The Whole Truth: A Cosmologist’s Reflections on the Search for Objective Reality

Princeton Univ. Jun. 2022. 272p. ISBN 9780691231358. $27.95. SCI
Nobel Prize–winning cosmologist Peebles (emeritus, physics, Princeton Univ.; Cosmology’s Century: An Inside History of Our Modern Understanding of the Universe) here writes an engaging and inviting account of the history of the physical sciences and his own involvement in the field—one that will encourage readers to share in his wonderment. His lifetime of teaching experience comes to the fore as he introduces complex scientific theories and principles for lay audiences. Although he indicates that the physical science and cosmology detailed in the book are described as simply as possible, some chapters will be challenging to fully comprehend without some background in physics. In contrast, when Peebles aims to make connections between physical sciences, sociology, and philosophy, he becomes more accessible, posing questions particularly germane to the modern relationship between society and the advancement of scientific understanding. Owing to clearly delineated sections and subsections that can largely stand alone, a reader could easily navigate between sections and forgo some of the more complicated texts without missing information critical to the understanding of Peebles’s book.
VERDICT Peebles thoroughly outlines the history of cosmological study and connects it to broader issues (such as the relationship between science and society); would be of interest to physics students as a foundational history of the field, or to anyone interested in the history of science.
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