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Einstein's Telescope: The Hunt For Dark Matter and Dark Energy in the Universe

Einstein's Telescope: The Hunt For Dark Matter and Dark Energy in the Universe
Evalyn Gates
New York : W.W. Norton & Company, 2009
QB791.3 .G38 2009

In 1936, Albert Einstein published a paper demonstrating that the bending of space caused by gravity would allow massive objects to act like "lenses, "amplifying and distorting the images of the objects behind them. Even as that work went to press, he dismissed the possibility of any practical applications, concluding that while a star can act as a telescope to magnify a more distant star behind it, there was simply no chance of observing this phenomenon.

It turns out that Einstein vastly underestimated the ingenuity of future astronomers and astrophysicists. In Einstein's Telescope, Evalyn Gates takes us to the leading edge of contemporary science where, using the theory of general relativity-the last major revolution in our understanding of the Universe-scientists have discovered that it is possible to use space itself as a telescope. Far more powerful than anything we could ever hope to build here on Earth, "Einstein's Telescope" uses the warps and dimples in Einstein's audacious description of space and time as giant "cosmic lenses" that allow us to see the invisible.

This revolutionary new tool holds the key to deciphering the mysterious presence of dark substances that dominate the Universe and upends long-held notions about the nature of our cosmos. Einstein's Telescope (or "gravitational lensing") is a concrete and very visual implementation of Einstein's theories of space and time. With it, we can detect the presence of mass where no light is found, which is vital for mapping out the distribution of dark matter in galaxies, clusters, and the cosmic web. And by tracing out this still-mysterious dark matter, we can come a step closer to teasing out the effects of dark energy on the expansion and evolution of the Universe.

In accessible prose, Gates transports readers beyond the stars, guiding us through a web of clusters and galaxies, undetectable planets far outside the Solar System, and black holes that whirl through space. Pushing us to the brink of the urgent search for the dark components of the Universe, Einstein's Telescope will captivate scientists and nonscientists alike as it pursues one of sciences great lingering mysteries. The answer may change forever our notions of where the Universe came from and where it is going.

Quoted from dustjacket.