Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Review: Bang!: The Complete History of the Universe, by Brian May, Sir Patrick Moore and Chris Lintott

Occasionally I veer away from my usual genres of classical history, fantasy and sci-fi and buy something completely different. One of my favourite science books is Bang!.

The three authors take the reader through the universe’s life, from its earliest beginning at the Big Bang to the present day, ending with the various theories regarding the death of the universe.

I’m not well-versed at all in this sort of thing, and was pleased to find that, with one or two minor exceptions, the contents were pretty easy to understand. It’s a good book for someone who isn’t an expert but might be interested in the universe and how it came about.

The book is hefty in size and festooned with excellent photographs and diagrams that either illustrate scientific principles or simply show how staggeringly beautiful the universe is.

The most interesting part of Bang!, for me, was the immediate aftermath of the Big Bang, which was something I had no idea about and enjoyed reading. The mind-boggling strangeness of the concepts involved (such as time not existing before the Big Bang and the huge loss of mass our sun undergoes every second) are a little bizarre, as is the strange truth that we can literally see the past when we look to the skies.

Over the course of the book the focus shifts from the Big Bang through the mass of the universe to our particular planet. It’s a little odd to read about history in this way, but the three authors do an excellent job of combining high science with simple and understandable writing.

The copy I’ve got is a hardback, second edition, as the writers updated it to take account of fresh discoveries.

It’s not my usual sort of fare, but Bang!: The Complete History of the Universe is an easy-to-read and enjoyable foray into the mysteries of the universe strewn with excellent photography. And one of the writers played guitar for Queen. What more could you ask for?


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