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by Lawrence M. Krauss

Examines the work of scientists seeking to prove the existence of an elusive fifth essence, an invisible form of matter which may occupy ninety-percent of the universe
Download The Fifth Essence epub
ISBN: 0465023754
ISBN13: 978-0465023752
Category: Science
Subcategory: Astronomy & Space Science
Author: Lawrence M. Krauss
Language: English
Publisher: Basic Books; First Edition edition (December 26, 1989)
Pages: 342 pages
ePUB size: 1484 kb
FB2 size: 1213 kb
Rating: 4.6
Votes: 653
Other Formats: mbr mobi lit rtf

We are accustomed to having our questions answered. This book discusses a question without giving the answer. The subtitle is The Search For Dark Matter In The Universe. That's right. It's about the search. Reading this book is like spending a few weeks with a flashlight, poking around in the dark. When the last page is done, you still, as U2 sang, haven't found what you're looking for.

Before reading this one, I read a book that told me that the dark matter consisted of Jupiter-sized black holes in space, millions of them, formed in the first fraction of a second after the Big Bang.

This book mentions that possibility but doesn't buy it. The answer here is that the dark matter consists of sub-atomic particles speeding through space, flying through planets and stars without being stopped by them. They also fly right through our skin and bones, constantly. Do I have that right? Who the hell knows.

On the back cover, the author is described as a "superbly clear writer". I wouldn't go that far. Consider the source - another physicist. Clear to him. He knows this stuff already. Clear as mud to me. Well, some of it, anyway.

We now believe that from 90% to 99% of the stuff in the universe is invisible to us and undetectable by our technology. And we think that stuff is ... umm ... chocolate pudding. We're testing for it. Maybe that stuff is heaven. Or maybe the calculations are way off and there is no dark matter, and we shall soon prove that we don't exist.

I was surprised to see how the processes of physics and cosmology seem to work. We fantasize. We imagine. What if ... ummm ... what if there was a particle that was such and such a size and had such and such properties .... would that explain anything? Okay, let's say that it exists, let's call it a floooeyon. Now let's go search for it. This reads like sci fi.

Hey, Henry, I think what happens is that for every particle there is an anti-particle, and when they collide they destroy each other, and there are exactly the same number of particles as anti-particles, but then again there may be 1,000,000,001 particles to every 1,000,000,000 anti-particles, and they all destroyed each other, leaving 1 particle undestroyed, and that particle, multiplied a gazillion times, is what makes the universe.


No, for real. It is a ballooneon. Now if only I could measure the effect that one ballooneon has when it flies through the earth and bangs into a proton in a big vat of orange juice below the surface of the earth, we'd be all set.

One of the strongest impressions you take from this book is just how unimaginably huge the universe is. There are billions of galaxies. With that in mind, it seems that only an absolute fool would believe that this is the only inhabited planet. Instead of thinking that the UFO-believers are loonies, it seems that the UFO-skeptics are the loonies. We are less than a grain of sand in the universe. Of course there are others out there. Otherwise, what are all those billions of galaxies out there for?
I found Krauss's writing about a very difficult and enigmatic subject remarkably accessible. What has to be grasped is that no one -- NO ONE -- knows to any degree of certainty what makes up dark matter, nor how many forms it might take. It is the job of particle physicists and astrophysicists to, yes, speculate about what it could be, come up with a model that just might work, and then try to find ways to quantify and prove that model. New particles are being discovered on a regular basis: just because the concept is beyond our realm of understanding doesn't mean it's "science fiction" or that these discoveries are deserving of scorn because they don't seem to affect our daily lives. Krauss delivers his information in an engaging way that doesn't pander to the lowest common denominator, nor does he shy away from challenging his reader. I found The Fifth Essence to be one of the best examples I've read of science writing for the general public. Cheers!
Just about the right level for me, a science-interested lay person, and clearly written. Good. But why are we - society - wasting all this time and money on seeking knowledge that will never benefit any of us, instead of putting all that talent to work on something useful? And that baloney about 'serendipitous byproducts' ... won't that come out of the more useful research also??
In The Fifth Essence, Lawrence Krauss provides a thorough retelling of the theories relating to dark matter in the Universe. Each example is explained with carefully chosen analogies that are comprehensible to the average academic. While complex and somewhat technical, this collection is well worth the attention of the passionate amateur or professional.