cover image In the Beginning: After Cobe and Before the Big Bang

In the Beginning: After Cobe and Before the Big Bang

John R. Gribbin. Little Brown and Company, $22.95 (274pp) ISBN 978-0-316-32833-3

The popularity of Stephen Hawking's A Brief History of Time led to a supernova-like explosion of books by cosmologist-authors who packaged particle physics theory as metaphysics, as though it were the elixir of the scientific life. Science writer Gribbin ( In Search of Schrodinger's Cat ) here advances tentative, mostly borrowed, elaborations of the Big Bang theory, focusing on a Darwinian model that suggests that the entire cosmos, including its governing physical laws, is mutating as the universe bounces back from black hole to Big Bang. He also cites James Lovelock's Gaia model, which implies that the universe is a living entity. Gribbin argues against the anthropic principle used to support the views of John Barrow and Frank Tipler; he also mentions panspermia, the medieval idea that the universe ``seeds'' itself via meteors. The near-confirmation of black hole cosmology by the COBE (Cosmic Background Explorer) satellite has emboldened Big Bang cosmologists. Gribbin's theory, uniting his interests in cosmology and evolution, is not sustained scientifically by its boldness. (Aug.)