BBC Sky at Night Magazine - January 2020
“Are you unhappy with the state of cosmology and think it needs to be revolutionised? If so, cosmologists Luke Barnes and Geraint Lewis have written The Cosmic Revolutionary's Handbook just for you. The inspiration will be familiar to many an astronomer or cosmologists: letters from people who think they have a new theory to explain the Universe, but who can't get the details (or the maths) right.
“The book starts with a comprehensive explanation of how theories are developed and evidenced by new observations – or how observations are explained by new theories. From a thorough consideration of Olbers’ Paradox (“Why is the sky dark?”) to observations of the expanding Universe and its composition, the focus is on the Universe’s origin and evolution.
"… the book would be a great starting point for budding astronomers or cosmologists who want to ‘debunk’ would-be revolutionaries – or answer the “but how do we know…” they’re likely to get asked.”
Review by Dr Chris North
Ogden Science Lecturer and STFC Public Engagement Fellow at Cardiff University
Nature Astronomy, February 2020
"In The Cosmic Revolutionary’s Handbook, Luke Barnes and Geraint Lewis (well-known and respected cosmologists) set out to describe why cosmologists believe in the Hot Big Bang (HBB) model and all the apparent complications it brings, focusing on a set of key facts that any theory wanting to overthrow the HBB model must be able to explain better. The book is extremely well organized into ten chapters. The book puts emphasis on providing observational facts that are as up-to-date and raw as possible. ...
"In addition to an excellent account of the observational foundations of the HBB model, the authors provide a remarkably accurate insight into how science really is done, without leaving out the less-pleasing parts of how human bias, mistakes and academic dishonesty are unfortunately part of the game. At the same time, the authors provide superb concrete examples of how to do good science, as well as how not to do science (in this respect, I feel that many professional scientists would benefit from reading this book!) ...
"Overall, The Cosmic Revolutionary’s Handbook is a must-read for anyone interested in better understanding why cosmologists believe all those very strange things about the Universe. Mind you, new Galileo, you will still need a degree in physics and professional research training if you want to overthrow the Big Bang model, but this book might very well be the first step towards your goal."
Review by Dr. Sunny Vagnozzi
Newton-Kavli Fellow, Kavli Institute for Cosmology, Institute of Astronomy, University of Cambridge
Evolution News, May 2020
"Readers of Evolution News probably know this duo from their prior collaborative project, A Fortunate Universe: Life in a Finely Tuned Cosmos. I suggest it whenever I’m asked about the best introductory and up-to-date book on cosmological fine-tuning. Their new book is on the big bang theory and nicely complements the previous work...
"Handbook is a modest 278 pages in length. It has several helpful black-and-white images, drawings, and illustrations. There are only a few simple equations. Anyone with a high school education will understand the main points...
"Barnes and Lewis succinctly explain the title of their new book in the first line. They say, “We want to teach you how to overthrow a scientific theory.” In other words, they’ve written a handbook for people who don’t agree with the current consensus cosmology and want to overthrow it. In truth, anyone interested in cosmology, skeptic or not, will get much from their book. They begin by discussing what makes for a good scientific model, relying heavily on a recent paper by our own Mike Keas on the topic.
They go on to suggest several practical steps to getting your cosmological ideas published. They warn potential revolutionaries that “your glorious 400-page unsolicited Word document, with seven different fonts, Microsoft Paint diagrams, and ALL CAPS, is headed straight for the trash.” You really do need to go through the tedious process of submitting to a scientific journal and multiple rounds of review and revision before cosmologists will pay any attention to you...
"Overall, I would recommend Handbook for anyone who would like to learn about modern cosmology and who is open to learning why cosmologists are so convinced the evidence supports the big bang theory."
Review by Guillermo Gonzalez
The Space Review - May 2020
The book, though, is really a discussion of why the Big Bang is—for now, at least—the best explanation for the universe’s origin and evolution. They explain how the Big Bang explains the phenomena of the universe, from the cosmic microwave background to the increase in redshift of objects as a function of distance, better than any other alternative we currently have. Over the course of about 250 pages, they offer a concise primer about cosmology and the Big Bang.
They acknowledge, though, that the Big Bang is not a perfect explanation. There are unsolved issues, ranging from the mysteries of dark matter and dark energy to the preponderance of matter over antimatter, that the Big Bang does not yet fully explain. That could, Barnes and Lewis write, open the door to an alternative model some day, provided it can explain the universe just as well as the Big Bang while addressing those complications.
“Always remember, at its heart, science invites one-upmanship,” they write at the end of the book. “Just pointing out problems and missing pieces of the big bang model is not enough. It has to be a truly scientific model, grounded in the language of mathematics, and open to all to scrutinize.” They’re willing to embrace a new model if it works better than the Big Bang. But, please, just lay off the Comic Sans.
CHOICE - September 2020
The general educated public has heard about many key terms of modern science: 'evolution,' 'virus,' 'quantum theory,' and the 'big bang,' for example. But the framework and methodology of science are barely understood by most … Here, Barnes (Western Sydney Univ.) and Lewis (Sydney Institute for Astronomy) inform the general reader about many fascinating aspects of astronomy, astrophysics, and cosmology. The book is full of scientific facts and clarifying figures. More importantly, it clarifies the routes that lead to major scientific results …
Readers will gain a more than nodding acquaintance with the basics of astrophysics, including magnetic monopoles, dark matter, the inflationary model, and related key concepts It is unlikely that this book will silence the many anti-science... [whose] ideas are propagated with ease in our own times. But books like this will inform and educate those who respect science and are willing to learn about good science and how it is done. This should be required reading for all college students, regardless of their major.
Review by V. V. Raman,
Rochester Institute of Technology
Astronomy Now - October 2020
From two Sydney-based cosmologists comes this book that shows how you can overturn the Big Bang model and become a cosmic revolutionary. All your pet theory needs to do is explain the CMB radiation, galaxy redshifts, the flatness problem, the horizon problem, galaxy formation and the cosmic web of matter, the Hubble–Lemaître Law, the formation and abundance of the primordial elements, the Lyman-alpha forest and much more. Importantly, your theory needs to be able to do all this with mathematics – because, point out the authors, saying you have a cosmological theory but just needing someone to do the maths for you is like claiming you’ve come up with a great concerto and then asking a musician to write the music for you.
So The Cosmic Revolutionary’s Handbook is ostensibly aimed at those readers (for some reason they are often retired engineers, say the authors, which this reviewer can corroborate!) who fancy themselves as amateur cosmologists and think that with a few badly thought out ideas scrawled on the back of a utility bill they can prove scientists wrong. In their book, the authors describe the unbiased observations of the Universe that any cosmological theory has to explain. They then describe how the Big Bang theory explains these observations, what deficiencies exist in that theory, and what rival theories have tried to do and why they’ve mostly fallen by the wayside.
In truth I’m a little unsure who the audience for this book is meant to be. It is a very good book, but the arguments can be complicated in places and a beginner could easily become confused. Some knowledge of cosmology is required. But I also suspect that many die-hard cosmic revolutionaries will be too stubborn to listen to what the authors are saying. However, I learned a lot from the book, so if you already have a basic background knowledge of cosmology and want to learn more about its intricacies (and to argue successfully with the revolutionaries), then this is definitely the book for you