## Astrophysics and Cosmology

*08 Jan 2012 18:38*

A (pardon the expression) large subject, which I like to read about but don't work on. (If nothing else I couldn't take the jokes about my name.)

There are interesting issues of statistical mechanics involved, since there
are long-range interactions: gravity falls off only
slowly with distance *r*^{-2}, after all), and, unlike
electromagnetism, there are no positive and negative charges which could lead
to screening off. This leads to some weird effects, like spontaneous clumping,
and possibilities
like negative specific
heats.

A personal hatred: the anthropic principle. To illustrate: I once happened --- no joke --- to find a twenty dollar bill lying in the street in front of my house. This required an extraordinarily fine adjustment of a huge range of circumstances. Among these, of course, were the incidents of American history such that we use paper money, denominated in dollars, that the twenty is a common but large denomination, and that Andrew Jackson's portait be on it. This last involves our political history through and indeed since Jackson's time. That political history is incomprehensible without the influence of the Enlightenment, and of the ideological struggles of 17th century England (no Lockean possessive individualism, no Jacksonian democracy). Those struggles were intimately tied to England's political and military history in the 17th century, which is only comprehensible in light of (among much else) the Norman Invasion, which in turn was only possible given the condition of Anglo-Saxon England in 1066, but there would have been no Anglo-Saxon England had there not first been a Roman Britain. There would have been no Roman Britain had Britain not already been partly integrated into the broader trading network, which was largely on account, then, of its metals. So, reasoning anthropically, I can conclude, from my stray twenty, that it was necessary that there be tin in southern Britain.

- Recommended, big picture:
- Ian Lawrie, A Unified Grand Tour of Theoretical Physics [review]
- Michael Zeilik and Elske van Panhuys Smith, Introductory Astronomy and Astrophysics [I literally have students who are younger now than this book, of course]

- Recommended, close-ups:
- Ray D'Inverno, Introducing Einstein's Relativity
- Christopher Genovese, Peter Freeman, Larry Wasserman, Robert C. Nichol and Christopher Miller, "Inference for the Dark Energy Equation of State
Using Type IA Supernova Data", Annals of Applied Statistics
**3**(2009): 144--178, arxiv:0805.4136 - Helge Kragh, "An Anthropic Myth: Fred Hoyle's Carbon-12 Resonance
Level", Archive
for History of Exact Sciences
**64**(2010): 721--751 - Bernard F. Schutz, A First Course in General Relativity
- Lee Smolin, "Scientific alternatives to the anthropic principle", arxiv:hep-th/0407213 [Comments]

- To read:
- Pierre-Henri Chavanis, C. Rosier and C. Sire, "Thermodynamics of self-gravitating systems," cond-mat/0107345
- A. Gabrielli, B. Jancovici, M. Joyce, J. L. Lebowitz, L. Pietronero and F. Sylos Labini, "Generation of Primordial Cosmological Perturbations from Statistical Mechanical Models," astro-ph/0210033 [I need a cosmology notebook]
- A. Gabrielli, F. Sylos Labini, M. Joyce and L. Pietronero, Statistical Physics for Cosmic Structures [Extremely positive review in J. Stat. Phys.]
- Misner, Thorne and Wheeler, Gravitation
- Dan Maoz, Astrophysics in a Nutshell
- T. Padmanabhan
- "Statistical Mechanics of gravitating systems in static and cosmological backgrounds," astro-ph/0206131
- Structure Formation in the Universe

- Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin, An Autobiography and Other Recollections ed. Katherine Haramundanis [Blurb]
- Peebles, Principles of Physical Cosmology
- Jose Wudka and David Dixon, Space-Time, Relativity, and Cosmology [scientists' history of the science]