cover image The Case of the Missing Neutrinos: And Other Curious Phenomena of the Universe

The Case of the Missing Neutrinos: And Other Curious Phenomena of the Universe

John R. Gribbin. Fromm International, $22 (224pp) ISBN 978-0-88064-199-9

A myriad of ""baby universes"" dangle from ours, connected umbilically to our own spacetime by tunnel-like wormholes. Neutrinos, elusive particles once believed to be without mass, now, as it turns out, seem to contain most of the mass in the universe--and could even cause the eventual recollapse of the cosmos. These are some of the seemingly off-the-wall yet highly respectable issues of current cosmological debate reviewed in Gribbin's wonderfully lucid collection of essays. Although all these pieces were originally published in the Griffith Observer over the last two decades and cover terrain familiar to fans of Gribbin's popular books (In Search of Schrodinger's Cat, etc.), they tell a coherent, dramatic story. Three related essays neatly set forth one of the great unsolved modern puzzles: the deficit in the number of neutrinos produced in the sun's nuclear furnace and flooding Earth (only one-third of the expected number have been detected). Elsewhere, Gribbin maps the ""quiet revolution"" that led to the modern view of galaxy formation, which explains why some galaxies, like our Milky Way, are flattened, disklike spirals while others are fat ellipses or hybrid forms. Whether demonstrating how the existence of black holes lurks in Newton's theories or making us privy to astronomers' recent glimpses of a supernova explosion, Gribbin proves himself a master popularizer, always enlightening and entertaining without sacrificing essential detail. Here, he gives us a basic primer to the dizzying intermarriage of cosmology, astronomy and particle physics. (Dec.)