The Universe in the Rearview Mirror: How Hidden Symmetries Shape Reality

The Universe in the Rearview Mirror: How Hidden Symmetries Shape Reality


By (author) Dave Goldberg

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  • Publisher: E P Dutton & Co Inc
  • Format: Hardback | 352 pages
  • Dimensions: 178mm x 231mm x 36mm | 590g
  • Publication date: 2 December 2013
  • Publication City/Country: New York
  • ISBN 10: 0525953663
  • ISBN 13: 9780525953661
  • Edition statement: New.
  • Sales rank: 249,758

Product description

A physicist speeds across space, time and everything in between showing that our elegant universe--from the Higgs boson to antimatter to the most massive group of galaxies--is shaped by hidden symmetries that have driven all our recent discoveries about the universe and all the ones to come. Why is the sky dark at night? Is it possible to build a shrink-ray gun? If there is antimatter, can there be antipeople? Why are past, present, and future our only options? Are time and space like a butterfly's wings? No one but Dave Goldberg, the coolest nerd physicist on the planet, could give a hyper drive tour of the universe like this one. Not only does he answer the questions your stoner friends came up with in college, but he also reveals the most profound discoveries of physics with infectious, Carl Sagan-like enthusiasm and accessibility. Goldberg's narrative is populated with giants from the history of physics, and the biggest turns out to be an unsung genius and Nazi holocaust escapee named Emmy Noether--the other Einstein. She was unrecognized, even unpaid, throughout most of her career simply because she was a woman. Nevertheless, her theorem relating conservation laws to symmetries is widely regarded to be as important as Einstein's notion of the speed of light. Einstein himself said she was "the most significant creative mathematical genius thus far produced since the higher education of women began." Symmetry is the unsung great idea behind all the big physics of the last one hundred years--and what lies ahead. In this book, Goldberg makes mindbending science not just comprehensible but gripping. Fasten your seat belt.

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Author information

DAVE GOLDBERG, an award-winning professor and director of undergraduate studies in the Department of Physics at Drexel University, writes the "Ask a Physicist" column for the popular science site and blogs at He lives in Philadelphia.

Review quote

"Mathematical symmetries lie at the heart of the answers, but Goldberg offers math-free guideposts along the way in this witty and accessible read. Tip: Don't skip the copious footnotes, packed with geek humor." - "Discover " "An informative, math-free, and completely entertaining look at the concept of symmetry in physics...Throughout his fascinating discussion, Goldberg's writing remains accessible and full of humor...Seasoning his expose with pop culture references that range from Doctor Who to Lewis Carroll to Angry Birds, Goldberg succeeds in making complex topics clear with a winning style." - "Publisher's Weekly " "Goldberg delivers relentlessly cheerful but comprehensible explanations of a dozen profound features of the universe." - "Kirkus" "Goldberg has a fine ear for the absurd, and is deft at revealing why things we take for granted, such as the equality of gravitational and inertial mass, are strange and not obvious at's a bit like a kick-ass rollercoaster built through Dwarrowdelf in Middle-earth." - "New Scientist" "Most physics books can't really be described as 'rollicking, ' but most physics books aren't written by Dave Goldberg. This is fun, irreverent, and enjoyable, but also very truthful and illuminating. Buy it for your friend who was always scared of physics, especially if that friend is yourself." - Sean Carroll, theoretical physicist at Caltech, author of "The Particle at the End of the Universe" "This is a fun and fascinating examination of core physics concepts-and which even includes a look at one of physics' unsung heroines, a giant upon whose shoulders many physicists have stood: Emmy Noether!" - Danica McKellar, actress and author of "Math Doesn't Suck" "Unputdownable! This book is tremendous fun for any reader curious about our bizarre and beautiful universe. If only the profound concepts and laws of physics were presented in schools in the clear and fun way Dave Goldberg has i