These experiments and others are heroic in every sense, and Ananthaswamy captures their excitement—and the personalities of the scientists behind them—with enthusiasm and insight’—Publishers Weekly
In this deeply original book, science writer Anil Ananthaswamy sets out to explore the world’s most audacious physics experiments: the cutting-edge telescopes and detectors that promise to answer the biggest questions in modern cosmology. Why is the universe expanding at an ever faster rate? What is the nature of the ‘dark matter’ that makes up almost a quarter of the universe? Why does the universe appear fine-tuned for life? Are there other universes besides our own?
In his quest, Ananthaswamy travels to some of the most extreme, remote—and often dangerous—sites on our planet. He takes us to Mount Paranal in the Chilean Andes, where four massive domes of the Very Large Telescope open to the sky each night ‘like dragons waking up’ and collect brilliant images of galaxies billions of light-years away. To the starkly gorgeous Hanle Valley in Ladakh where the relatively nascent Indian Astronomical Observatory uses robotic telescopes to study the seismology of distant stars. And to the East Antarctic Ice Sheet, where engineers are drilling 1.5 miles into the clearest ice on the globe to build the world’s largest neutrino detector, which could finally help reconcile quantum physics with Einstein’s theory of general relativity.
The stories he weaves of the people who work at these and other dramatic research sites—from Lake Baikal in Siberia to the depths of an abandoned iron mine in Minnesota to the subterranean lair of the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva—reveal science to be a human process and make for a compelling new portrait of the universe and our quest to understand it. Atmospheric, engaging and illuminating, The Edge of Reason lucidly unravels essential conundrums and brings cosmology back down to earth in the most vivid terms.
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