(out of print)
These are just a few of the questions addressed on On the Cosmic Horizon. This provocative account aims to help the general reader understand the astronomical stories that will make headlines during the early 21st century. Written by Jeffrey Bennett, an astrophysicist and award-winning teacher from the University of Colorado, On the Cosmic Horizon reaches wide across the cosmos to provide lucid explanations for many of the most compelling cosmic questions. Following a Top Ten countdown, the book explores with wit and clarity each mystery and how it may be resolved. Each enigma is made accessible through a story which draws upon history and everyday human experience. Along the way, we learn about our state-of-the-art understanding of the universe, future missions, and the potential impact of unraveling these cosmic conundrums. On the Cosmic Horizon is the perfect book for anyone who wants to understand astronomical headlines and why they are important.
Praise for On the Cosmic Horizon
[Bennett’s] style is captivating, his explanations and metaphors are illuminating, and he gives his readers a perfect feel for what 21st-century astronomy is all about. — Sky and Telescope
Bennett is skilled at helping the public understand the complexities of modern astrophysics. He interprets modern science where others fear to go, cleverly sorting out a magnitude of mysteries faced by modern astronomers. He selects 10 he considers the most significant, organizing them, not unlike a rocket blasting off for space. — The Rocky Mountain News
"On the Cosmic Horizon approaches the wonders of the universe the way astronomers themselves do — by asking the big questions. The result is a very readable and revealing view of astronomy today." — Dr. John R. Spencer, Lowell Observatory, Flagstaff, Arizona
"This engaging book is about the Big Ten — ten questions about the big picture of the biggest of all things, the Universe. Cleanly and clearly written, the text of this well-illustrated book captures the excitement of the mysteries and the wonders of modern astronomy." — Professor Paul Hodge, University of Washington, Seattle
"Bennett’s 10 mysteries are topics that interest…every thoughtful person." — Professor Virginia Trimble, University of California, Irvine and University of Maryland.
Updates on the Mysteries
Table of Contents
Introduction: The Mysteries Ahead Today’s most compelling scientific questions give us a sense of our past and our future.
Mystery 10: Is There Life Elsewhere in Our Solar System? Discover why Mars was once thought to be inhabited by Martians and why scientists still think it might harbor microbial life. Also learn why scientists looking for life are equally enthusiastic about some of the moons of Jupiter.
Mystery 9: Where Are the Sun’s Neutrinos? Tiny particles striking the Earth in prodigious numbers lie at the heart of one of the deepest mysteries about the Sun – and may also hold the key to some of the deepest mysteries about the universe as a whole.
Mystery 8: What Does the Universe Look Like? Find out how, in the next few years, we may finally learn the truth about the large-scale structure of the Universe.
Mystery 7: How Do Galaxies Evolve? Learn how supermassive black holes power quasars, and how these incredible objects are helping us unravel the mystery of how galaxies are born and how they change with time.
Mystery 6: Are Earth-Like Planets Common? Only a decade ago, no planets beyond our solar system were known; today we know dozens. Learn the secrets of planet-hunting, and of new space missions that may finally tell us whether other Earth-like planets exist.
Mystery 5: What Makes Gamma-Ray Bursts? Explore the mystery of gamma-ray bursts: the most powerful explosions that we have ever witnessed in the cosmos.
Mystery 4: Did the Universe Have a Bout of Inflation? Economists hate inflation, but astronomers love it. Find out why, and explore the question of whether inflation is just a nice idea or something that really happened during the first instant of creation.
Mystery 3: What Is the Fate of the Universe? Robert Frost said the world might end in fire or ice, but a mathematical curiosity that Einstein invented – and then disavowed – might change all that. Find out why and learn what it might mean for our distant descendants.
Mystery 2: What Is the Universe Made Of? There is more to the sky than meets the eye – or even our most powerful telescopes. Find out why astronomers still don’t know what the universe is made of.
Mystery 1: Are We Alone? Is the universe teeming with aliens like those in Star Trek and Star Wars, or are we all alone? Learn how scientists are studying this question, and why its answer may forever change the course of history.