Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Jeremiah P. Ostriker & Simon Mitton's "Heart of Darkness"

Jeremiah P. Ostriker is professor of astrophysical sciences at Princeton University. His books include Formation of Structure in the Universe and Unsolved Problems in Astrophysics. Simon Mitton is affiliated research scholar in the history and philosophy of science and a fellow of St. Edmund's College, University of Cambridge. His books include Fred Hoyle: A Life in Science and The Young Oxford Book of Astronomy.

They applied the “Page 99 Test” to their new book, Heart of Darkness: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Invisible Universe, and reported the following:
Page 99 of Heart of Darkness says this:
The Steady State Model Universe and the Big Bang

The year 1948 saw a shake-up in cosmological thinking because of the publication of the steady state theory by the Cambridge trio: Hermann Bondi, Thomas Gold, and Fred Hoyle. In the developing standard picture the universe expands and, although the details were not clear, it must expand from an explosive event before which time and space had no meaning. Hoyle thought this was absurd and in violation of every physical law that was known. The steady state theory was the antidote that he proposed. This theory, in its time a rival to the Lemaître picture, postulated that the universe does not evolve, but on the largest scales looks more or less the same, no matter what the location or epoch of the observer. How does one avoid in this picture the thinning out of the matter density as the universe expands and the associated heat death? A new law of physics was postulated; the expansion of the universe would be compensated by the continuous creation of matter to fill the expanding voids.
This certainly does correspond to the assertion of Ford Madox Ford.

Heart of Darkness describes the incredible saga of humankind's quest to unravel the deepest secrets of the universe. Over the past thirty years, scientists have learned that two little-understood components--dark matter and dark energy--comprise most of the known cosmos, explain the growth of all cosmic structure, and hold the key to the universe's fate. The story of how evidence for the so-called "Lambda-Cold Dark Matter" model of cosmology has been gathered by generations of scientists throughout the world is told in Heart of Darkness.

From humankind's early attempts to comprehend Earth's place in the solar system, to astronomers' exploration of the Milky Way galaxy and the realm of the nebulae beyond, to the detection of the primordial fluctuations of energy from which all subsequent structure developed, this book explains the physics and the history of how the current model of our universe arose and has passed every test hurled at it by the skeptics. Throughout this rich story, an essential theme is emphasized: how three aspects of rational inquiry--the application of direct measurement and observation, the introduction of mathematical modeling, and the requirement that hypotheses should be testable and verifiable--guide scientific progress and underpin our modern cosmological paradigm.

The story is far from complete, however, as scientists confront the mysteries of the ultimate causes of cosmic structure formation and the real nature and origin of dark matter and dark energy.
Learn more about Heart of Darkness at the Princeton University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue