Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Before the Big Bang

In all the excitement of moving house I haven't mentioned my new book, Before the Big Bang, which is now available.

It explores the latest theories on the origins of the universe and what came before it, including:
  • Why there is more doubt about the Big Bang theory than is often stated
  • How our current best ideas on the origins of the universe came into being
  • How the universe could have been started by a collision of membranes in multidimensional space
  • Why the Matrix isn’t necessarily all fantasy
  • How the universe could be in a black hole or a hologram
  • How ‘before’ is meaningless in the standard Big Bang theory
  • … and much more.
Here's an extract of a review on Kirkus Reviews:

Excellent popular history of how humans understand the universe... British science writer Clegg (Upgrade Me: Our Amazing Journey to Human 2.0, 2008, etc.) excels in recounting the struggle over our universe’s origin, which most—but not all—agree lies in a vast primeval expansion known as the Big Bang. Readers may roll their eyes as brilliant scientists propose explanations of how the Bang led to the universe we see today, only to confront new, unsettling astronomical phenomena—dark energy, dark matter—that create questions faster than they can be answered. The author emphasizes that, unlike relativity or evolution, Big Bang cosmology is not a coherent system backed by overwhelming evidence but a clumsy, ad hoc premise whose gaps are plugged with theoretical band-aids or simply left open to frustrate scientists. Clegg follows the footsteps of Carl Sagan’s Cosmos, Steven Hawking’s A Brief History of Time and Timothy Ferris’s Coming of Age in the Milky Way. He shares his predecessors’ enthusiasm, eloquence and ability to explain complex ideas but provides a bonus by covering startling developments of the past decade...

See more at my website. The book is available at this Amazon.co.uk page, and this Amazon.com page.

If you'd like to see the latest hot story in this area, take a look at Marcus Chown's excellent piece in New Scientist on the evidence that missing mini-galaxies gives for and against dark matter or modified gravity.


  1. Dear Brian, Have been browsing BTBB,having discovered it on the
    "New Books" shelf here at The Johns
    Hopkins U. (Congrats on its being
    acquisitioned here!)It's overview
    of both the historical and current
    thinking on the topic (but since, as you say at the book's end, the q. remains unsolved, I feel the title is a bit misleading!)makes
    for an easy and interesting read.
    Brian, my own (amateur astronomer's) thinking on the q. has lead me to the following: nothingness is impossible therefore
    somethingness must be. What came before the (alledged) big bang must
    at least be somethingness. Of course, one glich in this is if time began with the BB. Meanwhile,
    for me the "God did it" claim is
    easy to refute. 1) In the whole
    history of science, never has "God
    did it" been required to answer a question. 2) If God created the universe, then who created God? If
    God created God, then its just as well to say the universe created the universe! Brian, I'm glad I found you and intend to follow your blogs. Clear skies! Herman M. Heyn, Baltimore, Md. USA

  2. Hi Herman - thanks for your comments and I'm glad you liked the book.

    What I was trying to do with the title is to emphasize I was trying to go beyond the simple 'what was the Big Bang' - I hope it wasn't too misleading!

    Your 'nothingness is impossible' statement is not dissimilar to the ancient Greek concept of 'nature abhors a vacuum' - but that was a very arbitrary idea. I'm not sure what it is that indicates that 'nothingness is impossible.' I think to be able to argue from that you need to take it a little further and convincingly fill in the blanks in 'nothingness is impossible because...'

    I hope you enjoy the blog. You may also find a couple of my other books interesting - perhaps The God Effect and Infinity. You'll find links to them in the right hand bar in the blog.