I took a short, on-line course in cosmology this past month for which Timothy Ferris' book, The Whole Shebang, was the required text. Although I have a strong interest in physics and cosmology, I am by no means what I would call "good" at it. With only a rudimentary understanding of things like quantum mechanics, relativity physics and string theory, I still found the text readable. I felt that it was clearly enough written for the lay person that I was able to recommend it to a friend with little physics background who had enquired about the subject. This was especially the case as the text covers almost every aspect of cosmology, even in its final two chapters the question of God and the universe. Covered also are the concepts of the speed of light and "seeing" the past of the universe, the expansion of the universe and the question of its fate, the first few moments of the universe and the creation of matter, the possibility of other universes, the...
Outstanding book on cosmology for a lay person. He does a wonderful job of describing the history of all the discoveries. Attempts at trying to simplify highly complex and complicated theories in "normal English" will obviously be difficult, so at times, I lost him. But even so, I left the book with a much better understanding of what the issues in contention are.
The publication is more than ten years old and a lot of science has happened in that time. There's not whole lot in this book that hasn't been said before, and if Timothy Ferris has heavy weight scientific credentials I couldn't find them in his bio. BUT ! what Timothy Ferris does do in this book is present some difficult to understand material in a down to earth way that few (if any) heavy weight PhD scientist can. From my point of view Mr. Farris is an outstanding teacher. He may seem a bit wordy in places but stick with him, he has something to say and all those words eventually come to gather in a clear picture. I'm rating it four stars because frankly a book of this caliber deserves second edition. Out dated or not I personally consider this book is worth every minute it takes to read it, and I'm a slow reader. (June, 2010)
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