Before the Big Bang

Ernest J. Sterglass, Author, Ernest J. Sternglass, Author
Ernest J. Sterglass, Author, Ernest J. Sternglass, Author Four Walls Eight Windows $24.95 (294p) ISBN 978-1-56858-087-6
Reviewed on: 12/30/1996
Release date: 01/01/1997
Paperback - 338 pages - 978-1-56858-189-7
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Albert Einstein once advised Ernest Sternglass to support himself with a ""cobbler's job"" so he could pursue research on the side and make his mistakes in private. Instead, Sternglass went on to a long, hardly private career as an esteemed professor of radiological physics at the University of Pittsburgh Medical School. Here, he presents a theory that neatly ties together the history of the universe with the structure of the atom. Sternglass claims that before the Big Bang, all the mass of the universe was contained within a single, ultramassive atom consisting of an electron and its positively charged twin (a positron) orbiting each other at nearly the speed of light. Over trillions of years, this atom began multiplying by dividing in half repeatedly, laying down the still massively dense ""seed"" structure of the present-day galaxies and superclusters, until ""motional energy"" initiated the Big Bang. When scientists observe massive nuclei in the centers of galaxies, according to Sternglass, they are seeing remnants of those seed particles. This theory is elegant in its simplicity, but Sternglass miscalculates when he casts his account of its development as a memoir. His lively first-hand sketches of Einstein, Neils Bohr and Richard Feynman humanize these giants of 20th-century physics, but many readers will stumble over the extended technical discussions that often ensue. Physics buffs however, should find the book to be challenging and provocative fare. Illustrations not seen by PW. 20,000 first printing. (Oct.)
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