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Ten Equations to Explain the Mysteries of Modern Astrophysics

Santhosh Mathew
Universal Publishers
Publication Date: 
Number of Pages: 
[Reviewed by
Tom Schulte
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In this enlightening, accessible, and brief book each highlighted equation receives a chapter that is an essay on its history and implication. This is a work written for a popular audience. No prerequisite mathematical sophistication is required to appreciate the mathematical beauty of these simple equations and their descriptive potential. It is the equation’s implication, not technical underpinnings, that is explored here. Each equation is a departure point to consider accepted and considered views on the nature of reality.
In Chapter 2 the reader learns that “neutrinos are the second most abundant particles in the universe, after photons” and these “ghost particles” were predicted mathematically before they were detected and indeed even could be detected. Chapter 3 reviews Hubble’s work that led to not only our understanding of an expanding universe but extragalactic astronomy as well. All of this occurred before 1930. Einstein’s and Planck’s simply stated models of relativistic and quantum relationships track back as well to the early Twentieth Century. There is a suggestion that we look back on world-view shaping mathematics of the last century as a prelude to our growing understanding of a reality that yet holds significant mystery to be resolved in tomorrow’s equations.
There is a poetic feel to the ruminations here exemplified by Chapter 6 on entropy. Its name eschews title case as the rest: “The equation that stole eternity”. This jibes with an awe of the discovered and imagined nature of reality emerging from the semi-philosophical character of discussion here. This tone is set from the onset with Chapter 1 on The Shannon Entropy Equation leading not to data compression or other applications of information theory, but to a musing on the Holographic Universe; reality as a simulation or hologram.
This is not to suggest the author ever becomes untethered, drifting off into fringe theory. Not only well-grounded, there are some salvoes fired into the fringe. Aim is taken at The Tao of Physics: An Exploration of the Parallels between Modern Physics and Eastern Mysticism by Fritjof Capra and against the “outcry of some Hindu nationalists that science is just figuring out what has already been described in the scriptures.” (I am certain this is the only work on mathematics I have read that has a few things to say on the subject of “Hindu nationalists” and their beliefs.)
Some criticism can be made on the layout here. Large blocks in italics makes the text harder to read. This is the font style chosen for lengthy captions underscoring key concepts. The illustrations themselves are cramped and much too small to be appreciated. Also, there is no index. However, these facts do not take away from this being a quick, easy read over mostly Twentieth Century reality-describing equations.


Tom Schulte finished this book and wrote this review while sheltering in place during Hurricane Barry.