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Origins: Fourteen Billion Years of Cosmic Evolution (Paperback)

By: Neil deGrasse Tyson, Donald Goldsmith

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In this companion volume to the two-part NOVA television special by the same title, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson and astronomy writer Donald Goldsmith attempt to cram 14 billion years of history into 300 pages. The result of this audacious exercise is a surprising and engrossing book, one that far surpasses the droning tone of so many astronomy texts. Starting (of course) with the Big Bang and ending with the search for extraterrestrial life, the authors synthesize the results of several scientific fields to present a sort of cosmological consilience. They also emphasize the scientific method and its inherent skepticism as the only way to understand such mysteries as dark matter, stellar formation, and the origin of life on Earth. Although several books are published each year that provide overviews of various branches of science, what's different about this one is the accessible tone of the writing. The authors use mild humor throughout to keep readers going in difficult sections; for instance, when assessing the question of why we live during the rare time when the amounts of dark and not-dark energy are roughly equal in the universe, they relate that cosmologist Michael Turner calls the situation the "'Nancy Kerrigan problem,' in honor of the Olympic figure skater, who asked... 'Why me? Why now?'" Combining 21st-century astronomy, astrobiology, astrochemistry, and other disciplines, Origins is a fine guidebook with which to journey "back to the beginning of everything." --Therese Littleton

Short Desription

"Distills complex science in clear and lively prose."—Scientific American Book Club

Origins explores cosmic science's stunning new insights into the formation and evolution of our universe—of the cosmos, of galaxies and galaxy clusters, of stars within galaxies, of planets that orbit those stars, and of different forms of life that take us back to the first three seconds and forward through three billion years of life on Earth to today's search for life on other planets.

Drawing on the current cross-pollination of geology, biology, and astrophysics, Origins explains the thrilling daily breakthroughs in our knowledge of the universe from dark energy to life on Mars to the mysteries of space and time and makes "the astonishing astronomical discoveries of recent years come alive" (Michael D. Lemonick).

Distilling complex science in clear and lively prose, co-authors Neil deGrasse Tyson and Donald Goldsmith conduct a galvanizing tour of the cosmos revealing what the universe has been up to while turning part of itself into us. "The most informative, congenial and accessible general look at cosmology to come along since Carl Sagan's Cosmos 27 years ago," says Publishers Weekly. "The tone is informational, aimed at high clarity, and laced with giddy humor…general readers of every stripe will benefit from the authors' sophisticated, deeply knowledgeable presentation. If the casual book buyer purchases one science book this year, this should be the one." 32 pages of color illustrations.

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