In "Cosmic Numbers", mathematics professor James Stein traces the discovery, evolution, and interrelationships of the great numbers that define our world. Some numbers, like the speed of light and absolute zero, are well known to the general public. Others, such as Boltzmann's constant and the Chandrasekhar limit, are known only to those with a deep knowledge of science. But these numbers do far more than the average person might dare to imagine: they tell us how this world began, the way we were and the way we are, and what the future holds. Stein reveals the manner in which certain cosmic numbers came to light, the dramatis personae involved, and cutting-edge developments associated with these numbers. Many are the cornerstones of grand discoveries and theories. They represent landmarks in the history of intellectual achievement. And the stories of these numbers offer a novel understanding of physics, chemistry, astronomy, and ourselves. "Cosmic Numbers" illuminates why particular numbers are so important - both to scientists and to the rest of us.
"Cheerful but not dumbed-down... Every educated reader should know what these numbers mean. Stein casts his net widely, delivering an entertaining history of each, often wandering into areas of science only distantly related but no less worthwhile."
"Booklist""In the explanatory power of fundamental numbers, Stein discerns the fundamental harmonies that emerge in the most profound science. Stein teases these harmonies out of their formulas and then weaves them into a broader conceptual fabric...By turns amusing and poignant, Stein's engaging style eases general readers past their fears of scientific math, while also guiding them into a deeper appreciation of the stubborn human complexities of the scientists behind that mat...Numbers become portals to mind-expanding questions."" ""The Boston Globe""A brisk, fun ride...Stein is good at extracting drama from the brilliant minds and experiments that fill his book, and it's impossible to read it without gaping in awe at ju