Calculating the Cosmos
I have long since given up the idea that I will ever understand the mathematics of the Cosmos but this did not stop me picking up this book, subtitled How Mathematics Unveils the Universe. I suspected I wouldn't get far but was pleasantly surprised. This is more a professor of mathematics point of view of the Cosmos but without the mathematics. Ian Stewart uses a fireside chat style of writing with liberal dabs of humour. He begins with how the ancients viewed the planets and the stars, leading up to Kepler and Newton. They of course used mathematics to make sense of the orbit of the planets. This moved on to questions about why the planets are in the orbit they are in and he explains how mathematicians have tried to understand and model the rings of Saturn, the comets and asteroids and more recently, how stars move within galaxies.
Later in the book he addresses the bigger issues like the big bang, inflation, dark energy and dark matter. In it he gives a fresh insight into how divided the scientific community is on many of these issues and led me to wonder how sure I should be about what actually happened.
In the final chapters he takes a look at the question of why are we here. I enjoyed Ian Stewart's fresh approach to all these questions, with a better understanding of the mathematician's role in the discovery of the cosmos. But when it comes to understanding the mathematics itself, I am no further ahead. Peter
Ian Stewart's up-to-the-minute guide to the cosmos moves from the formation of the Earth and its Moon to the planets and asteroids of the solar system and from there out into the galaxy and the universe. He describes the architecture of space and time, dark matter and dark energy, how galaxies form, why stars implode, how everything began, and how it will end. He considers parallel universes, what forms extra-terrestrial life might take, and the likelihood of Earth being hit by an asteroid. Mathematics, Professor Stewart shows, has been the driving force in astronomy and cosmology since the ancient Babylonians. He describes how Kepler's work on planetary orbits led Newton to formulate his theory of gravity, and how two centuries later irregularities in the motion of Mars inspired Einstein's theory of general relativity. In crystal-clear terms he explains the fundamentals of gravity, spacetime, relativity and quantum theory, and shows how they all relate to each other. Eighty years ago the discovery that the universe is expanding led to the Big Bang theory of its origins. This in turn led cosmologists to posit features such as dark matter and dark energy. But does dark matter exist? Could another scientific revolution be on the way to challenge current scientific orthodoxy? These are among the questions Ian Stewart raises in his quest through the realms of astronomy and cosmology.
One of the world's great mathematicians explores the origins, history and future of the universe
A fascinating tour, seamlessly spliced and historically contexualised Nature Ian Stewart elegantly reviews the uncanny effectiveness of mathematics in explaining the universe... Mr. Stewart beautifully describes how Newton's laws can still produce surprising results. Wall Street Journal The book does an excellent job of both explaining and entertaining. The author makes you think about familiar subjects in a new way and is very good at filling in any gaps in your knowledge, while also pointing out those areas that need further research Sky at Night Magazine With captivating stories and his signature clarity, Ian Stewart shows us how math makes the world - and the rest of the universe - go round -- Steven Strogatz, Professor of Mathematics, Cornell University, and author of The Joy of X Stewart is Britain's most brilliant and prolific populariser of maths. -- Alex Bellos Stewart is sure to please math lovers, history buffs, and science enthusiasts alike by covering an array of eras, innovators, and disciplines. Publishers Weekly Praise for previous books: 'This is not pure maths. It is maths contaminated with wit, wisdom, and wonder. Ian really is unsurpassed as raconteur of the world of numbers. He guides us on a mind-boggling journey from the ultra trivial to the profound. Thoroughly entertaining New Scientist Stewart has served up the instructive equivalent of a Michelin-starred tasting menu, or perhaps a smorgasbord of appetisers. And of course, appetisers are designed to give you an appetite for more Guardian
Ian Stewart is Mathematics Professor Emeritus at the University of Warwick. His books include Incredible Numbers, Seventeen Equations that Changed the World, The Great Mathematical Problems and Professor Stewart's Casebook of Mathematical Mysteries. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society; his awards include the IMA Gold Medal (2000), the American Association for the Advancement of Science's Public Understanding of Science and Technology Award (2001), the Zeeman Medal (2008), and the Lewis Thomas Prize (2015, joint with Steven Strogatz).