A User's Guide to the Universe: Surviving the Perils of Black Holes, Time Paradoxes, and Quantum Uncertainty

Author(s): Dave Goldberg


This title provides answers to science's most enduring questions ranging from 'Can I build a transporter, like on Star Trek?' and 'Is there life on other planets?' to 'What is empty space made of?'. In "A User's Guide to the Universe", physicists Dave Goldberg and Jeff Blomquist make good on two promises: you'll get answers and you won't have to decipher any equations to understand them (well, maybe just one very short and very familiar equation). This quirky and fun book takes you on a fascinating tour of the universe as we know it by asking (and answering) weird, important, and provocative questions. It explains subjects as diverse as special relativity, quantum mechanics, randomness, time travel, the expanding universe, and much more. It includes dozens of delightfully groan-worthy cartoons that explain everything from special relativity to dark matter. This plain-English, plain-hilarious handbook ushers you through all of the major discoveries of modern physics, from relativity to the Large Hadron Collider, without furrowing your brow even once. Put your mind at ease and jump into modern physics in a way you never imagined possible comfortably.


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"If you've ever wondered what happened before the big bang or where the universe is expanding, then the new book A User's Guide to the Universe is for you. A hilariously serious journey through all the big questions (Can I build a time machine?) with answers from real-life physicist David Goldberg and sly illustrator Jeff Blomquist, this indispensable window on modern science makes a great nonfiction companion to the beloved, A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. (Christian Science Monitor)

Dave Goldberg is an associate professor of physics at Drexel University, where he works on theoretical and observational cosmology. He earned his Ph.D. in astrophysical sciences at Princeton University and is very interested in the interface between science and pop culture. He has contributed to Slate and appeared on WNYC's Studio 360. He lives with his wife and daughter in Philadelphia. Jeff Blomquist earned his master's degree in physics from Drexel University in 2008 and is currently an engineer at Boeing Aerospace. He drew the illustrations in A User's Guide to the Universe all by himself! He lives in Philadelphia and has only recently stopped sleeping on a couch.

Acknowledgments. Introduction. "So, what do you do?" 1 Special Relativity. "What happens if I'm traveling at the speed of light, and I try to look at myself in a mirror?" Why can't you tell how fast a ship is moving through fog? How fast does a light beam go if you're running beside it? If you head off in a spaceship traveling at nearly the speed of light, what horrors await you when you return? Can you reach the speed of light (and look at yourself in a mirror)? Isn't relativity supposed to be about turning atoms into limitless power? 2 Quantum Weirdness. "Is Schrodinger's Cat Dead or Alive?" Is light made of tiny particles, or a big wave? Can you change reality just by looking at it? If you look at them closely enough, what are electrons, really? Is there some way I can blame quantum mechanics for all those times I lose things? Can I build a transporter, like on Star Trek? If a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, does it make a sound? 3 Randomness. "Does God play dice with the universe?" If the physical world is so unpredictable, why doesn't it always seem that way? How does carbon dating work? Does God play dice with the universe? 4 The Standard Model. "Why didn't the Large Hadron Collider destroy Earth?" What do we need a multibillion-dollar accelerator for, anyway? How do we discover subatomic particles? Why are there so many different rules for different particles? Where do the forces really come from? Why can't I lose weight (or mass)-all of it? How could little ol' LHC possibly destroy the great big world? If we discover the Higgs, can physicists just call it a day? 5 Time Travel. "Can I build a time machine?" Can I build a perpetual motion machine? Are black holes real, or are they just made up by bored physicists? What happens if you fall into a black hole? Can you go back in time and buy stock in Microsoft? Who does time travel right? How can I build a practical time machine? What are my prospects for changing the past? 6 The Expanding Universe. "If the universe is expanding, what's it expanding into?" Where is the center of the universe? What's at the edge of the universe? What is empty space made of? How empty is space? Where's all of the stuff? Why is the universe accelerating? What is the shape of the universe? What's the universe expanding into? 7 The Big Bang. "What happened before the Big Bang?" Why can't we see all the way back to the Big Bang? Shouldn't the universe be (half) fi lled with antimatter? Where do atoms come from? How did particles gain all that weight? Is there an exact duplicate of you somewhere else in time and space? Why is there matter? What happened at the very beginning of time? What was before the beginning? 8 Extraterrestrials. "Is there life on other planets?" Where is everybody? How many habitable planets are there? How long do intelligent civilizations last? What are the odds against our own existence? 9 The Future. "What don't we know?" What is Dark Matter? How long do protons last? How massive or nuetinos? What won't we know anytime soon? Further Reading. Technical Reading. Index.

General Fields

  • : 9780470496510
  • : John Wiley and Sons Ltd
  • : John Wiley & Sons Ltd
  • : March 2010
  • : 238mm X 195mm X 22mm
  • : United Kingdom
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Dave Goldberg
  • : Hardback
  • : 523.1
  • : 304
  • : illustrations