Rhodri Evans
The Cosmic Microwave Background - How it Changed Our Understanding of the Universe

Rhodri Evans tells the story of what we know about the universe and how we know it. He takes us from the early ideas of the ancient Greeks through to Nicholas Copernicus and Galileo Galilei's work at the dawn of modern science, to Jacobus Kapteyn’s Island universe at the turn of the 20th Century, and the discovery by Edwin Hubble that the nebulae were external to our own galaxy, through George Gamow and his team’s early work on the cosmic microwave background (CMB) and its subsequent discovery by Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson, to modern day satellite-lead CMB research. Results from the ground-based experiments such as DASI, BOOMERANG, and satellite missions COBE, WMAP and Planck are explained and interpreted to show how our current shocking picture of the universe was arrived at (we only understand what 4% of it is!), and lastly the author looks at the future of CMB research and what we still need to learn. Science is a human activity, and throughout the book Evans engages us with the successes and frustrations of the people involved in this extraordinary voyage of discovery. Click here to order directly from Springer, or click here to order from Amazon.


(5/5) "This is the best book I have ever read about the history of the investigation of the cosmic microwave background radiation, the "echo of the Big Bang", and what it means for our understanding of the Universe. Evans knows his stuff (astronomer at Cardiff University) and has met many of the people involved. His style is easy and accessible, but with lots of references for keen types to follow up." John Gribbin, Goodreads.com (April 2015)

(5/5) Kenneth, Goodreads (May 2015)

(4/5) Richard Giles, Goodreads (June 2015)

(4/5) "This is a popular science book that is eminently suitable for general readers.... As with any good popular science book, there is almost as much about the people who made the discoveries as about the discoveries themselves. There are even accounts of Captain Cook in Tahiti and Captain Scott in Antarctica – both of which, surprisingly enough, played a peripheral role in the history of our understanding of the universe!... It’s as readable and engaging an introduction to observational cosmology as you could hope to find." Andy May, Amazon.co.uk (July 2015)

"It is clear that Evans not only understands the material but knows how to present it well. The explanation of the cosmological constant and its possible relation to dark energy is better than in most popular works.... Evans includes some personal details in relation to some of the events, which makes for a more enjoyable narrative, as do historical 'detours' on such topics as 18th-Century observing expeditions and the exploration of Antartica." Cosmologist Phillip Helbig writing in The Observatory magazine (August 2015)

(5/5) "It’s relatively rare that an astronomy book rolls along that I think astronomy enthusiasts MUST have. Such is the case, however, with The Cosmic Microwave Background.....I heartily recommend this book. Readers interested in cosmology, the evolution of the universe, and the history of science will be charmed by this excellent effort." David Eischer, Astronomy Magazine (July 2015)

(5/5) "This is a fine book about observational cosmology, aimed at amateur astronomers who enjoy reading magazines such as “Sky & Telescope”. .... Overall an excellent introduction to one of the liveliest areas of current astronomy." Gareth Wynn-Williams, Amazon.com (July 2015)

(5/5) "....Anyone interested in learning about how science really progresses and how the observable universe came into existence will find this book fascinating reading. It was so for me." Adolf Witt, Amazon.com (July 2015)

"The Cosmic Microwave Background ... is replete with anecdotes and entertaining histories that, by themselves, make this a worthwhile addition to a cosmology collection ... brings readers up-to-date on the controversy surrounding the polarization of the cosmic microwave background that proves, or does not, gravitational waves from the universe's birth. Summing Up: Recommended. General readers and lower-and upper-division undergraduates." J.F. Burkhart, Choice, Vol. 52 (11), July 2015

"I just purchased your book, “The Cosmic Microwave Background,”....I was the Lead Attitude Control Systems Engineer on the proposal team, from early January 1995 until the mission was selected by the MIDEX program......Your overview of the history of the mission in Chapter 6 is outstanding. It confirms my recollections in every point on which it overlaps, and contains lots of insights that I hadn’t known." Landis Markley, via email (January 2017)

(4/5) Natasha, Goodreads (December 2015)

(4/5) Barbara Walsh, Goodreads (October 2016)



    From time to time I will get questions about the CMB and related cosmology questions, and I sometimes choose to answer these using my blog. So, for example, I have posted these blogs relating to the CMB

    The Prediction of the Cosmic Microwave Background

    The Prediction of the CMB - the original paper

    The CMB: how an accidental discovery became the key to understanding the universe

    How do we know that the CMB is from a hot, early Universe?

    What is the redshift of the Cosmic Microwave Background?

    The temperature of the Universe at recombination (decoupling)