Posted on Friday, February 28, 2014
By Kadri

New Eyes on the Universe by Stephen Webb

Twelve Cosmic Mysteries and the Tools We Need to Solve Them

Rating: 8/10

There have been times in physics, when some of the leading scientists have thought that physics is "done", as Lord Kelvin said:
 "There is nothing new to be discovered in physics now, All that remains is more and more precise measurement."
Scientists showed quickly that there are more things to find out about in physics, for example what process powers the Sun, or what all matter is made of, but that was decades ago.In astronomy it hasn't been exactly like that, as the use of spectroscopy and observations in different wavelengths opened up a magnificent view to a cosmos, that was more interesting than just noting down the locations and magnitudes of stars or changes in nebulae. However sometimes astronomy might come across as just observing stars and galaxies, and is there even anything more interesting in the field?

"New Eyes on the Universe" shows that there is plenty more research subjects in astronomy and cosmology, that we are just beginning to find out more about.

Some of the mysteries that are introduced in the book are naturally familiar to a popular science reader. Dark matter and dark energy are some of these more familiar mysteries, that are still lacking a definite solution. Theories abound, we just have to find out which one (if any) is correct. For that however one needs data, which might come either from observations or from experiments on Earth.
How exactly are cosmologists and particle physicists expecting to find dark matter or what measurements can be taken in case of dark energy, one can find out from this book.

The question of gravitational waves and the Higgs boson are also prominent in the book, as we're introduced to some of the methods that have already been employed in the search of the elusive "God particle", or in trying to catch the space itself waving because of two neutron-stars colliding for example.

If you have an opinion that astronomers are dealing just with observing stars and galaxies, then this book will be a true eye-opener as it sheds light to neutrinos, for example, which are near-impossible to catch, but with new technologies and methods scientists are breaking in to the mystery of where they come from and how they interact and change from one type of neutrino to another.

And in the twenty-first century maybe it will finally be the time when scientists working on the SETI (search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) project will find receive signals from an intelligent civilization. Their problems and science is also introduced.

Naturally there is another way for scientists to be searching for life - through the research of exoplanets. By now there have been more than a thousand exoplanets found. True, most of them have been giant planets in very tight orbits around their stars, but as scientists come up with ever new methods for finding them, there are smaller planets found. 

Overall this book also introduces astronomical research in almost all wavelengths, from obserations of gammaray bursts to the cosmic microwave-background, and the telescopes that are only just new being built or will be in the future. It is definitely a book that might inspire young readers to go into astronomy.

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