# Review: The Biggest Ideas in the Universe

### An ambitious attempt to make essential equations understandable to the rest of us.

*The Biggest Ideas in the Universe: Space, Time, and Motion* is one of a series that explains key ideas in physics. It has the ambitious goal of bridging the gap between popular science books that stay away from equations and technical books that require a deep understanding of math. Carrol’s goal is not to get you to the point where you can derive and solve the basic equations of physics, but rather to help you to develop an understanding of how things work by gaining an intuitive understanding of the math. And for the most part, he succeeds.

As someone with an engineering background who studied Physics and Calculus in college, this book was a gentle refresher of things I learned a while ago in school, with the addition of a chance to better learn concepts that I had a superficial understanding of, like The Theory of Relativity. I confess that I did a bit of skimming when I got to the later parts of the book that talked about the non-euclidian spaces and more than once I found myself doubling back and — more often than not — got it the second time.

I think if you are interested in science and math (even if you haven’t had a lot of exposure to calculus), this could be a great — if perhaps slow — adventure. (There is a short but useful appendix that gives a primer of basic calc and pre-calc). If yo are motivated, Don’t let the math intimidate you: putting in some work will help with learning. And you can likely skip some of the details and still learn some fun facts.

This book does what it sets out to do: give you an intuition of how the equations that describe the universe work. If the subject interests you, even if you haven’t done any non-trivial math in a while, I’d recommend giving it a try; you might surprise your self. And if you know the math, this is a good quick overview of some basic ideas about how the universe works.