Smoot's claim to have found the ``fifth pillar of cosmology''--the earliest large-scale structure that the Big Bang would have produced--is modest in the context of his prolific career in astrophysics. The book, tightly edited, Smoot notes, to appeal to a wider readership, scants the physicist's early work and focuses on the dramatic conclusions (``the wrinkles in the fabric of time-space'') drawn from the 1992 Cosmic Background Radiation Explorer (COBE) probe. More's the pity: the diary-like details describing Smoot's early high-atmosphere balloon and U-2 plane experiments capture more of the flavor and excitement of working science than do the summaries of cosmological debates. With science writer Davidson, Smoot offers a highly compressed view of his career that tracks a cloud-chamber trail through the present ``golden age of cosmology.'' While many readers will wish to see more of his working life on record, even this fast-forward account of a great moment of affirmation for Smoot and the other contributors and team members he meticulously credits, is a wonder. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 01/03/1994 Release date: 01/01/1994 Genre: Nonfiction
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