This introductory chapter provides an overview of cosmology. The starting assumption for cosmology, as in all branches of natural science, is that nature operates by kinds of logic and rules that one can discover by careful examination of what is observed, informed by past experience of what has worked. But despite the many demonstrations of its power, physics, along with all the rest of natural science, is incomplete. Research in cosmology in the twentieth century usually was done in small groups, often an individual working alone or maybe with a colleague or a student or two. In the twenty-first century, ongoing research in cosmology grew richer and called for larger groups to develop special-purpose equipment for data acquisition, which in turn called for groups of comparable size to reduce the data and interpret it. Big Science has become important to this subject: One has to get used to gathering data in vast amounts, analyzing these data, and employing massive numerical simulations that help bridge the gap between theory and observation. This book provides an account of how cosmology grew, presenting histories of six lines of research that were developing more or less separately.
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