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 the George E. Uhlenbeck Professor of Physics at the University of Michigan. She is one of the world’s leading researchers into the mystery of dark matter. She splits her time between Ann Arbor and New York City.
"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
"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
"Physicist Katherine Freese drinks deep of her life's adventures and cosmic mysteries alike in her captivatingly frank book The Cosmic Cocktail. Why do tales of major scientific endeavours, told from the viewpoint of a single participant, rarely make captivating reading? Frankly, because few scientists are that interesting to the general public, and fewer still possess the trick of passionate engagement. Luckily, The Cosmic Cocktail is an exception. . . . The Cosmic Cocktail is a refreshingly honest account of a frontier field where the author's enthusiasm and sense of fun shine through every page."--Marcus Chown, New Scientist
"Check out The Cosmic Cocktail to get an exciting look at the forefront of astrophysics!"--Astro Guyz blog
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