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Just Six Numbers
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Part of the Science Masters series - bringing together some of the world's finest scientists to explore and explain the key ideas in contemporary science Sir Martin Rees is the Astronomer Royal - the world's leading expert on cosmic evolution Rees has made key contributions on black holes and galaxy formation; he is known for making huge ideas accessible The Phoenix paperback edition has already been reprinted three times 'This short and highly readable book. His prose is as sharp as his logic and he provides the reader with endless food for thought' Evening Standard 'This book is a small miracle of concise explanation and offers even the most scientifically challenged reader a new perspective on our universe' Sunday Times.

About the Author

Sir Martin Rees is Royal Society Research Professor at Cambridge University, and holds the title of Astronomer Royal.

Reviews

Science writer and astronomer Rees summarizes the history of the universe, pointing out that six numbers related to basic physical constants (for example, the relative strengths of the gravitational and electromagnetic attraction) determine how the universe developed. In addition, he shows how, if these numbers were only slightly different, stars and galaxies would not form, complex chemistry would not be possible, and life could not evolve. This raises the interesting philosophical question, Why? One could dismiss the question by saying that, if it were otherwise, we wouldn't be here to ask or that there is some underlying theory as yet unknown that would show that these values must be what they are. However, Rees suggests that these numbers were set shortly after the big bang and could well have been different. Indeed, there may be a multitude of other universes, forever inaccessible to us, in which they are different. Thus, with a huge choice of possible universes, one must exist that could support intelligent beings who can observe and question. Whether one agrees or not with Rees's ideas, his book is recommended for its cogent synopsis of modern cosmologic thought. [BOMC alternate selection.]--Harold D. Shane, Baruch Coll., CUNY Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

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