I was introduced to the electromagnetic spectrum before this course but I gained the knowledge of electrons being the creator of visible light.
Chapter three addresses the fact that the universe and the galaxies within it are constantly expanding. Lidsey makes it very understandable when explaining how the universe is expanding. From our vantage point on earth, it appears that everything is slowly moving away from us. The same effect would happen from any location in the universe. The proper explanation for the expansion of the universe was discovered experimentally by the American astronomer Edwin Hubble in 1929. He found that the separation speed of a point from the observer is a direct proportion to its distance. It’s concluded from this chapter that the universe is expanding in the sense that the average distance between galaxies is increasing over time. No single galaxy is stationary, and all galaxies move with respect to one another. One consequence of this observation is that in earlier times the universe must have been a lot smaller than it is today. If this expansion has proceeded throughout the history of the universe, the universe must have been extremely small at very early times. It would have been so small, in fact, that the galaxies would have effectively been squashed together on top of one another (Lidsey).
This chapter goes over the theory of gravity and time that describes the large-scale dynamics of the universe which was developed by Albert Einstein and other researchers. Using an example regarding two observes from different reference points measuring the intervals between lamp flashes, it was concluded that time is intrinsically related to the motion of the person who is measuring it. This is because the observers effectively measure time differently. Ultimately, the two observers both had correct measurements and this is explained by using the fourth dimension known as space-time which is a combination of space and time. When examining an object in space-time, the observes don’t think of space and time as separate entities but instead combine them allowing them to obtain the same results. Lidsey asserts that the force of gravity, also known as attractions between objects, is equivalent to a curving of space-time. It is gravity that keeps solar systems, and galaxies connect, yet the universe is still expanding. This chapter gave me a more in-depth explanation of space-time which was introduced in our course
This chapter explains the different types of forces and particles. With such a large amount of different particles, Lidsey categorizes them by three fundamental characteristics: Electric charge, mass, and spin. Some particles have electric charge, while others don’t. Those that don’t have a charge are electrically neutral. The mass of a particle contributes to its energy. Mass can be converted into energy and vice-versa. Some particles have mass and others don’t just like the electric charge property. The spin determines the rate of rotation of that particle. Particles are divided into two groups depending on how much spin they have which are either bosons or fermions. Lidsey asserts that “Particles that have zero spin or twice the spin of the electron are examples of bosons. Particles that carry the same spin as the electron, or three times that amount, are fermions. The electron is an example of a fermion. (Lidsey). When packed together, fermons can be related to hard marbles while bosons are more malleable.
This chapter explains the unification between electromagnetic forces and weak forces. Particles have distinguishable properties naturally on earth due to these forces. When is gets above 10^15 degrees, the effects of electromagnetic and weak forces become indistinguishable. Lidsey asserts that these forces become unified above that temperature. The reason behind this unification is because of the high amount of energy caused from higher temperatures. As the temperature rises, more energy causes tremendous change in particles. The highest temperature that have been observed in an accelerator on earth is 10^15 degrees (Lidsey). It is speculated that temperatures higher than this combined even more forces which is known as the Grand Unification Theory. This theory is behind that of the Big Bang, which states that during the creation of the universe, there were very tight particles and extreme temperatures.
This chapter explains the speculated event known as the Big Bang. Lidsey states “this is the idea that the universe began as a rapidly expanding and intensely hot fireball.??? Lidsey measures the age of the universe in the units of temperature. It is believed that the universe was ten billion degrees hot a second after it was formed. From then on, atoms formed about three hundred thousand years later. The universe was made up of different hot floating particles which later changed into different objects as they cooled down. Dense matter known as islands began to split off into mini islands of matter. These mini stars then formed into stars and the regular islands refer to the galaxies that we observe today. This process of fragmentation took over one billion years to complete. This briefly explains the progression of our universe to what it is today.
This chapter goes more in depth as to what took place after the big bang. Researchers claim that particles were colliding every second due to high densities. This leads to the creature of those “islands??? as mentioned in the previous chapter. As the island separated they formed the stellar structured that we observe today. Heat from the initial big bang is still present today in the form of radiation. Lidsey asserts that we are safe because the wavelength of this radiation is relatively low, as in lower than that of visible light which is no harm to us. It has been found that just liked gravity causes a rising ball to fall back down, there is a possibility that the universe collapses back down in the future. Lidsey claims that the answer to if this happen lies in whether the force of expansion is stronger than that of collapsing. The uncertainties are currently too much to come to a conclusion on what will happen in the future.
This chapter discusses the inflation of the universe which means a rapid expansion of space in a very short time. This is also known as cosmological inflation according to Lidsey. Lidsey creates an analogy where a ball being thrown into the air is symbolism for the universe expanding. He asserted that the height of the ball represents the size of the universe, while the rate of expansion in the universe equals how rapidly the ball continues to gain height. He then returns to the fact that just as a ball is thrown into the air, it eventually has to come back down once it loses its momentum. He linked this with the expansion of the universe. The universe is still expanding from the big bang, but theoretically, it should slow down to the point where it starts collapsing. Apparently, it is too early to make a conclusion on what the future of the universe holds. This chapter taught me that the universe could possibly start collapsing.
The chapter examined the theories behind dimensions beyond the third. The universe currently only contains three large space dimensions. Lidsey claims that the other dimensions may be to small for us to observe, and the reason for this is speculated to be that those dimensions didn’t grow our observable region in the universe. The universe has been divided into large portions known as planck-sized regions. Lidsey claims that there is possibility that other regions inflated more than some which would allow them to have higher dimensions. It is believed that the next region to us could be over 10^10000 meters away. Lidsey concludes that maybe our religion is designed to have three dimensions since three dimensions are necessary for life and other particles to exist on earth. This chapter taught me that parts of the universe could inflate at different rates. I thought the universe expanded consistently in all directions.
This chapter explains the phenomenon known as black holes. Lidsey does a great job of explaining the complex nature of black holes. He starts off by explaining the natural action of light. When we perceive something with our eyes, we are technically viewing the light that bounces off of the object and our brain deciphers the light to know what’s actually in front of us. The point Lidsey makes is that the light has to reflect or “escape??? from the surface of the page in order for us to perceive it. To describe black holes, he stated that a collapsing star’s gravity must become so strong, that light can’t even escape from its surface. Even radiation can’t escape. Nothing can escape because there is nothing that moves faster than the speed of light. When the star reaches this state, the distant observer can no longer perceive it since there’s no light escaping, and the star would be categorized as a black hole. Lidsey asserts that black holes will collapse until it vanishes into a single point of infinite density known as a singularity. He then makes a point about the event horizon, or the boundary of the black hole, which is a section near the black hole where the observer can’t view, but hasn’t been absorbed by the singularity. This chapter reinforced a lot of material that we learned in class about black holes.
This final chapter speculates about the true instant origin of the universe. He first introduced the concept that the universe was created out of absolutely nothing. Lidsey reasons that quantum fluctuations in empty space could have resulted in the spontaneous creation of particles and antiparticles thus resulting in the big bang. This theory goes against the law of the conservation of energy because if the big bang is true, we indeed created something out of nothing whereas the law states that energy cannot be created nor destroyed. Ultimately, the birth of the universe is still in speculation. Researches don’t know what could have caused the quantum fluctuations, nor the conditions could the fluctuations occur in. This chapter ultimately gave me more speculation about how the universe could have truly started.
Ultimately, this book is good because Lidsey makes complex theories and concepts relatively simple to comprehend. He does a great job of evaluating the universe in chronological order so that the reader doesn’t get confused. He also does this evaluation concisely which maintains the attention of the reader and also allows them to understand the material easier. The best chapters of the book were the structure of the universe, the big bang, and black holes. I feel that the big bang chapter was great at explaining the theory behind the creation of the universe and the events that followed. The structure chapter was great at painting a picture in the reader’s head as to what part of the universe looks likes from a distance. Lastly, I felt the the black holes chapter efficiently written to explain the black hole phenomenon. Black holes are such complex objects and Lidsey did an outstanding job of simplifying part of its concept. The book is only bad to those who want to go into serious depth about cosmology. This book kind of scratches the surface of the complex cosmic theories. As previously stated, I feel that this book is targeted towards beingineers of cosmological studies such as students in an introduction to cosmology course. I would strongly recommend this book to stay on the reading list because it’s such a great tool for teaching new cosmology students.
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