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The State of the Universe: A Primer in Modern Cosmology

Pedro Ferreira

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Prose: non-fiction, Cosmology & the universe, Earth sciences

A masterly overview of the development of cosmological thinking from the Greeks, via Newton and Einstein, to the present day.

It is science's last and greatest challenge: fathoming the depths of the night sky. The objective: to crack to cosmic code, to unravel the blueprint for nature's grandest conception, a machine constructed on an unimaginably vast scale - the Universe itself.

Today's model of an expanding Universe - the Big Bang cosmology - is actually built on principles derived from a few simple mathematical equations. Gravity-warped space - time, quantum mechanics, the physics of the subatomic - these crucial insights, stemming from Einstein's revolutionary theories of relativity, have led to a simple and elegant framework within which the whole of the Universe, over billions of years, has been described. But recent evidence has begun to make wrinkles in the neat fabric of the big bang cosmology. There is now overwhelming evidence that there is more stuff in the Universe than we can see. And it now appears that the expansion of the Universe is accelerating: something out there - some exotic 'dark energy' - is acting against gravity to push space and time apart...

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Pedro Ferreira

Pedro Ferreira is a Lecturer in Astrophysics at the University of Oxford and a Tutor and Fellow of Oriel College. He studied physics at the Technical University of Lisbon and obtained a doctorate from Imperial College, London in 1995. He has been a researcher at the University of California at Berkeley, at CERN in Geneva and was awarded a Royal Society University Research Fellowship in 2000. He has given seminars and lecture courses at more than fifty institutions and has published over eighty scientific papers, conference proceedings and popular articles. His work focuses on the relic radiation left over from the Big Bang and the physical principles of the beginning of the Universe. He has a keen interest in education in Africa, teaching at the African Institute of Mathematical Sciences in Cape Town, and has hosted or collaborated with a number of artists on the interface between art and science.