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The 4% Universe: Dark Matter, Dark Energy, and the Race to Discover the Rest of Reality


"Dark," cosmologists call it, in what could go down in history as the ultimate semantic surrender. This is not "dark" as in distant or invisible. This is not "dark" as in black holes or deep space. This is "dark" as in unknown for now, and possibly forever: 23 percent something mysterious that they call dark matter, 73 percent something even more mysterious that they call dark energy. Which leaves only 4 percent the stuff of us. As one theorist likes to say at public lectures, "We're just a bit of pollution." Get rid of us and of everything else we've ever thought of as the universe, and very little would change. "We're completely irrelevant," he adds, cheerfully.

“A lively new account of twentieth-century (plus a little twenty-first-century) cosmology....The book is as much about how the science got done as about the science itself.”


“The centerpiece of The 4% Universe is a compelling narrative of science at its best.”
The Wall Street Journal

“Fascinating. One of the most important stories in the history of science.”
The Washington Post

“By brilliantly capturing the passions and pursuits, Panek has made this cosmic quest exciting and understandable.”
—Walter Isaacson, author of Einstein: His Life and Universe

“In his journalistic yet artful style, Panek guides you through the quirky discoveries that established the existence of dark matter and dark energy. But along the way, you also get to meet the quirky cosmologists who got us there.”
–Neil deGrasse Tyson, Ameican Museum of Natural History, host of Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey