Book Review: In Search of Dark Matter

In Search of Dark MatterI’m continually amazed at the abilities of our species. Foremost amongst our talents is deduction. Using logic and reasoning, a truth can be determined without direct evidence. Ken Freeman and Geoff McNamara in their book ‘In Search of Dark Matter‘ showcase this talent. In this book, they outline the basis and ongoing search for something we can never see and only indirectly measure. Elementary or not, Holmes would be jealous.

Freeman and McNamara’s book takes a look at one of the biggest issues facing astronomy. Expectations on the velocity of stars, galaxies and clusters indicate something’s amiss. Basic Newtonian relationships indicate a much faster motion than what can be attributed to the observable matter. Hence, something, such as dark matter, dark energy or some other exotic, is making stars move in a way that confuses.

Given the state of unknown portrayed, this book would be a great tool to lure undergraduate students into the field of astronomy. The authors build a smooth chronological development in observational astronomy. They don’t summarize the field but establish a refined review relevant to the subject. Especially, they show the broadening of human knowledge up to when galaxies came onto the scene. As well, the galactic constant makes an entrance together with exciting new research tools such as fibre optic equipment used to measure star fields. Throughout, there are well appointed photographs to entice the reader to fly of the Earth’s soil and adventure deep into the universe to help resolve the mystery of the missing mass. However, the book’s greatest lure is the implied expectation that only a little more research along the lines discussed in the book will bring fundamental answers about our existence and likely a lot of fame to the finder.

Aside from being a great lure, this book is a comprehensive yet uncomplicated assessment of what we now know about dark matter. The book looks at the historical development and current situation. It provides consideration of many possible candidates for dark matter and a description of the experiments underway to help prove their truth. The reader will not need a specialist background, as experimental equipment and most of the physics is explained from a layman’s perspective. However, the ideas and concepts expressed in the book are not trivial. The reader needs to be prepared to put a good bit of thinking into following the series of deductions. But, if they do, they will be well rewarded.

Our species has never travelled further than the Moon. Only two human-made craft have ventured past our solar system. But this doesn’t limit our ability to think! Ken Freeman and Geoff McNamara show this great skill of ours in their book ‘In Search of Dark Matter‘. It’s a solid book discussing an astronomical perplexity as well as being a highlight of humankind’s desire for answers.

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