The best picture humanity will ever collect of the Big Bang measures it’s afterglow, 13.8 billion years after it happened and across 440 sextillion kilometers of space. Since it was released by the European Space Agency in 2013, scientists have uncovered anomalies that challenge our very understanding of cosmology. From Newton’s laws of gravity to dark matter and dark energy, Dr. Stuart Clark questions many of our underlying assumptions about the laws of physics.

Although the synopsis sounds intense, Dr. Clark sets the scene of modern astronomy with history—from the lives and personalities of the scientists who built the discipline, to simple explanations of their contributions—for well over half the book, in spite of the title The Unknown Universe. It is difficult to balance the presentation of scientific ideas to non-scientists, and here the actual explanations of historical discoveries are simple enough, if a bit dry at times.

However, the book shines in it’s crescendo towards modern-day understanding of dark matter and dark energy, which is to say that scientists know nothing about either. Dark matter and dark energy are hypotheses that explain the observed facts, but so far there’s no direct evidence for either, and recent data in the Big Bang picture just doesn’t fit the explanation. Dr. Clark believes it’s time to remove the fudge factors that make the equation work; that it’s time for a paradigm shift.

In the Audible audiobook format, I was able to stomach the narrator for the entire book, but his “poetry voice” was exceptionally grating at times. I recommend listening to an excerpt before purchasing.

Recommended as a refreshing take that acknowledges the assumptions all scientists must make—and eventually question!