Simon Singh’s ”Big Bang: The most important scientific discovery of all time and why you need to know about it” is a 500-page thick book about how the titular theory was formed after thousands of years’ worth of scientific research. It starts back when the ancient Greeks first thought to turn their eyes to the heavens and tried to measure such things as the Earth’s diameter and distance to the moon, and it ends in present day, when we know so much more than they did but are still in the dark about most of it.
The book looks daunting; if you have any spiders you want to exterminate, this book will get the job done. Don’t let that scare you, though. If you have even a passing interest in astronomy and the creation of the universe, you’ll get the science. I almost failed chemistry at school, and my grades in physics weren’t that much better, but – seeing as I’m a sucker for all things space – I kept reading, and had no trouble understanding most of it. The chemistry bits lost me a little bit (something about atoms and elements exploding? No?) but, like I said, the reason for that is my monumental disinterest in chemistry and not that Singh didn’t explain it well enough.
In fact, I want to sing Singh’s praises (sorry). To make such a dry subject as the history of astronomy and particle physics appealing to the general public, you have to employ language that is both educational and simple, yet exciting enough to make people want to keep reading. You have to take scientific jargon and make it approachable, without watering it down too much or else you’ll be patronising your readers. Singh succeeds in both those counts. The book is full of anecdotes about the rivalry between scientists, which is maybe a little too gossipy for my liking but which I suppose others might appreciate as it shows the dynamics that drive scientific progress forward. There were a couple of laugh-out-loud moments but generally the tone of the book is serious enough to do the subject at its core justice. That is not to say that it is a difficult book. I found it to be a relatively quick, easy read.
If you’ve ever looked up at the stars with wonder, if you’ve ever wanted to know how we got here, if you want to fully understand what people mean what they say that we are made of stars, this is the book for you.