The Edge of the Sky: All You Need to Know About the All-There-Is by Roberto Trotta
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
When I first heard about this book on NPR, I thought "How clever: the current state of cosmology using only the 1,000 most common words in English".
The book was more clever than informative, with a couple of notable exceptions. For the most part, I found the "dumbed down" descriptions to be confusing because of the wordiness needed to end-around some fairly useful scientific jargon. I don't know that reading this as a neophyte would do much more than frustrate the reader and send him or her off to more rigorous works.
That said, if you have a working knowledge of questions and theories surrounding such phenomena and ideas as dark energy, the Doppler Effect, cosmological inflation, the theory of multiverses, and the Higgs-Boson, then the book does provide a new way of looking at these problems. The section on how dark matter was inferred is absolutely brilliant in its simplicity. Then again, the section on multiverses might make a creationist out of the most avowed atheist (incidentally, and it doesn't matter here, but so you know, I am not an atheist, though I have very many very good friends who are and with whom I have fascinating, lively, and respectful conversations about cosmology, among other things).
But I don't think Trotta's point in writing this was to tell "All you need to know about the All-There-Is" to those who already have a working knowledge of the current state of cosmology (again, using only the 1,000 most common words in the English language). I had understood from the interview that I heard with the author that he intended this to be for those who had no knowledge whatsoever of current theory in the field. While this book is a good review for those already "in the know," I think that the initial goal was not met, and might be impossibly ambitious.
The book itself is a beautiful little artifact, I must admit. It is small, but seems substantial. the only thing that could have improved it was dotting that gorgeous indigo cover with actual glow-in-the-dark star dots. I'm not going to lie - that would have pushed the book up into four-star-territory for me. I'm a sucker for glow-in-the-dark anything. Just not a sucker for books that don't quite live up to their stated aims. Close . . . but not quite.
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