The Inflationary Universe: Quest for a New Theory of Cosmic Origins (Anglais) Relié – 3 juillet 1997
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Revue de presse
"[Alan Guth's] remarkably lucid account is set to become a seminal text in cosmology...helping us up the learning curve without ever making recourse to unfriendly mathematical equations" (Literary Review)
"[Guth] conveys how science can be an intensely social and interactive activity, and the erratic and fitful way in which new ideas clarify" (The Times)
"One of the most fascinating and fundamental fields of human enquiry...handsomely rewards study" (Financial Times) --Ce texte fait référence à une édition épuisée ou non disponible de ce titre.
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It's amazing to see what some of the coincidences were that finally lead us to the current state of knowledge.
De plus rare sont les experts qui ont écrit de "gros" livres de vulgarisation sur le sujet et encore moins sur centré sur l'inflation. Celui-ci fait exception avec ses ~370 pages.
Et pour une bonne raison, Alan Guth est l'inventeur de la théorie de l'inflation en 1979 sur laquelle travailleront également des mentors comme Andrei Linde ou Alexey Starobinsky qui gagneront tous les trois le prix Kavli pour leur recherches.
C'est donc LE livre de référence qui doit figurer en bonne place dans votre bibliothèque.
Alan Guth est franchement un génie en son domaine et transmet facilement sa passion pour le sujet.
Ce livre de vulgarisation décrit l'état de connaissance en 1997. Il comprend l'essentiel des nouvelles théories, champ d'inflaton, préchauffement, baryogénèse, etc.
Il est destiné au public ayant un minimum de bases scientifiques (niveau bac suffit) mais fera également un excellent cadeau pour les astronomes amateurs anglophiles.
Commentaires client les plus utiles sur Amazon.com (beta)
for some reason that they were ad hoc, devised out of the blue to explain the flatness problem. This is the first book on the subject that I've ever read that showed me that inflationary theories are
actually derived from more basic theories, and that they just HAPPEN to explain several different problems associated with the classical big bang theory. I was also very intrigued by Guth's explanation of how there is probably a fractal pattern of universes similar to our own that emerges out of the decay of the false vacuum. This is also the first time I've understood that the "multi-universe" proposals really ARE based on scientific theories, and weren't simply pulled out of thin air. A wonderful book that make a host of other books on cosmology look amateurish by comparison
In this book Guth takes us through the basics of the Big Bang theory and then into the idea of inflation--what it is and how it goes along with Big Bang theory. He takes a wonderful historically-developed approach and he does this without the help of (at least as far as I can recall) a single equation in the body of the text. Instead, he uses basic numerical analysis and the help of a number of graphs and illustrations to develop these complex ideas into a very readable explanation. He is also very frank in warning the reader of difficult concepts and directing the less detail-minded to skipping around.
All of this makes for a good science read; however, what I really enjoyed about this book is how he brings out the things that really drive real science, particularly when he reaches those investigations into which he was personally involved. He points out how theory and experiment drive each other. He isn't afraid to show the fights for priority and reputation that often push scientists. He lets us see how the desperation for a secure job, the cockiness of the young researcher and the ego of established names is often the engine for discovery.
Anyone interested in the current state of research into the origins of our universe would be remiss in not reading this book. Many people get the gist of Big Bang theory but fewer understand what Big Bang theory is really about and fewer still understand why the inflationary universe has become so important in recent years. This book will clear away all the fog; in particular, Guth is very clear in explaining the problems with Big Bang theory (the horizon problem, magnetic monopoles, etc.) that are cleared-up with the inflation approach.
More than this, however, the reader will gain real insight into what it is like to be a working scientist. It offers a peak at its excitements and disappoints, even a glimpse at the clashes and in-fighting. Many people often get the idea that science makes grand pronouncements of fact from on high. This book shows that science is, in reality, a continuing struggle for a more and more accurate picture of our universe and how it works. It is a view worth seeing.
Guth, of course, focuses on the theory he was instrumental in formulating: that, in less than a second, a "repulsive gravitational field created by a false vacuum" caused the universe to expand from relatively "nothing" and formed all the matter in the observable cosmos. In other words, the theory offers explanations for several dilemmas that had been perplexing scientists, including how the Bang occurred in the first place, and how it became so unaccountably Big.
If Guth had simply written an up-to-date report summarizing what scientists believed about the Big Bang in 1997, then his book would have fallen by the wayside long ago. Instead, he portrays the wonky disputes and contrasting theories, along with biographical anecdotes showing his own role in the development of "inflationary universe" theory. For Guth and his peers, science isn't filled with "Eureka!" moments; rather, their work is impeded by doubts, by false leads, by mistakes and omissions, and even by job insecurity.
Above all, there is a palpable sense of camaraderie, excitement, and (yes) fun. Towards the end of the book, Guth offers some thoughts on where theoretical physics might be going in future decades, and he examines some of the more speculative solutions to current problems, such as the possible existence of wormholes, or the question of whether the universe has a beginning, or how new universes might be created in a laboratory (a misunderstood subject which has morphed into the urban legend that such experimentation will destroy our own planet).
That's not to say that Guth's survey isn't a challenging read. I imagine his definitions of Higgs fields, quantum tunneling, and false vacuums will perplex the uninitiated; I had to read several sections twice--particularly when the author was trying to describe in English what can only be truly understood in equations. But the effort is worth it. And be sure to read the footnotes; Guth uses them not only to present additional detail but also to recount interesting anecdotes and to share funny asides.
While the author is not shy in touting his own role in these far-flung explorations, neither is he chary of compliments and credit for his colleagues. Steven Weinberg, Andrei Linde, David Wilkinson, So-Young Pi, Robert Dicke, Sheldon Glashow, Jim Peebles, Paul Steinhardt, Michael Turner, Henry Tye--they all get due billing. Their generosity and collegiality gives their vocation a human edge that often seems lacking in scientific accounts.
Guth starts almost at the beginning of modern science by laying a foundation of understanding in conservation laws and fields. His explanation (supported by further information in an appendix) of the negative energy of gravitational fields is clear and intuitive. So clear are his explanations that one hardly seems surprised when Guth introduces Edward Tryon's early speculation that the universe may have originated from a quantum vacuum fluctuation.
Next, Guth develops the idea of an expanding universe, and the flatness problem. His explanation of why the flatness problem is a problem at all is concise and wonderfully illustrated. Throughout all of this, Guth offers a rare glimpse into the workings of science by showing the chaotic effects of unpredictable chance occurrences that lead to that rare insight with its attendant "ahhhh" at the end of discovery. I particularly enjoyed the photographs he included of many key players in the developments of modern cosmology, with a singular exception. There is no photograph of Guth himself [this is my only complaint about the book].
Leading up to the discussion of inflation proper, Guth offers clear and insightful discussions of the discovery of the microwave background radiation. He offers rare insights into the extraordinarily difficult measurements that led to the first discovery, culminating with the superb measurements and confirmation provided by COBE in 1990. As further preparatory information, Guth offers one of the best general-purpose science explanations I've seen for the particles in the standard model, including some very good descriptions of the Higgs particle, which plays a central role in the theory of inflation. Guth is proof that complicated theories can be reduced to simple ideas without losing the essential logical constructs that make them work.
The second half of the book deals with inflation proper. Here, Guth explains how inflation solves the flatness problem, and deals with such things as monopoles, and the nearly uniform background radiation.
The end of the book deals with the aftermath of discovery, and the problems with inflation yet to be ironed out. The author discusses many esoteric possibilities, including percolation of false-vacuum bubbles, event horizons, and pocket universes.
If the origins of the universe excite your intellectual fancy, I highly recommend "The Inflationary Universe."
Guth provides a lot of insight into the life of an ambitious post doctorate in particle physics. Only he is able to tell the story of how he arrived at the idea of inflation. I was surprised to find out that one of his co-workers, Henry Tye, played such an important role, but missed out of becoming one of the authors of inflation because he went away on a trip. One weak point of the book is that wordy paragraphs replace what would normally be equations. These paragraphs are hard to read. Guth probably should have replaced such sections with highly intuitive descriptions or skipped them altogether. A reader can skip these technical sections and enjoy the rest of the book, which is excellent.