Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The History of the Search for Dark Matter

The 4 Percent Universe: Dark Matter, Dark Energy, and the Race to Discover the Rest of Reality by Richard Panek

Summary: The epic, behind-the-scenes story of an astounding gap in our scientific knowledge of the cosmos.   

In the past few years, a handful of scientists have been in a race to explain a disturbing aspect of our universe: only 4 percent of it consists of the matter that makes up you, me, our books, and every planet, star, and galaxy. The rest—96 percent of the universe—is completely unknown.   

Richard Panek tells the dramatic story of how scientists reached this conclusion, and what they’re doing to find this "dark" matter and an even more bizarre substance called dark energy. Based on in-depth, on-site reporting and hundreds of interviews—with everyone from Berkeley’s feisty Saul Perlmutter and Johns Hopkins’s meticulous Adam Riess to the quietly revolutionary Vera Rubin—the book offers an intimate portrait of the bitter rivalries and fruitful collaborations, the eureka moments and blind alleys, that have fueled their search, redefined science, and reinvented the universe.

Review: A history of the search for dark matter and the experiments and theories leading up to it.  

First and foremost, this book is about the history of dark matter and the search for it.  I had been looking forward to reading this book and I must admit to being disappointed that it was almost about the history instead of the physics.  Dark matter and dark energy are so fascinating since we knew so little about them.  especially since they make up so much of the universe. History is always needed when talking about physics, but I had been hoping for much more of the physics. This book barely discussed it. Those who do not know about the physics might be confused at times. 

While light on physics, this book certainly provides all the history and experiments you could hope for. It is a little hard keeping track of all the experiments and the experimenters. The chapters skip between different experiments and concepts so there isn't a chronological order so that makes things a bit harder to follow. I did not realize how ruthless experimenters could be nor how catty. Despite lacking the physics, this book was still very interesting and provided a good background. 


Recommendation: I would recommend this book to those that are interested in physics or science history. 

No comments:

Post a Comment