What We Are Reading Today: The Cosmic Web — Mysterious Architecture of the Universe

Updated 17 July 2018
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What We Are Reading Today: The Cosmic Web — Mysterious Architecture of the Universe

J. Richard Gott was among the first cosmologists to propose that the structure of our universe is like a sponge made up of clusters of galaxies intricately connected by filaments of galaxies — a magnificent structure now called the “cosmic web” and mapped extensively by teams of astronomers. 

The Cosmic Web begins with modern pioneers of extragalactic astronomy, such as Edwin Hubble and Fritz Zwicky, says a review on the Princeton University Press website. 

It goes on to describe how, during the Cold War, the American school of cosmology favored a model of the universe where galaxies resided in isolated clusters, whereas the Soviet school favored a honeycomb pattern of galaxies punctuated by giant, isolated voids. 

Gott tells the stories of how his own path to a solution began with a high-school science project when he was 18, and how he and astronomer Mario Jurič measured the Sloan Great Wall of Galaxies, a filament of galaxies that, at 1.37 billion light-years in length, is one of the largest structures in the universe.


What We Are Reading Today: Explain Me This by Adele E. Goldberg

Updated 22 January 2019
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What We Are Reading Today: Explain Me This by Adele E. Goldberg

  • Adele Goldberg explores how these creative but constrained language skills emerge from a combination of general cognitive mechanisms and experience

We use words and phrases creatively to express ourselves in ever-changing contexts, readily extending language constructions in new ways. Yet native speakers also implicitly know when a creative and easily interpretable formulation — such as “Explain me this” or “She considered to go” — doesn’t sound quite right. 

In this incisive book, Adele Goldberg explores how these creative but constrained language skills emerge from a combination of general cognitive mechanisms and experience.

Shedding critical light on an enduring linguistic paradox, Goldberg demonstrates how words and abstract constructions are generalized and constrained in the same ways, according a review on the Princeton University Press website. When learning language, we record partially abstracted tokens of language within the high-dimensional conceptual space that is used when we speak or listen. Our implicit knowledge of language includes dimensions related to form, function, and social context.