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Epic of Evolution: Seven Ages of the Cosmos

4.8 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0231135610
ISBN-10: 0231135610
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The Big Picture: On the Origins of Life, Meaning, and the Universe Itself by Sean Carroll
"The Big Picture" by Sean Carroll
The Big Picture is an unprecedented scientific worldview, a tour de force that will sit on shelves alongside the works of Stephen Hawking, Carl Sagan, Daniel Dennett, and E. O. Wilson for years to come. Learn more | See related books
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Chaisson attempts to explain the origin of the universe and the evolution of everything in it, in nontechnical terms. With such a huge topic, it's hardly surprising that he paints with broad strokes and glosses over specifics. Nonetheless, his writing is clear and his overview will both educate and entertain the average reader. Chaisson (The Hubble Wars), head of the Wright Center for Science Education at Tufts, structures his book by following the chronology of change and development in the universe, beginning with the creation of atomic particles 15 billion years ago at the time of the Big Bang. Subsequent chapters describe the evolution of galaxies, stars, planets, chemical interactions, life and human culture. Chaisson does a good job of explaining two overarching concepts. First, "all ordered systems seen in nature differ not in kind but only in degree, namely, the degree of complexity." Second, he repeatedly and articulately describes the nature of the scientific method, demonstrating how science differs from other ways of understanding the world. Given the never-ending public controversy over evolution, this point is particularly appropriate for the generalist audience. Photos and illus. (Dec.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

The author of astronomy textbooks and occasional popular works (The Hubble Wars, 1994), Chaisson will interest the same readers Bill Bryson won over with A Short History of Nearly Everything (2003). Though far more scientifically rigorous than Bryson, Chaisson is just as readable and greatly appealing for exuding the scientific spirit that asks not merely what things exist but why they exist. Dividing the universe into seven epochs, Chaisson charts the course of its evolution-effected complexity. Chaisson explicates the observational and experimental information that allows scientists to be so confident about the first few minutes after the big bang, admitting its origin is complete speculation. Introducing the bearing of relativity and quantum mechanics on the beginning and possible fates of the universe, Chaisson incorporates theory as needed while he discusses the universe's cooling expansion, and its increasing structure over time, sequentially manifested in galaxies, stars, the elements, terrestrial planets, life, and human beings. Capacious and comprehensible. Gilbert Taylor
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 504 pages
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press (March 27, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0231135610
  • ISBN-13: 978-0231135610
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #435,978 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Read this in conjunction with course I was taking at Tufts Osher School (for retired and semi-retired alums). I don't think many people are aware of recent developments in the exploration of space and our understanding of it, nor of recent developments here on earth in the fields of evolution of the planet and we humans living on it. This is a multidisciplinary book that covers all of the above and more written in a readily understandable way. He brings a unifying understanding of evolution- from the evolution of the universe the chemistry and biology here on earth, and human societies. It's as helpful to a layman as to an engineer or scientist operating in any of the broad number of fields his book spans. This topic should be requred study for every college student in order to graduate, and required reading for anyone with a curous and open mind interested in better understanding the world and how we as humans came to be. OUTSTANDING!!!
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Format: Hardcover
If the sciences haven't been natural for you, if you can appreciate but not calculate complex math, Prof. Chaisson gives the story of the universe. The marvels of physics, astronomy, chemistry, geology, biology and anthropology are told here without dumbing it down. You get a sense of the humility and thorough observation that show Chaisson to be a great scientist. His clarity and tight narrative show he's a great writer.

The extraordinary scales of distance and time are almost disorienting as he skillfully relates them. Throughout, he gives the wondrous sense of how chance has always been a part of the story.

I am fascinated by his explanation of the working of thermodynamics: how flows of energy are structured and systemized to achieve ever greater energy densities in ordered complexity. He shows how these principles relate to the creativity and power of all phenomena, from stars to ideas.

While Chaisson provides access to scientific insights into all levels of reality, he leaves us with a profoundly humanistic care for the destiny of life, especially how human culture may influence reality, offering the hope for an "Ethical Epoch."
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Format: Hardcover
This book is an updated look, using the most recent theories of the history of the Cosmos. It takes about half the book to get to the formation of the earth, made out of heavier elements that were cooked in the atmospheres of stars, and to the point where chemistry could begin. After that he looks at the evidence of the smallest and earliest ancient cells left in the fossil record.

After the transition has been made to where life exists he describes the growth from the very beginnings to the changes that have made mankind.

Through the whole book he describes and illustrates the basic scientific method where a theory is established, it is tested by experinent and observation and finally modified as needed to meet the changed data. To be valid, the theory must also predict unknown things. As you examine the theory, you move along to get to the next step, and if evidence is found to support the prediction the theory is considered better and better. This description alone sets this book apart from many others.

As best we can possibly tell, this is how we and everything else came about.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is an updated version of the author's 1981 book Cosmic Dawn. Chaisson uses considerable poetic license in projecting emotions on inanimate objects such as stars and planets as well as on scientists. This is one of the rare academic science books that is difficult to put down once you start reading it.

This is an unusually good science book.
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Format: Hardcover
This book will make you practically omniscient...I have read PLENTY of books and this book is hands down the greatest book ever read....Talks about the source of everything in the universe and is extremely informative...religious folk shouldn't read if they plan on staying religious...
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