The Universe, the Eleventh Dimension, and Everything: What We Know and How We Know It

The Universe, the Eleventh Dimension, and Everything: What We Know and How We Know It

The Universe, the Eleventh Dimension, and Everything: What We Know and How We Know It

The Universe, the Eleventh Dimension, and Everything: What We Know and How We Know It

Synopsis

From the formation of the universe to the theory of matter to life on earth, Richard Morris delivers a clear and concise picture of what we know, how we know it, and what the limits to future knowledge might be.

Excerpt

Anyone who reads a book on cosmology these days is likely to encounter a great deal of talk about speculative theories. the authors who write on the subject generally devote a lot of space to such matters as alternate universes, cosmic wormholes, the origin of the universe as a quantum fluctuation, and the physical processes that were taking place when the universe was 10 (a hundred-millionth of a billionth of a billionth of a billionth) seconds old.

Much of this speculation is extremely interesting. Indeed, I have written about it at length myself. However, it has occurred to me that there might be a place for a description of what we know about the universe with something like 99 percent confidence or better. Scientific knowledge advances rapidly these days, and most books that deal with research at the frontiers of physics and cosmology become out of date in less than five years. Thus it might be interesting to describe the scientific knowledge that is not likely to be overthrown in the immediate or intermediate future.

The matters that I will discuss are not speculation; they are based on solid observational evidence. We know, for example, that there was a big bang. There are a number of different kinds of evidence that support this theory of the origin of the universe, and it is not likely that they could be explained away. Furthermore, scientists know what the universe was like back to a time of about one second after it was created. Certain kinds of atomic nuclei exist today that could only have been created in the early universe. It is possible to measure the quantities of these nuclei that are present, not only in our solar system, but also in distant galaxies. This gives us information about what conditions must have been like when those galaxies were formed. We . . .

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