Edge of the Universe by Paul Halpern

Edge of the Universe review

Science pick-of-the-month fail.

Basically, Edge of the Universe is a non-fiction book tackling some of the biggest questions of the universe, those solved and those we’re still working on. That’s quite a hefty aim for a book – it discusses everything from the big bang to how the universe might end, and all of the stuff in between – dark matter, parallel universes, string theory, black holes, inflation, and a whole lot more. You guys know the science kick I’ve been on – this book should have been right up my alley.

Sadly, it was not. All of these topics were thrown together in a bit of haphazard way, and the author’s tone wasn’t consistent throughout. In parts, his writing was fun, whimsical, and excitable. In many other parts, it was dry, technical, and read like a textbook. Sometimes his analogies were great, sometimes they were more confusing than if he hadn’t used an analogy at all. It varied from chapter to chapter, and honestly even with taking notes, it was kind of hard to follow the author’s train of thought.

To be fair, some of the parts that bored me were on topics I’ve already read about a couple times – such as how we know that the universe is about 13.8 billion years old. So maybe the problem here was more mine – since I already have a bit of a background on a lot of these topics, it seemed redundant sometimes. And the author tended to give a lot of background and history with each topic – he even talked about Erwin Schrödinger’s tendency to cheat on his wife, which while interesting I suppose, was definitely unnecessary and besides the point. I was expecting a bit more of a focus on the science.

Overall… It wasn’t for me. I think that the scope was too broad, and he didn’t have a consistent approach. It just wasn’t what I was looking for, I guess. Paul Halpern does have another book called Collider: The Search for the World’s Smallest Particles that I might try. I have a feeling he might do a better job with a more narrow topic, and I haven’t read a whole book just about the Large Hadron Collider yet (although it will be a bit dated, since it was written in 2010 and the Higgs boson was tentatively confirmed to exist earlier this year).

Sarah Says: 3 stars

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6 comments

  1. Ah, too bad this didn’t work out for you. I know it wouldn’t for me. Science scares me…almost as much as math does 😉

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    1. I’m TERRIBLE at math. I do wish that I had been more into science as a kid though, who knows where that would’ve taken me school and career-wise. Although I really like my life now, so I wouldn’t change it… it’s just fun to think about. I bet in an alternate universe young Sarah TOTALLY loved math and science and grew up to be a scientist 😀

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