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Dark Side of the Universe

, 192 pages

120 color photos, 50 color illus.

March 2007



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Dark Side of the Universe

Dark Matter, Dark Energy, and the Fate of the Cosmos

Once we thought the universe was filled with shining stars, dust, planets, and galaxies. We now know that more than 98 percent of all matter in the universe is dark. It emits absolutely nothing yet bends space and time; keeps stars speeding around galaxies; and determines the fate of the universe.

But dark matter is only part of the story. Scientists have recently discovered that the expansion of the universe is speeding up, driven by a mysterious commodity called dark energy. Depending on what dark matter and energy happen to be, our seemingly quiet universe could end its days in a Big Rip, tearing itself apart, or a Big Crunch, collapsing down to a universe the size of nothing, ready to be reincarnated in a Big Bang once again.

For the general reader and armchair astronomer alike, Iain Nicolson’s fascinating account shows how our ideas about the nature and the content of the universe have developed. He highlights key discoveries, explains underlying concepts, and examines current thinking on dark matter and dark energy. He describes techniques that astronomers use to explore the remote recesses of the cosmos in their quest to understand its composition, evolution, and ultimate fate.

Iain Nicolson is a writer, lecturer, and occasional broadcaster on astronomy and space science. A Visiting Fellow of the University of Hertfordshire and a contributing consultant to Astronomy Now, he is a frequent contributor to BBC Television's The Sky at Night. His most recent books include Unfolding Our Universe and Stars and Supernovas.

"A lucid essay on the cosmos—past, present and future—accompanied by clear diagrams, computer graphics and luminous telescopic photos... conveys the excitement of scientists tackling the largest problem yet uncovered."

"Full of lavish illustrations in beautiful colour—though not of course of dark matter and dark energy—it is a first-class overview for the non-specialist, with enough meaty detail for scientists too."

"For the general reader and armchair astronomer alike, Nicolson's fascinating account shows how our ideas about the nature and the content of the universe have developed."

"Not just for college-level science collections strong in astronomy, but for the general-interest lending library catering to non-scientist readers."

"I particularly enjoyed how Nicolson explores topics that take a back seat in the mainstream media."

"Beautifully illustrated... a valuable contribution to popular scientific literature."

"For any reader interested in science, particularly cosmology and physics, Dark Side of the Universe is highly recommended."

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