The Big Bang Never Happened

Eric Lerner, Author Crown Publishers $21.95 (466p) ISBN 978-0-8129-1853-3
Readers inspired by Stephen Hawking's A Brief History of Time should brace themselves for Lerner's larger history of time, space and a new force: the humanistic sociology of science. The timely news (making headlines as this review goes to press) is that the Big Bang cosmology can no longer contain all the new evidence astronomers have gathered about the physical nature of the universe. In fact, Lerner argues, the persistence of the Big Bang and other finite definitions of the universe is rooted less in data gathered by radio telescopes than in medieval devotion to the idea of the finite, perfectly ordered universe. Lerner calibrates the Big Bang's development as one of the swings of the ``cosmological pendulum'' of science in history--from the perfect, mathematically closed systems of early Christian cosmos to the scientific revolution of the 19th century, back to today's ``Theory of Everything'' in particle physics. Lerner's own cosmology is plasma-based, an incomplete physics that includes electromagnetism as well as Einstein's gravity principles at work in the creation of one of an ever-expanding universe, which requires neither creator nor ``bang,'' and is still evolving with humankind. Lay readers will need familiarity with the basics of quantum theory or a science dictionary to fully appreciate this grand tour of three centuries of cosmology, but this is an expedition of the scientific mind that includes all the grandeur, rigor and challenge to our humanity that has marked cosmology since Galileo. Plasma physicist Lerner holds open the door to one of science's inner rooms for a popular audience. Illustrations not seen by PW. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 04/01/1991
Release date: 04/01/1991
Paperback - 496 pages - 978-0-679-74049-0
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