Big Bang


Simon Singh



Publication date


A book about how the Big Bang theory came about and what it is. Read once.

First read (November 2012)Edit

12 11 18 Big Bang

Finished, November 18th 2012.

12 11 18 Big Bang

Progress graph, generated by Goodreads.


2005 paperback Harper edition, borrowed from Emma. 497 actual pages long, with roughly 77 'blank' pages (lots of pictures, diagrams, tables, summaries). 32 lines per page, 61 characters per line[1], making it 427 standard pages long.


Emma read it in 2012 then lent to me in September. I figured it was basically a description and history of the Big Bang Theory, possible that it would teach me nothing new scientifically which would be disappointing, but I hoped it'd summarise the evidence for it, exactly what it's understood to be, and maybe something about where it 'came from'.

Started it on the 2nd of November, after finishing The Colour of Magic, since it was lying around and I figured I'd have to return it to Emma sooner rather than later. At about 150 pages I thought it had given an interesting, if not convincingly well-sourced or unbiased, basic history of theories concerning space leading up to Einstein's relativity (the subject of Brian Cox and Jeff Forshaw's, Why does E=mc2? which I read fairly recently) and has just reached the point at which scientists were debating the origin and fate of the universe. From that point on it delved quite deeply into the politics and individual figures and theories and events that lead to our current idea. Quite interesting, all in all, I certainly found it easy to read. It didn't, unfortunately, go into anything current (except briefly in the epilogue) which I'm interested in, such as 'before the Big Bang', but I'm all set to go investigate that now.

I'm really struck, having read this, at how absurd it is that because galaxies are moving apart, and we think for whatever reason (not addressed in this book) that space itself is expanding, and that this implies it was all in one place in the past, that people think it was the beginning of everything. Why would you possibly jump to that conclusion? How can you possibly know what was happening before the Big Bang? What set it off? We know next to nothing, really. All we've done is observe that stuff is moving away right now, and drawn some conclusions. I imagine there are some pretty well-founded reasons to be sure the Big Bang did actually happen (i.e. that if we keep moving back in time stuff will just keep getting closer all the way back to that point), but once we're at that point we have all our work ahead of us.



Reading recordEdit

Previous book: Terry Pratchett, The Colour of Magic

Next book: J. R. R. Tolkien, The Silmarillion

Ratings, awards, mentions and recommendationsEdit

Links and referencesEdit

  1. 1959 characters on page 189, according to Notepad++.

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