The 4 Percent Universe
Dark Matter, Dark Energy, and the Race to Discover the Rest of Reality
By Richard Panek
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Hardcover, 9780618982448, 320pp.)
Publication Date: January 2011
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The epic, behind-the-scenes story of an astounding gap in our scientific knowledge of the cosmos.
In the past few years, a handful of scientists have been in a race to explain a disturbing aspect of our universe: only 4 percent of it consists of the matter that makes up you, me, our books, and every planet, star, and galaxy. The rest—96 percent of the universe—is completely unknown.
Richard Panek tells the dramatic story of how scientists reached this conclusion, and what they’re doing to find this "dark" matter and an even more bizarre substance called dark energy. Based on in-depth, on-site reporting and hundreds of interviews—with everyone from Berkeley’s feisty Saul Perlmutter and Johns Hopkins’s meticulous Adam Riess to the quietly revolutionary Vera Rubin—the book offers an intimate portrait of the bitter rivalries and fruitful collaborations, the eureka moments and blind alleys, that have fueled their search, redefined science, and reinvented the universe.
RICHARD PANEK is the recipient of a Guggenheim fellowship and the author of The Invisible Century and Seeing and Believing. He has frequently written for the New York Times, as well as Discover, Smithsonian, Esquire, and Outside, among other publications.