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The Cosmic Web:
Mysterious Architecture of the Universe
J. Richard Gott

Winner of the 2017 PROSE Award in Cosmology & Astronomy, Association of American Publishers
One of Symmetry Magazine’s Physics Books of 2016

Paperback | June 2018 | $19.95 | £14.95 | ISBN: 9780691181172
272 pp. | 6 1/8 x 9 1/4 | 16 color + 44 b/w illus.
Hardcover | 2016 | $29.95 | £24.95 | ISBN: 9780691157269
272 pp. | 6 x 9 1/4 | 16 color illus. 4 halftones. 40 line illus.
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J. Richard Gott was among the first cosmologists to propose that the structure of our universe is like a sponge made up of clusters of galaxies intricately connected by filaments of galaxies—a magnificent structure now called the "cosmic web" and mapped extensively by teams of astronomers. Here is his gripping insider's account of how a generation of undaunted theorists and observers solved the mystery of the architecture of our cosmos.

The Cosmic Web begins with modern pioneers of extragalactic astronomy, such as Edwin Hubble and Fritz Zwicky. It goes on to describe how, during the Cold War, the American school of cosmology favored a model of the universe where galaxies resided in isolated clusters, whereas the Soviet school favored a honeycomb pattern of galaxies punctuated by giant, isolated voids. Gott tells the stories of how his own path to a solution began with a high-school science project when he was eighteen, and how he and astronomer Mario Jurič measured the Sloan Great Wall of Galaxies, a filament of galaxies that, at 1.37 billion light-years in length, is one of the largest structures in the universe.

Drawing on Gott’s own experiences working at the frontiers of science with many of today’s leading cosmologists, The Cosmic Web shows how ambitious telescope surveys such as the Sloan Digital Sky Survey are transforming our understanding of the cosmos, and how the cosmic web holds vital clues to the origins of the universe and the next trillion years that lie ahead.

J. Richard Gott is professor of astrophysics at Princeton University. His books include Time Travel in Einstein's Universe: The Physical Possibilities of Travel through Time. He lives in Princeton Junction, New Jersey.


"With an insider's insight and a storyteller's eye for detail, Gott . . . explores the ways scientists have worked to reveal the large-scale structure of our universe. . . . Mixing accessible science with entertaining anecdotes and personal stories, Gott offers a thorough, vivid, and fascinating look at the cosmic web that makes up our universe."--Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"The Cosmic Web is not just a well-told story about the frontiers of cosmological knowledge. It is also an inspiration to explore them further."--Michael Blanton, Nature

"Weaving together personal anecdotes with physics and math, Princeton astrophysicist J. Richard Gott's The Cosmic Web chronicles the nearly 100-year quest to understand the anatomy of the universe. . . . Gott brings detailed insight to how our view of the cosmos has changed, providing a thorough accounting of how cosmologists arrived at these revelations."--Christopher Crockett, Science News

"[M]ust reading for anyone interested in cosmology and the universe's large-scale structure. [The Cosmic Web] is a magnificent achievement."--David Eicher, Astronomy Magazine

"With a style that's rich in fascinating detail, and bolstered by personal memories and anecdotes, The Cosmic Web delivers everything we need in a book on this subject."--Alastair Gunn, BBC Sky at Night Magazine

"An extraordinary book guiding the reader through the large scale of the Universe and the structure scientists encounter whilst looking at the Universe as a whole."--Read about Science

"I enjoyed this book hugely. It should be on the shelf of anyone who is intrigued by why the Universe looks the way it does."--Alan Longstaff, Astronomy Now

More reviews

Table of Contents:

Acknowledgments ix
Preface xi
Chapter 1. Hubble Discovers the Universe 1
Chapter 2. Zwicky, Clusters of Galaxies, and the Discovery of Dark Matter 28
Chapter 3. How Clusters Form and Grow—Meatballs in Space 41
Chapter 4. The Great Void in Boötes—A Swiss Cheese Universe 64
Chapter 5. Inflation 79
Chapter 6. A Cosmic Sponge 103
Chapter 7. A Slice of the Universe—the Great Wall of Geller and Huchra 135
Chapter 8. Park’s Simulation of the Universe 144
Chapter 9. Measuring the Cosmic Web—the Sloan Great Wall 155
Chapter 10. Spots in the Cosmic Microwave Background 180
Chapter 11. Dark Energy and the Fate of the Universe 193
Notes 227
References 235
Index 245

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