cover image The Cosmic Web: Mysterious Architecture of the Universe

The Cosmic Web: Mysterious Architecture of the Universe

J. Richard Gott. Princeton Univ, $29.95 (312p) ISBN 978-0-691-15726-9

With an insider’s insight and a storyteller’s eye for detail, Gott (Time Travel in Einstein’s Universe), professor of astrophysics at Princeton University, explores the ways scientists have worked to reveal the large-scale structure of our universe. Gott begins with early 20th-century observations by astronomer Edwin Hubble, which showed that the Milky Way is just one of millions of galaxies spread across an expanding universe. Further observations revealed clusters and superclusters of galaxies, like “meatballs within meatballs within meatballs.” Gott shows how early researchers struggled to explain these density fluctuations, modeling the inflation of the universe after the Big Bang with models that imagined “pancakes” of galaxies forming the walls of “honeycombs” in a kind of “Swiss cheese” or sponge-like universe—which could be just one of an infinite series of “bubble” universes. The story becomes personal when Gott relates how his own high school science project led him to breakthroughs in topology that explained the mysterious architecture of the universe. Mixing accessible science with entertaining anecdotes and personal stories, Gott offers a thorough, vivid, and fascinating look at the cosmic web that makes up our universe. Illus. [em]Agent: Jeff Kleinman, Folio Literary Management. (Mar.) [/em]