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Summary

In Calculating the Cosmos, Ian Stewart presents an exhilarating guide to the cosmos, from our solar system to the entire 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's all going to end. He considers parallel universes, the fine-tuning of the cosmos for life, what forms extraterrestrial life might take, and the likelihood of life on Earth being snuffed out by an asteroid.

Beginning with the Babylonian integration of mathematics into the study of astronomy and cosmology, Stewart traces the evolution of our understanding of the cosmos: How Kepler's laws of planetary motion led Newton to formulate his theory of gravity. How, two centuries later, tiny irregularities in the motion of Mars inspired Einstein to devise his general theory of relativity. How, 80 years ago, the discovery that the universe is expanding led to the development of the Big Bang theory of its origins. How single-point origin and expansion led cosmologists to theorize new components of the universe, such as inflation, dark matter, and dark energy. But does inflation explain the structure of today's universe? Does dark matter actually exist? Could a scientific revolution that will challenge the long-held scientific orthodoxy and once again transform our understanding of the universe be on the way? In an exciting and engaging style, Calculating the Cosmos is a mathematical quest through the intricate realms of astronomy and cosmology.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©2016 Massachusetts Institute of Technology (P)2016 Gildan Media LLC

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

great book, spoiled by narrator

a very good book, the narration was terrible unfortunately, reader had no clue on pronouncing common names in the field

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • R. Yu
  • 18-12-16

The Narrator's Dilemma

Very well written book. Where others merely skim the surface, this one provides the details, necessary equations and delves into the discussions. That said, listening is ruined by the narrator's random guesswork (redundant, eh?) at pronouncing certain names, terms, and even common everyday language. Very annoying, distracting and, at times, misleading. Otherwise, his voice and pacing would have made him an effective choice.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • Geb Blum
  • 17-04-17

Horrible narrator

Mispronounced even the most simple words. Hard to concentrate on the book with the absolutely butchered narration.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Maxine
  • 01-06-17

Somewhat annoying narration, but great book.

As mentioned in previous comments, the narrator's mispronunciations were pervasive and irritating. Although that regularly aggravated my OCD, I found the content of the book was entirely worth it, and often helped me ignore it.

As to the content itself, I was utterly astonished at the amount of astronomical evidence the author gave against currently accepted theories ranging from dark energy and dark matter to the expansion of the universe! I must note, however, that although I am personally still on the fence regarding multiverse theories, I found his refutations of these ideas lacking. For the interested listener, I highly suggest "The Mathematical Universe" by Max Tegmark which gives a clearer explanation of quantum decoherence and how it actually supports the Everretian multiverse as opposed to Mr. Stewart's misinterpretation. Overall, though, I do highly recommend this book, as I haven't seen most of his assertions in anything else I've read.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • James
  • 20-03-17

Crank alert: rejects modern cosmology

Any additional comments?

The first half of the book is a nice survey of our solar system, it's formation, and discovery.

The second half goes off the deep end with bizarre dark matter denial, and crank alternatives to the Big Bang. He also gives a totally incorrect description of Schrodinger's cat.

The author seems to see himself as an outsider as a Mathematician. He constantly attacks a straw man of the physics community. He says things like, "nobody thinks about the boundary conditions" (which is simply false) and "there's also a tenancy to overstate the implications of the latest idea or discovery" (which is true about the media, but not about the scientific community).

This book is a good example of Max Planck's maxim "Science progresses one funeral at a time." This author just can't seem to accept scientific discoveries made after ~1950.

8 of 10 people found this review helpful

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  • Anonymous in Silicon Valley
  • 03-12-17

needs a physicist to read

The problem with this book is that the reader who has a very nice voice knows absolutely nothing about physics and probably is not very well educated at all in particular common mistakes are made that significantly detract from the usability of the book for a general reader and are absolutely grating to someone with a physics education for example the use of the word casual where the correct word is causal is absolutely catastrophic there are any number of other mispronunciations and common mis readings of words where for example inflaton field is read as inflation field that significantly work against a reader who would like to follow up on the material or learn more on the topics the book itself seems to be excellent I think the author did an excellent job however the audio book cannot be called excellent it is at best mediocre and at worst terrible

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Toby
  • 03-09-17

Needs to be re-narrated

Someone who can pronounce the words used in this book should re-record it... Awful, awful mispronunciations abound!! Don’t buy this audio book.... Read the book—that would be my best recommendation !!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Great and powerful IDE
  • 16-05-17

good read/listen for someone interested in Cosmos

loved it broke down the cosmos into very easy to understand and manageable numbers to give a good perspective of topics covered in book.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Greg Schmidt
  • 13-12-16

Fine book, mrs malaprop for a reader

What did you like best about this story?

Lots of new information about the cosmos, including a terrific discussion of the growing doubts about the Big Bang and mutliverses. Many twists on gravity and the arrangement of the various different kinds of bodies in the Universe that were new to me and very intriguing, e.g., LaGrange points and the asteroid belt.

Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Dana Hickox?

Dana Hickox is fine but for a raft of mangled pronunciations. Principia, Charon, Copernicus, Bethe, LaPlace, Magellanic and many others - OK names can be tricky - but boson, parabola, hyperbola, spontaneity, radii, chirality and, for God's sake, analogous. Hickox needs to slow down and look up pronunciations and stop taking flying leaps. He is actually a very good reader but blows it by being lazy on the look ups.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Hendrick Mcdonald
  • 11-01-17

Oddly Underwhelming for Stewart

I think I expected something more akin to The Science of Interstellar, but it was less that and more a history of discoveries in our solar system, with the last third on the wider universe. Found it generally underwhelming, with little more to say than "math is very exact and where there are questions in the data scientists have made discoveries." Meh.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Pinot
  • 15-07-18

Book was good. Performance was distracting.

Hickox voice is good, but he needs a trainer to listen to his pronunciations and coach him.
Interesting and distracting pronunciations – Computing the Cosmos
Pierre-Simon Laplace = pronounces it as le “place” (long a)
Hans Albrecht Bethe = pronounced beeth like teeth
John von Neuman = pronounced von Newman
Bernard Riemann = pronounced Rye-mun like pie-mun
Henrietta Leavitt = pronounced leave-it
Yakov Zel’dovich = pronounced zel-dove'-itch – long “o” – may be OK? Just always heard it more like zel-du-vitch
Alan Guth = pronounced Alan Guth with the “u as in gus. should be gooth as in tooth
Radii = pronounced raid-eye (multiple times)
Barred (as in a barred spiral galaxy) = pronounced bared as in bare naked. Said several times then figured it out when the text mentioned the “bar” in a galactic arm
Axis – pronounced as “access” throughout the entire book
Parabolic = pronounced par-a-bow'-lik (might be OK, I just never heard it this way in math classes.)
Spectroscopy = pronounced spectra-scope'-y
Copernican = pronounced cop(e)-er-knee'-can (long “o”, wrong syllable emphasized)
Argon = pronounced argun
Meson = pronounced ma-sun
Higg’s Boson = pronounced boss-un
Large Hardon Collider = pronounced had-run
Let’s see we have proton, neutron, electron, photon then we have mesun and argun?
Analagous = pronounced analojous – soft g
Causal = pronounced as "casual" throughout the entire book which does not convey the same meaning in physics
Precession (as the precession of the perihelion of Mercury = he pronounced it “precision”. Also does somewhat alter the meaning!
Condensate = pronounced cun-dense'-ate
Magellanic = pronounced ma-gell'-u-nik
Topology = pronounced tope-ology (long “o”) (not bad, I just never hear it this way)
Dodecahedron = pronounced dode-ka-hay'-drun (long “o”)– missed the doe-decca part all together
Icosohedral = pronounced eye-co'-so-drul, leaving out the “he” altogether
Cepheid = pronounced sef-ide (long “i”)
Chirality = pronounced chur-ality (“ch” as in church) should be ki-rality hard “k” and long “i”
Fermilab = pronounced fur-mu-lab
Fermi Gamma-ray Telescope= pronounced fur-my
Fullerene (as in Buckminsterfullerene) pronounced fuller-un (short u or schwa)

Left the “-“ sign off the exponent when reading about an extremely tiny value. Said “10 to the 36” instead it should have been “10 to the minus 36”. It might make a difference!

This was a case of an actor with no scientific knowledge reading something he had never heard of. Where are the directors on such a performance?