How the Universe Got Its Spots: Diary of a Finite Time in a Finite Space

How the Universe Got Its Spots: Diary of a Finite Time in a Finite Space

How the Universe Got Its Spots Diary of a Finite Time in a Finite Space Is the universe infinite or just really big With this question the gifted young cosmologist Janna Levin not only announces the central theme of her intriguing and controversial new book but establish

  • Title: How the Universe Got Its Spots: Diary of a Finite Time in a Finite Space
  • Author: Janna Levin Oksana Kushnir
  • ISBN: 9781400032723
  • Page: 428
  • Format: Paperback
  • Is the universe infinite or just really big With this question, the gifted young cosmologist Janna Levin not only announces the central theme of her intriguing and controversial new book but establishes herself as one of the most direct and unorthodox voices in contemporary science For even as she sets out to determine how big really big may be, Levin gives us an intimIs the universe infinite or just really big With this question, the gifted young cosmologist Janna Levin not only announces the central theme of her intriguing and controversial new book but establishes herself as one of the most direct and unorthodox voices in contemporary science For even as she sets out to determine how big really big may be, Levin gives us an intimate look at the day to day life of a globe trotting physicist, complete with jet lag and romantic disturbances.Nimbly synthesizing geometry, topology, chaos and string theories, Levin shows how the pattern of hot and cold spots left over from the big bang may one day reveal the size and shape of the cosmos She does so with such originality, lucidity and even poetry that How the Universe Got Its Spots becomes a thrilling and deeply personal communication between a scientist and the lay reader.

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      Posted by:Janna Levin Oksana Kushnir
      Published :2019-06-01T15:12:43+00:00

    498 Comment

    This book is pretty easy to read. There is some geometry but almost no formulas; the reading level is like Scientific American. The author is a master of making a complex subject easy to understand with analogies and simple diagrams. The book is structured as a series of letters to the author’s mother and the author intersperses personal details of her friends and love life. She is constantly shifting residences as she migrates between cities in California and England. (She's at Columbia now.) [...]

    In short: Janna Levin explains scientific theory so well that she may have just changed my freakin life. I'm kidding. Kind of. But we'll get there.First Dimension: this is an exceptionally lucid piece of writing. Levin, a cosmologist who here argues for a finite universe, traces the lineage of her theory with remarkable logic & clarity -- remarkable, because for the first time, I sort of understand general relativity. No really guys; this is big. I love reading pop-science, but there are mom [...]

    My family has a joke that there are three kinds of math: Math, hard math and math that will make you cry. I for one crashed and burned spectacularly on the easy end of hard math. But this doesn’t mean that I don’t want to know about math that will make you cry. Janna Levin is great at taking complex/mind bending mathematics and explain the theory and idea behind it without actually using math. She explains it with passion and intelligence and acknowledgement of her own limitations and the li [...]

    You might have come across Janna Levin's How the Universe Got Its Spots the same way that I did—by seeing it show up in io9's "20 Science Books Every Scifi Fan (and Writer) Should Read", or some such similar list of "must read" science books. Of Levin's book, io9's Annalee Newitz writes:Levin is a physicist who studies the origins of the universe, and is also a writer whose language is both clear and poetic. Something about cosmology invites poetic meditations, and Levin manages to combine som [...]

    If the title sounds clever and you're not sure why, it's a play on Rudyard Kipling's tale of "How the Leopard Got Its Spots." The answer to that question is mentioned in passing in this book: there is differentiation in the concentration of chemicals bathing the leopard's skin in utero. The universe also has spots, which is to say that there is some lumpiness (although not nearly so much as you would think from your day-to-day experience) in the cosmic stuff still spewing "away" (kind of) from t [...]

    Originally published on my blog here in October 2002.It is not, generally speaking, usual for modern science books to be concerned with the private lives of their authors, even though it is inevitable that the scientific work that they have done will have been influenced by this. This is a result of the idea that scientific ideas should be valid without any cultural context, but the anecdotes which litter popular science books demonstrate how important some subjectivity is for interesting the re [...]

    (Review from 2011) I have missed reading cosmology! Levin does the obligatory catching-the-reader-up-to-speed that every book on theoretical physics must dutifully accomplish, but she doesn't approach her review in the usual linear way, which was refreshing. So much information here, both history of science and new-ish as of 2000-2002 (dark matter or dark energy not discussed). Maybe Levin is not the most elegant writer of science for non-scientists, but she's not bad, and what she reveals about [...]

    When I started this book, I really loved how it was a mashup of the author's personal life and the science she was studying. After a while, I felt almost carsick. Strange reaction, I know. I don't know how else to describe it. I wanted to learn about the science, so badly, and I also wanted to know about her personal life. Somehow, I kept getting a headache when the two were meshed. I am not sure why this happened. After all, I have loved biographies of various scientists-- e.g. Curie, Einstein, [...]

    This is a very strange book!It's like someone cut pages from a physics text on topology, and glued them into a 13 year old girl's diary.The stuff about topology is interesting, if a bit speculative.Still, the one obvious issue the author avoids is that space is very clearly observed to be negatively curved.It's fun and games to imagine a flat spacetime, but such a thing doesn't exist. Evidence refutes it.This is really an endeavor in mathematical curiosity, not physics.The author seems obsessed [...]

    Extremely readable, surprisingly personal popular physics book, with insight into both theoretical physics and the life of a physicist. Definitely recommend.

    A bit over my head at times, but generally an accessible and absorbing approach to cosmology. The threads about insanity and the personal experience of astrophysics border on profound.

    How the Universe Got Its Spots is either the most unusual science book I've ever read, or the most science-oriented memoir. I found both aspects delightful. Levin, a no-nonsense, for-real, theoretical cosmologist grapples with, among other things, the shape of the universe, her acknowledgedly irrational preference for it to be finite, and a relationship with a bluegrass musician and instrument maker. There's some remarkably lucid writing about some seriously head-scratching topics like joining t [...]

    This book is in the form of a series of unsent letters by the author to her mother about the shape of the universe. I don’t know why Levin thought this would be a good format for a pop-science book. Every chapter starts with a paragraph or two about her personal life, and then she abruptly goes back to relativity and quantum and topology. It’s all confusing. She shares details about her life that make you think: why are you telling us this stuff in this book? Like: she mentions in passing th [...]

    A nicely put diary of two universe's; Levin's & the cosmic one.Suggested for readers of all levels. It serves as a great introductory text that provides a summary of the work of the universe, those who study [ like physicists and cosmologists :] and time.Being in the form of a diary it was a great first-time experience, specially as a science-based text.Moreover it provides an idea of how a physicist or cosmologist is just another person living a normal [ rarely beyond normal :] & proble [...]

    Great book. Unsent letters to her mom that's an explanation of her field and the costs of depression/gloominess from staring into the abyss, and getting it right.Very entertaining and lively. Worth the price of having to keep up!You won't get lost in wonky details; not like science people who lose track of layperson life.(Although, endearingly, the name Jean-Luc "Goddard" is misspelled, as it slipped by the copy-editor; worlds apart! Tycho Brahe's name is spelled right, of course, ha-ha.)

    If you hate science, can't wrap your head around quantum physics, and don't care about the size of the universe, this book will change your opinions (or lack thereof) on all of these subjects and subsequently, the way you look at your world. Interspersed with poetic personal narrative and insights into the lives of the world's most amazing scientific minds, the book poses the theory that the universe is actually a finite space. It took me ten minutes to read and re-read and digest each page, and [...]

    Started as a series of letters to her mom, How the Universe Got Its Spots turned into Janna Levin's diary of her life as a scientist out to determine the size of the cosmos. Levin poetically mixes fascinating scientific details with personal anecdotes. A charming and highly readable account of modern-day physics. Ann, Powellspowells/cgi-bin/biblio

    Good meditation on topology, cosmology, infinty, and a life in science. I liked the strange loop. I don't know if there were answers in here. There were a few fantastic quotes/lines, and it was a worthwhile read.

    Outstanding!Kitchen table quantum physics by a brilliant young physicist, plus a parallel personal love story.Another gem of a "find" from that Little Free Library (charter #2278) in Duluth, on East Skyline Drive at Chester Creek. Just TRY wrapping your mind around some of her topics. You will feel your brain stretch and warp and grow new neurons. Loved it.

    An amazing book--few books that relate information are also just such a good experience. The author intertwines personal experiences with her pursuit of a deeper understanding of the universe in a way that makes one appreciate the universe, humankind, and the author more deeply.

    Janna writes with passion and emotion and also intelligently about what she loves - whether it is Warren or Astrophysics. Gotta love it!

    Spoiler Alert! This is a review and summary. They're intertwined in my head. Janna levin is an astrophysicist in her 40’s (guessing by the photos). She studies topology as an effort to understand if the universe is finite. She is also a human. This book covers both of those things in equal measure. Early on in the book, Levin recounts the stories of several famous mathematicians Pythagoras, Cantor, Turing. Their stories were not new to me, but each of them committed suicide. That was a strikin [...]

    Everyone is taught that the universe is infinite but Levin questions this assumption by posing the alternative: What if the universe is simply really, really big? Just like how people thought that the Earth was flat before it was discovered that its a globe, could it be that the universe is actually finite and that if we travel in a straight line far enough, we would end up where we started?Levin's argument isn't just a hypothetical premise built on nothing; in fact she does suggest a few possib [...]

    If you're interested in scientifically-based philosophical ideas about space and time and, well, everything, and want to go into more depth than the shows you might see on the Science Channel or Discovery Channel, this is worth the read. It explains spacetime, discusses the finiteness (or infiniteness) of the universe, the big bang, light, matter, black holes, and things of that nature. Levin is very honest about everything; she lays it all on the table, tells you when she doesn't fully understa [...]

    Janna Levin's How the Universe Got Its Spots (2002) is a personal, at times melancholy, account of one physicist's quest to understand whether the universe is finite. The book weaves diary-type entries on Levin's personal and professional life with an account of the formation of the cosmos.In particular, Levin explores the difference between the geometry of space vs its topology, and the implications that holds for the central question of the size of the universe. Levin explains that geometry is [...]

    This is perhaps one of the more interesting approaches to a book on the universe that I've read and it brings a somewhat personal touch to it. I listened to the audiobook version of this book and some of the analogies are theories are downright fascinating. A coincidence then too that I also finished this book a day after the announcement that gravitational waves had been experimentally discovered and one of the topics in this very book.Overall I enjoyed the book however I'd say it wasn't as eng [...]

    After listening to an interview with Janna Levin on the NPR program Speaking of Faith, I became interested in reading her books. Levin is an astrophysicist and author interested in sharing her interest in topics from quantum mechanics to a Theory of Everything.[return][return]In the book How the Universe Got Its Spots, Levin uses a diary/letter style to explain contemporary theoretical physics in a way that is accessible to a layperson like me. She weaves the science through stories from everyda [...]

    I'm going to quote another reviewer's reaction to this book because I think it accurately captures my own: "[this book] is either the most unusual science book I've ever read, or the most science-oriented memoir". The other reviewer went on to say how much he enjoyed the book however I have to turn away from that path and say that this book was somewhat difficult for me to read.It was tough for me to keep straight her anecdotes and memories that seemed almost drug-induced. The whole time I read [...]

    Tim asked me about the books I'm reading. I mentioned Jana Levin's 'How the Universe got its Spots.' I talked to Jaya about infinity. He was telling us about a Black hole program he saw on NOVA. I tell them about big Infinity and little infinity. Jaya said that down at the mini level, there is just air, void. This theory of negative number and smaller units supports that. Even before these scientific discoveries, the ancient Taoist, Christian, Hindus and others claim the void, emptiness. Particu [...]

    OK ,,,,, but: I thought it was going to be about cosmology in general. Instead it's almost entirely devoted to how TOPOLOGY helps in the search for:1) reasonable theories concerning the size and shape of the universe2) same for the question of Big Bang vs. alternative ways we might have arrived at where we are now3) ways to best interpret actual & experimental data4) ways to best ask the astronomy and astrophysics establishments for new earth-based, sattelite-based, and spacecraft-dedicated [...]

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