Modern cosmology began a century ago with Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity and his notion of a homogenous, philosophically satisfying cosmos. Cosmology’s Century is the story of how generations of scientists built on these thoughts and many new measurements to arrive at a well-tested physical theory of the structure and evolution of our expanding universe.
In this landmark book, one of the world’s most esteemed theoretical cosmologists offers an unparalleled personal perspective on how the field developed. P. J. E. Peebles was at the forefront of many of the greatest discoveries of the past century, making fundamental contributions to our understanding of the presence of helium and microwave radiation from the hot big bang, the measures of the distribution and motion of ordinary matter, and the new kind of dark matter that allows us to make sense of these results. Taking readers from the field’s beginnings, Peebles describes how scientists working in independent directions found themselves converging on a theory of cosmic evolution interesting enough to warrant the rigorous testing it passes so well. He explores the major advances—some inspired by remarkable insights or perhaps just lucky guesses—as well as the wrong turns taken and the roads not explored. He shares recollections from major players in this story and provides a rare, inside look at how science is really done.
A monumental work, Cosmology’s Century also emphasizes where the present theory is incomplete, suggesting exciting directions for continuing research.
Awards and Recognition
- James Peebles, Co-Winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics
- Finalist for the PROSE Award in Cosmology and Astronomy, Association of American Publishers
"It's hard to imagine anyone better placed to recount the inside story of modern cosmology. . . . For anyone seriously interested in the ways of science and how we came to understand our place in the Universe, this is essential reading."—Giles Sparrow, BBC Sky at Night Magazine
"As expected, the quality is top-notch. . . . [Cosmology's Century] is also very well written. The book is essential reading for anyone interested in the first hundred years of modern cosmology."—Phillip Helbig, The Observatory
"Peebles is the best possible guide to the long and winding road that is the twentieth century's development of understanding the universe. His contributions are right at the center of this tale that now leads reasonable people to think the universe is governed by a tug-of-war between the unseen forces of dark matter and dark energy. Cosmology's Century is a mirror for practitioners and a window for the curious."—Robert P. Kirshner, author of The Extravagant Universe
"A wonderful, rich, and riveting account of the history of modern cosmology by a key player who shaped the field. Peebles writes with characteristic clarity and humility. An absolute must-read for all."—Priyamvada Natarajan, astrophysicist and author of Mapping the Heavens: The Radical Scientific Ideas That Reveal the Cosmos
"Peebles is universally admired among cosmologists as one of the true greats of our time, able to navigate between the abstractions of relativity and the realism of astronomy. As only Peebles could, he carries us from the discovery of a big bang to the precipice of a far future of continued exploration in an enthralling yet knowable cosmos."—Janna Levin, author of Black Hole Blues and Other Songs from Outer Space
"Peebles oﬀers a remarkable account of how, over the course of a century, researchers in several disparate areas of physics, astronomy, and cosmology pursued questions about the nature and evolution of the universe. Cosmology's Century is a welcome and valuable tour of a fascinating intellectual adventure."—David Kaiser, author of How the Hippies Saved Physics: Science, Counterculture, and the Quantum Revival
"A century of big ideas and powerful instruments has led us to the current model of our universe, with its inflationary beginning, cosmic structure built by the gravity of dark-matter particles, and accelerated expansion caused by dark energy. Cosmology's Century is a firsthand account of that remarkable period by Jim Peebles, who led this grand adventure with his manifold contributions and broad influence. A must-read for any serious student of cosmology."—Michael S. Turner, Kavli Foundation and University of Chicago
"Jim Peebles has surely contributed more to the history of our understanding of the large-scale structure and evolution of the universe than anyone else still in a position to write about it; so written about it he has, and magnificently!"—Virginia Trimble, Former President, International Astronomical Union, Division of Galaxies and the Universe
"An inspiring history of cosmic ideas."—Joseph Silk, author of The Infinite Cosmos: Questions from the Frontiers of Cosmology
"Peebles offers a broad and deep description of cosmology, presenting the history of the field as well as many of the side turns, dead ends, and wrong paths that researchers explored along the way. I really enjoyed reading this book."—David W. Hogg, New York University