Today we are on the verge of discoveries that should soon reveal the deepest secrets of the universe. In Alpha & Omega, Charles Seife takes us to the front lines of the cosmological revolution to synthesize the discoveries of scientists at observatories and laboratories around the world who are actually peering into both the cradle of the universe and its grave. The cast of characters includes galaxy hunters and microwave eavesdroppers, gravity theorists and atom smashers, all of whom are on the trail of dark matter, dark energy, and the growing inhabitants of the particle zoo. Seife's lucid explanations of scientific theories and current research make cutting-edge science both crystal clear and wonderfully exciting.
Seife's book shines in four major areas. First, in his history of cosmology, he presents an incisive perspective on the relationship between the Roman Catholic Church and science's evolving picture of the cosmos. Next, the most important new tool aiding our cosmological understanding of the universe involves careful measurements of the cosmic background radiation, first discovered in 1965, that represents the afterglow of the Big Bang. Seife's discussion of the physics of this background radiation is as clear and up-to-date as any found in popular literature. He also very nicely brings in the inner space-outer space connection by describing accurately how investigations at large particle accelerators may directly affect our understanding of cosmology. Finally, he touches on the area the Time writers were so confused about: the future. The recent discovery about the acceleration of the universe has completely changed our picture of what its ultimate fate might be, even if we don't know what the answer is. Lawrence M. Krauss