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Horizons in Cosmology: Exploring Worlds Seen and Unseen

Templeton Press, 2009
RRP $34.95

Reviewed by Rev Heather den Houting, minister at Kenmore Uniting Church, who is fascinated by the way we hold the conversations between science and theology.

THIS IS an exciting book for anyone who is interested in nature and function of the universe.

Templeton Press aims to publish books that track the relationship between science and religion and Joseph Silk is an eminent astrophysicist who has written extensively in this area. Horizons in Cosmology is good solid stuff and will bring you up to date with recent developments in the area.
For instance, did you know that not only is the universe expanding, but the expansion is actually accelerating as a result of “dark energy”?

You may have heard of wormholes in black holes, but did you know that time travel is theoretically possible through a wormhole (although it might only be one way!). You will also read more about the theories of multiple universes, and that the universe is “flat” and can therefore be measured using Euclidean geometry.

Most fascinating is the struggle to explain the most abundant matter in the universe, named “dark matter” because we haven’t been able to directly locate it (although apparently it is clumpy!).

Mr Silk concludes that we are at a time in physics where our tools, both theories and equipment, are no longer sufficient and there will have to be a leap forward in physics to allow us to explain some of the things being observed. Mr Silk also briefly deals with creationism (it is not supported by the data, while the big bang certainly is) and the more recent discussions about fine tuning of the universe (an anthropic principle, which is troubling territory for cosmologists.)

There is some pretty complex thinking going on about our universe at the moment, and Mr Silk covers a fair bit of it. However, I found that word pictures are not always enough to explain some pretty counter-intuitive stuff, or to illustrate some of the new thinking that opposes what we were taught in high school. More diagrams would have helped me.