Suffused with genuine wonder and affection for the beauty of particle physics, How to Love the Universe is an informative and entertaining entry into a challenging field.
Contrary to the implications of its title, How to Love the Universe is the opposite of a manual. Its chapters reflect the beauty of dark matter and photons in words that often verge on poetry. From the astronomical origins of water to the mystery of the ever-expanding universe, Klein touches on several corners of theoretical physics. The resultant general background will not overwhelm newcomers or bore experienced physics buffs.
In the tradition of good essayists everywhere, Klein writes in digestible bursts, each chapter dealing with a new subtopic of theoretical physics and capable of standing on its own. Particularly notable is the author’s versatility. Whether drawing a fictionalized analogy or explaining the relative size of an atomic nucleus, the otherwise complicated subject matter remains accessible.
The author’s love of his vocation and its acolytes is clear from the first chapter. Feynman seems to be a personal hero, though Einstein and several other famous names come up as well. Klein treats these quasi-mythic figures as full people, describing the struggles of Einstein’s early career and the tragedy of Ludwig Boltzmann’s misunderstood genius. The book draws connections between ancient comets and the dew on a rose petal and paints humanity’s curiosity itself as a result of our participation in a vast and dynamic universe. As a result of this approach and the author’s literary skill, the book bears an emotional heft unusual among scientific literature.
How to Love the Universe is likely to have broad appeal. Its breadth will endear it to audiences that read the news about Higgs bosons and gravitational waves but find themselves at a loss about what these phenomena mean to the advancement of the human species.
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