The Inflationary Universe by Alan H. Guth
Finished reading November 6, 2012
Sometimes it’s enough to hear a book mentioned once to go out of my way to try and find and read it. With this book it wasn’t so. I’d heard or seen it mentioned on several occasions and yet, when I finally had the book at an arm’s reach, it stayed there among numerous other books for some months, I suspect that despite everything I still judge a book by its cover and this one doesn’t make you want to grab it and read it at one go.
However now that I’ve finally finished reading it, I have to admit that it’s great despite the fact that even a Quantum Mechanics textbook on my shelf looks more inviting than “The Inflationary Universe”.
The subject for the book, as the title suggests, is the inflation theory, which is a hypothesis that after the initial big bang start for the universe, there was a period of rapid inflation, in which the size of the universe grew exponentially, making it possible for whatever it was that was involved in the big bang to be a lot smaller than in the original big bang theory.
By the way, if you happen to be a fan of the series “The Big Bang Theory” and you’re maybe a little more interested in physics and cosmology than Penny is, then I really recommend reading it. You’ll find some topics that have been mentioned in the series, for example magnetic monopoles.
It covers all the topics necessary for understanding the inflation theory and the road to it – modern cosmology, particle physics and grand unified theories.
I liked it, but I have to warn anyone planning to read “The Inflationary Universe” – it does contain cosmology and particle physics.
It isn’t necessary to understand a lot of mathematics though – it would be difficult to find any equations in the book, but without elementary familiarity with the big bang theory and particle physics, it wouldn’t be easy to read and comprehend. If you’re unsure, read Peter Cole’s “A Very Short Introduction to Cosmology” or something similar before starting on “The Inflationary Universe”.