Review: Universe on a T-shirt
by Jeff Foust
|The continued pursuit for a Theory of Everything will doubtless continue to shape space science and astronomy spacecraft missions for decades to come.|
A book as short as Universe on a T-Shirt—less than 250 pages when taking endnotes and the index into account—suggests that it will be short on technical details, and that is the case here. Instead, Falk has focused on the people who made the critical advances over the centuries. These are people familiar to anyone with a passing familiarity with physics: Kepler, Galileo, Newton, Maxwell, Planck, and, of course, Einstein, among many others. The book is written at a level that the interested layman can understand, although by the end of the book, with a discussion of topics like p-branes and M-theory, will likely leave some readers wanting more information, and others just befuddled. That is not necessarily a limitation of the author but instead reflects the increasing mathematical nature of physics, a topic Falk touches upon late in the book.
The topic of a Theory of Everything might seem a little disconnected from space. However, observations of the universe from the ground and, more recently, by spacecraft, have generated evidence that have shaped efforts to craft such a theory. Earlier this year, NASA launched the Gravity Probe B spacecraft on a mission to experimentally verify Einstein’s model of general relativity. The continued pursuit for a Theory of Everything will doubtless continue to shape space science and astronomy, and the spacecraft missions associated with them, for decades to come. For those looking for an introduction—or refresher—on this search for the ultimate physics theory, Universe on a T-Shirt is a good place to start.