The Biggest Ideas in the Universe

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**Sean Carroll** is Homewood Professor of Natural Philosophy at
Johns Hopkins University, and Fractal Faculty at the Santa Fe
Institute. He is host of the Mindscape podcast, and author of From
Eternity to Here, The Particle at the End of the Universe, The Big
Picture, and Something Deeply Hidden. He has been awarded
prizes and fellowships by the National Science Foundation, NASA,
the American Institute of Physics, the Royal Society of London, and
many others. He lives in Baltimore with his wife, writer Jennifer
Ouellette.

“What is most appealing in this ambitious book is its combination
of technical accuracy and lightness of tone…reader-friendly…the
scientific and mathematical aspects of the book are
impeccable.”

—The Wall Street Journal

“Reading The Biggest Ideas in the Universe is like taking an
introductory physics class with a star professor—but with all of
the heady lectures and none of the tedious problem sets…For those
without the [STEM] background, [the result] might feel like a
porthole into another world.”

—Scientific American

“Sean Carroll shows… that the essence of physics, including its
fundamental equations, can be made accessible to anyone equipped
with no more than high school math. Carroll is an accomplished
science writer, a talent with few peers… The Biggest Ideas in the
Universe brings science dissemination to a new level. In doing so,
the biggest and most consequential idea in Carroll’s trilogy might
well be that substantive discussions about science can ultimately
be had by everyone.”

—Science

“Neat, and extremely simple: only a deep thinker such as Sean
Carroll could introduce the complexity of Einstein’s general
relativity in such a luminous and straightforward manner.”

—Carlo Rovelli, author of There Are Places in the World Where Rules
Are Less Important Than Kindness and Seven Brief Lessons on
Physics

“Sean Carroll is a wizard of empathy. In this short book, the first
of three on The Biggest Ideas in the Universe, he anticipates
what’s always confused you about physics and then gently guides you
to enlightenment… and ultimately, to newfound wonder.”

—Steven Strogatz, professor of applied mathematics, Cornell
University, author of The Joy of X and Infinite Powers

“As a ten-year-old physics enthusiast, I would have loved The
Biggest Ideas in the Universe. With this book, Sean Carroll
rejects traditional elitism in physics and welcomes in anyone who
knows only a little algebra but wants to understand the whole
universe. Carroll, who has long been one of my role models for
exposition about the cosmos, dreams of a world where physics is hot
gossip. With this book, he takes an important step toward making
this idea a reality by giving people the tools they need so they
too can understand the biggest ideas—and questions—in the universe.
I can’t wait to hear that people are arguing about beyond standard
model physics at the Thanksgiving dinner table!”

—Chanda Prescod-Weinstein, author of The Disordered Cosmos: A
Journey into Dark Matter, Spacetime, and Dreams Deferred

“Sean Carroll's greatest gift isn't that he's an expert on the
fundamentals of physics, which he is, but that he never speaks down
to his reader. He assumes that anyone, even the uninitiated, can
learn to understand the formulae that underlie complicated
concepts like space and time. It is a pleasure to read his work, a
greater pleasure still to get a world-class education from such a
witty, thoughtful teacher.”

—Annalee Newitz, author of The Future of Another Timeline and Four
Lost Cities

“Do popular books about physics leave you feeling that you’re just
getting stories and not real science? If so, this is the book for
you. In a clear and non-scary way, it explains the mathematical
theories behind what physicists really think. Carroll’s trilogy
will plug a big gap in how physics is communicated to
non-specialists—and to judge from this first volume, will do so
brilliantly.”

—Philip Ball, author of Beyond Weird: Why Everything You
Thought You Knew about Quantum Physics Is Different

“Sean Carroll has achieved something I thought impossible: a bridge
between popular science and the mathematical universe of working
physicists. Magnificent!”

—Brian Clegg, author of Ten Days in Physics that Shook the
World

“Sean Carroll has produced a guide to relativity theory for the
21st century, plugging the gap between popularisations that
emphasise the oddities without giving the facts, and textbooks that
train students to manipulate equations without providing insight
into what it all means. He will open your eyes to the way
physicists view the universe, making fundamental ideas accessible
without the need for a degree in science, but bravely ignoring the
old adage that adding equations will scare readers off. Don’t be
scared; this is the best lay-person’s guide to the subject, written
in an accessible, entertaining style and impeccably accurate. And
the author promises to tackle quantum theory next! I can’t
wait.”

—John Gribbin, senior honorary research fellow in astronomy,
University of Sussex

“Carroll takes readers on a remarkable journey through some of the
most important ideas in the field and lays out how those ideas
become manifest in mathematical form. It’s a bold move, and through
it Carroll is able to take his readers on a much deeper exploration
of foundational notions like force, motion, and momentum than other
books manage.... If you are interested in physics, you should read
this book. It can open a window through which your view of the
Universe will be richer, subtler, and way more awesome.”

—Big Think

“If you are trying to find a short treatment of the key ideas of
physics that is genuinely accessible to pretty much anyone with a
high school math background... Sean’s two big strengths are an
easy, informal manner of exposition and a gift for focusing on the
physics and not letting the reader get lost in the weeds. The
Biggest Ideas in the Universe exemplifies Einstein’s quote that
everything should be made as simple as possible, but no
simpler.”

—3 Quarks Daily

“I simply love it... Carroll is aware that you need to
understand the math to truly comprehend the physics that underpins
our greatest brainchildren. He diligently explains the concept of
infinitesimal changes, for example, so that readers understand why
Isaac Newton had to (co)invent calculus to explain planetary
orbits. Over the course of the book, readers go from learning how
to take a derivative to gaining an appreciation of the metric
tensor that describes spacetime.”

—Seyda Ipek, Carleton University, Physics Today

“Anyone who is interested in fundamental physics is encouraged to
read this book, especially young people interested in studying
physics because they will get an excellent idea of the type of
physical arguments they will encounter at university. Those who
think their mathematical background isn’t sufficient will likely
learn many new things, even though the later chapters are quite
technical. And if you are at the other end of the spectrum, such as
a working physicist, you will find the philosophical discussions of
familiar concepts and the illuminating arguments included to elicit
physical intuition most useful.”

—Martin Bauer, University of Durham, CERN

“No-nonsense, not-dumbed-down explanations of basic laws of the
universe that reward close attention.”

—Kirkus

“One-of-a-kind…Carroll flips the script and illuminates the form
and beauty underlying a discipline that helps us understand all
that exists.”

—Booklist

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