Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Review - The Collapsing Universe by Isaac Asimov

Short review: Asimov explains the basics of cosmology.

Atoms, planets, stars
Neutron stars, black holes, white holes
Are cosmology

Full review: The Collapsing Universe is a nonfiction Asimov work that focuses on the birth, life, and death of stars, explains the creation and physics of black holes, and discusses the birth and potential death of the universe. Asimov's straightforward writing style, which can be a hindrance when he writes fiction, works to the book's benefit here, as the concepts, ideas, and facts are presented in a clear and easy to follow manner.

Though the book was published in the 1970s, and scholarship concerning the subject matter of the book has changed in some ways, the fundamentals of the field have not. As this book doesn't seek to do more than educate the readers on those fundamentals, the science discussed by and large remains accurate. Those who are already well-versed in physics won't find anything new or particularly insightful here: Asimov's science books were mostly intended to introduce an untrained person to the field and educate them to a reasonable understanding of the subject. The book is very math-light, as befits the introductory nature of the book.

For someone who wants a decent, non-math intensive introduction to cosmology this book would be an excellent resource. For someone already knowledgeable in the field, it would be nothing more than a diversion. If you have studied cosmology before, you can give this a pass. If you want an introduction to the subject, this book is a good way to start.

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