Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Cosmological "Heart of Darkness"

Another reading I did thanks to the professor in Warsaw mentioned in previous post,
who pointed the book to me: "Heart of Darkness" by J.P.Ostriker and S. Mitton. Both are the
renowned cosmologists, and the "Science essentials" Princeton edition is a
very good way to stay in touch with the recent developments, even for an
astrophysicist. I warmly recommend it.

The writing does not necessarily follow the historical line, it is rather focused
on a paradigm shifts. But it gives a good sense of the struggle to make
sense of data in cosmology, not only of the theoretical development.

It is still a revelation to many people to understand that cosmology is a
kind of more straightforward science than, say, solid state physics. That
its theoretical base is close to elementary particles or high energy
(astro)physics, not something from the other side of the spectra of Physics.
This is well emphasised in the book, with a novel Newtonian calculations for
the basic relations in Cosmology, like critical density and other parameters
of the standard cosmological model.

The slow appreciation, and acceptance, of the Big Bang model, is presented
in extense, the reader can understand how it is intertwined with our
understanding of the stellar and evolution of galaxies.

Cosmology today can not be taught without the Dark matter and Energy -
indeed, as the title of the book shows, they stole the show. Authors
artfully show the slow, but persistent, seeping of the Darkness into the
Cosmology during the last century of research.

Again, a good read, even for a professional astrophysicist, with some
interesting insider stories.

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