Your Place In The Universe by Paul M. Sutter (book review).

Firstly, Paul M. Sutter’s book, ‘Your Place In The Universe’, is not a look at the house where you live or even your neighbourhood. Well, not exactly. What Sutter has done is combined science and cosmos with the history of how mankind slowly worked things out in a friendly manner that you will be surprised how quickly you read this book. Mind you, I’m science-orientated anyway but it should help even if you don’t.

When looking at the universe, the hardest thing to convince was the dynamic where everything was moving away from each other than the static universe. Even Einstein took some convincing and Fred Hoyle, who coined the name ‘Big Bang’ from that point of view, didn’t believe in it. Evidence wins in the end and you see a lot of that. You’ll be surprised at how some maths is explained simply to measure cosmic distance. All to do with parallax although Sutter doesn’t explain how the distance of half our orbit is calculated when it isn’t circular but elliptical but I’d hazard a guess that it’s all to do with angles from the sun.

When you consider that the universe is only made up of 30% of matter, you do have to wonder where the rest of it is. More so, as Sutter points out that the cosmos is actually flat, which does remind me of what Einstein once said that he treated the universe as a rubber mat when it came to gravity. Sutter explores dunkle Materie or dark matter, pointing out that there is more matter out there somewhere, it’s just that we can’t see it, hence its name.

In the ‘Epilogue’, Sutter ponders on the debate of whether we are alone in the universe and that distance will ensure that we stay that way. He even goes as far as to say the Drake Equation doesn’t have any specific numbers to prove whether there is other life in the universe or not. I think mankind would be happier to know that there is life out there and Drake’s equation is more for statistical odds, even if we never meet extra-terrestrials.

The reaction to the discovery of other planets out there has always sparked interest in the past decade. Just because we are seeing light from many millennia ago just means we’re seeing what was and where it might be going. Of course, it’s an impossible dream but should we stop dreaming? Who knows if another alien species out there is thinking the same thing? With so many recently discovered planets the odds tend to stack in Drake’s favour in my opinion.

You will learn a lot from this book on a variety of science subjects in Sutter’s friendly manner, so even if you think yourself not as scientifically orientated as you think, this book should polish some of the edges.

GF Willmetts

December 2018

(pub: Prometheus Books. 267 page small hardback. Price: $24.00 (US), $24.50 (CAN), £19.11 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-63388-473-4. Ebook: Price: $11.99 (US), $13.99 (CAN). ISBN: 978-1-63388-473-1)

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Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 21 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’ If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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