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The Whole Shebang: 03/10/09
Timothy Ferris's enthusiasm for space is infective. In Seeing in the Dark he wrote about his love of astronomy (and many others who share his love of it). In The Whole Shebang he tries to tackle the current state of our knowledge of life, the universe and everything. The title is also a delicious pun on the "big bang" and he has things to say about it too.
The Whole Shebang looks like a hefty book at first at 400 pages, but the last hundred are devoted to the end notes and bibliography. The remaining 300 pages is divided into 12 chapters that cover many of the different ways of thinking about the universe: how it expands, how it is shaped, the big bang and the evidence we have for it, dark matter, the structure of the universe, the evolution of stars and other bodies in space, and chapters on quantum physics (but presented in Ferris's engaging and easy to follow manner) and finally where we fit into all of this.
I enjoyed The Whole Shebang more than I did Seeing in the Dark because there is less focus on Ferris's interviews with other experts in the field. The Whole Shebang instead sticks with the topic and only glances at the people responsible for advancing our understanding of space and the universe. I came to this book with a layman's basic understanding of the science in the book and so found it a relatively quick read giving the complexity of the subject. Others who aren't as familiar with the subject might want to take it in smaller chunks than I did but I think it will still be an interesting and understandable book.