David Weintraub’s How Old is the Universe? perfect for work or play

David Weintraub’s How Old is the Universe? offers a wonderfully sweeping history of humankind’s investigation of the universe, perfect for anyone interested in astronomy, no matter what level. Thanks to its accessible narrative and lucid explanations of scientific concepts throughout, Weintraub’s book is also excellently suited for use as a main or supplementary text in any introductory astronomy or astrophysics course.

Instructors will be interested to discover that How Old is the Universe? makes a number of unique offerings to the pedagogical literature:

  • Uses the idea of answering a single, fundamental question How Old is the Universe? about the universe to help students place an enormous amount of basic astrophysical information into context. Each and every new idea and concept – e.g., radioactivity, parallax, the inverse square law, spectral lines, redshifts, the H-R diagram, variable stars, nuclear fusion, stellar evolution, degenerate matter, white dwarfs, supernovae, the big bang, the cosmic microwave background, the expanding universe, dark matter, dark energy, the accelerating universe – very clearly builds on the previous one and leads the reader closer to understanding the answer to the title question;
  • Explains cutting-edge astronomy and astrophysics concepts without jargon and without mathematics;
  • Uses a historical approach to illustrate the concept of progress in science, showing how every generation of astronomers corrects mistakes and confirms discoveries made by their predecessors to improve humanity’s understanding of the physical universe;
  • Introduces readers to a large number of important figures in the history of astronomy.


  • If you are an instructor and are interested in using How Old Is the Universe? in a course, you can request an examination copy for consideration by using our online form. Furthermore, you can find supplementary teaching materials at a dedicated site, created and maintained by the author:

    • PowerPoint lectures, approximately one per chapter;
    • Mathematical supplements, approximately one per chapter;
    • Homework questions, approximately one set per chapter.



    * Please note that these are not for sale or distributed by Princeton University Press; they are the personal creative work of the author, for use only for purposes of teaching.