Where Did the Universe Come From? And Other Cosmic Questions, by Chris Ferrie and Geraint F. Lewis examines those questions. The authors show how the answers have changed over the last 50 years.
The pair looks at the biggest thing in existence, the universe itself. They examine the smallest things, including subatomic particles. They explain how the largest and smallest things in the universe are interrelated and affect each other. They do so in language a layperson can understand.
The book starts with a discussion of quantum mechanics and cosmology. It looks at the way things work at the micro level and the macro level. The authors go through the origins of both fields of physics, introducing the major players in both fields. This discussion also reveals that science is never really settled. It evolves and changes based on new information. They highlight some of the big controversies and how they get resolved.
The book conducts a wide-ranging examination of the biggest questions in physics: What is matter? Why did it appear? (It is a fascinating question, really.) Will matter last forever? Where do elements come from? Why does gravity not play nicely with the electromagnetic forces?
Ferrie and Lewis spend time looking at stars. This includes discussions of how and why they formed, what their life cycle is like, and what happens when they burn out. They explain why some stars simply go dark while others become black holes.
They also look at the history and future of the universe, discussing theories on how it formed and when (or if) it will end. Throughout all of this they show the limitations of scientific theory. They emphasize their discussion is based on best guesses.
They conclude with a discussion of the theory of everything and show how scientists are working towards a series of mathematical equations that explain how the universe works, from its smallest elements to its largest.
Where Did the Universe Come From?” is a fascinating report on the state of modern physics. The authors do an outstanding job presenting complex mathematics in a format a non-technical reader can absorb and understand. If you are curious about the universe, this book is worth reading.
“Where Did the Universe Come From? And Other Cosmic Questions,” by Chris Ferrie and Geraint F. Lewis, Sourcebooks, 2021, 272 pages, $17.99 (hardcover) $7.99 (ebook)
*Mark Lardas is an engineer, freelance writer, historian and model-maker living in Texas. Mark posts on Ricochet as “Seawriter,” and is well-known for his regular and much appreciated reviews of books on all subjects. Of his reviews, he says “I have an unusual approach to reviewing books. I review books I feel merit a review. Each review is an opportunity to recommend a book. If I do not think a book is worth reading, I find another book to review.” His website is marklardas.com.