The Moment of Creation: Big Bang Physics from before the First Millisecond to the Present Universe. James S. Trefil. Charles Scribner’s Sons.

The Moment of Creation: Big Bang Physics from before the First Millisecond to the Present Universe Book Cover The Moment of Creation: Big Bang Physics from before the First Millisecond to the Present Universe
James S. Trefil
Charles Scribner's Sons

Few questions grip the mind more forcefully than those about the creation of the universe, and since the discoveries of the 1920s it is been a primary goal of physicists to trace the history of the universe back to “where it all came from” – the moment of creation in the Big Bang. This is the up-to-date story of the enormous growth in knowledge of the early universe and the important discoveries about that titanic explosion that took place 15 billion years ago.

Professor James S. Trefil explains how the billions of galaxies in the universe are all undergoing a universal expansion, and by reversing that expansion we can trace back through “the ages of the universe,” from 500,000 years to 3 minutes to .001 seconds to 10^-43 seconds of the Big Bang – the latter so short an interval that our concept of time may have to be redefined. Professor Trefil also describes the basis for this new knowledge – the so-called unified field theories, but realizing that not every reader may wish to go through all the detailed arguments involved in establishing those theories, he has provided a “fast-track” of summaries at the ends of these chapters for those who want to get on to the description of the early universe.

Part Three of The Moment of Creation takes us into previously uncharted territory with our new understanding of the grand unified theories. There we see the various freezings the universe underwent, how it tunneled out of a false vacuum, the search for relic particles, and the solutions to the problems of antimatter, galaxy formation, horizons, and flatness – all of which bring us tantalizingly close to our goal of reaching the moment of creation.

Lastly, once we have reached back to the first moment, we realize that we must ask new questions, such as what happened before the Big Bang and, in effect, why the universe exists at all. The Moment of Creation ends its journey with a fascinating change in our focus of inquiry, from where we came from to where we are going – what will be the ultimate fate of the universe.

James S. Trefil is a professor of physics at the University of Virginia and has been teaching beginning students about physics for fifteen years. He is also an officer and founding member of the Society for Scientific Exploratio , and the author of two physics textbooks and more than a hundred articles for professional journals. He has also written for such popular magazines as Smithsonian, Science 82, and Popular Science. His other books include the highly acclaimed From Atoms to Quarks, Are We Alone? (With Robert T. Rood), and, most recently, The Unexpected Vista. He lives near the Blue Ridge and Virginia.