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The Disordered Cosmos: A Journey into Dark Matter, Spacetime, and Dreams Deferred

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From a star theoretical physicist, a journey into the world of particle physics and the cosmos—and a call for a more liberatory practice of science.

Winner of the 2021 Los Angeles Times Book Prize in Science & Technology
Winner of the 2022 Phi Beta Kappa Book Award in Science
Winner of the 2022 PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Award
A Finalist for the 2022 PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award
A Smithsonian Magazine Best Science Book of 2021
A Symmetry Magazine Top 10 Physics Book of 2021
An Entropy Magazine Best Nonfiction Book of 2020-2021
A Publishers Weekly Best Nonfiction Book of the Year
A Kirkus Reviews Best Nonfiction Book of 2021
A Booklist Top 10 Sci-Tech Book of the Year

In The Disordered Cosmos, Dr. Chanda Prescod-Weinstein shares her love for physics, from the Standard Model of Particle Physics and what lies beyond it, to the physics of melanin in skin, to the latest theories of dark matter—along with a perspective informed by history, politics, and the wisdom of Star Trek.

One of the leading physicists of her generation, Dr. Chanda Prescod-Weinstein is also one of fewer than one hundred Black American women to earn a PhD from a department of physics. Her vision of the cosmos is vibrant, buoyantly nontraditional, and grounded in Black and queer feminist lineages.

Dr. Prescod-Weinstein urges us to recognize how science, like most fields, is rife with racism, misogyny, and other forms of oppression. She lays out a bold new approach to science and society, beginning with the belief that we all have a fundamental right to know and love the night sky. The Disordered Cosmos dreams into existence a world that allows everyone to experience and understand the wonders of the universe.

ISBN-13: 9781541724709

Media Type: Hardcover

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Publication Date: 03-09-2021

Pages: 336

Product Dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.30(d)

Dr. Chanda Prescod-Weinstein is an assistant professor of physics and astronomy and core faculty in women’s and gender studies at the University of New Hampshire. She is also a columnist for New Scientist and Physics World. Her research in theoretical physics focuses on cosmology, neutron stars, and dark matter. She also does research in Black feminist science, technology, and society studies. Nature recognized her as one of 10 people who shaped science in 2020, and Essence has recognized her as one of “15 Black Women Who Are Paving the Way in STEM and Breaking Barriers.” A cofounder of Particles for Justice, she received the 2017 LGBT+ Physicists Acknowledgement of Excellence Award for her contributions to improving conditions for marginalized people in physics and the 2021 American Physical Society Edward A. Bouchet Award for her contributions to particle cosmology. Originally from East L.A., she divides her time between the New Hampshire Seacoast and Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Table of Contents

In the Beginning: A Bedtime Story 1

Phase 1 Just Physics 9

1 I Quarks 11

2 Dark Matter Isn't Dark 29

3 Spacetime Isn't Straight 45

4 The Biggest Picture There Is 67

Phase 2 Physics and the Chosen Few 91

5 The Physics of Melanin 93

6 Black People Are Luminous Matter 113

7 Who Is a Scientist? 131

Phase 3 The Trouble with Physicists 147

8 Let Astro/Physics Be the Dream It Used to Be 149

9 The Anti-Patriarchy Agender 167

10 Wages for Scientific Housework 183

11 Rape Is Part of This Scientific Story 197

Phase 4 All Our Galactic Relations 211

12 The Point of Science: Lessons from the Mauna 213

13 Cosmological Dreams Under Totalitarianism 235

14 Black Feminist Physics at the End of the World 253

Dear Mama, This is What My Freedom Dream Looks Like 275

A Note to the Reader 283

Acknowledgments 289

A Reader's Guide to The Disordered Cosmos Shirley Ngozi Nwangwa 293

Recommended Reading 301

Index 313