The ordinary atoms that make up the known universe—from our bodies and the air we breathe to the planets and stars—constitute only 5 percent of all matter and energy in the cosmos. The rest is known as dark matter and dark energy, because their precise identities are unknown. The Cosmic Cocktail is the inside story of the epic quest to solve one of the most compelling enigmas of modern science—what is the universe made of?—told by one of today’s foremost pioneers in the study of dark matter.
Blending cutting-edge science with her own behind-the-scenes insights as a leading researcher in the field, acclaimed theoretical physicist Katherine Freese recounts the hunt for dark matter, from the discoveries of visionary scientists like Fritz Zwicky—the Swiss astronomer who coined the term “dark matter” in 1933—to the deluge of data today from underground laboratories, satellites in space, and the Large Hadron Collider. Theorists contend that dark matter consists of fundamental particles known as WIMPs, or weakly interacting massive particles. Billions of them pass through our bodies every second without us even realizing it, yet their gravitational pull is capable of whirling stars and gas at breakneck speeds around the centers of galaxies, and bending light from distant bright objects. Freese describes the larger-than-life characters and clashing personalities behind the race to identify these elusive particles.
Many cosmologists believe we are on the verge of solving the mystery. The Cosmic Cocktail provides the foundation needed to fully fathom this epochal moment in humankind’s quest to understand the universe.
Katherine Freese is director of Nordita, the Nordic Institute for Theoretical Physics, in Stockholm, and the George E. Uhlenbeck Professor of Physics at the University of Michigan. She is one of the world’s leading researchers in cosmology and is working to unravel the mystery of dark matter. She splits her time between Stockholm, Ann Arbor, and New York City.
"In The Cosmic Cocktail, Professor Katie Freese offers a gripping first-person account of her life as a cosmologist. The recipe? Part memoir, part tutorial, part social commentary. Shaken, not stirred."--Neil deGrasse Tyson, astrophysicist, host of the television series Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey
"In prose as in life, Katherine Freese is never boring. . . . Clear and accessible . . . The Cosmic Cocktail is an excellent primer for the intrigued generalist, or for those who have spent too much time in particle-physics labs and want to catch up on what cosmologists are up to."--Francis Halzen, Nature
"Freese . . . tells a lively personal tale of her trajectory through the world of science. . . . You end up thinking that being a physicist is certainly important and definitely difficult--but it could also be a lot of fun."--Nancy Szokan, Washington Post
"This book blends two rather different flavours. . . . First is the enormous excitement of working on a front-line problem in science. . . . The other is the great fun Katie has had, and continues to have, being a female physicist. . . . A number of other front-line particle physicists, cosmologists and so forth have also written up their versions of the dark matter story. . . . But none of the other accounts I’ve read is more fun than The Cosmic Cocktail."--Virginia Trimble, Times Higher Education
"This is an important and thought-provoking book."--Shawn Donnan, Financial Times
"Freese's extensive research in this field, and her familiarity with many of the other key researchers in dark matter, helps give The Cosmic Cocktail a human touch: she sprinkles into the book anecdotes from her own career and meetings with other scientists throughout."--Jeff Foust, Space Review
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