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How It Began: A Time-Traveler's Guide to the Universe Hardcover

ISBN-13: 978-0393080025 ISBN-10: 0393080021 Edition: 1st

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How It Began: A Time-Traveler's Guide to the Universe + How It Ends: From You to the Universe + The Book of Universes: Exploring the Limits of the Cosmos
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1 edition (March 26, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393080021
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393080025
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.5 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #147,261 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“Starred Review. ...readers learn just how many astrophysical mysteries scientists have already penetrated and how many more they hope to unravel with daring new grand unified theories of the universe. But what will especially impress readers is just how entertaining Impey can make science as he regales them with his own piquant experiences as a researcher and translates arcane mathematics into metaphors (guitar strings, apple pies, Tootsie Pops) drawn from everyday life. Readers will never find more intellectual adventure packed into fewer pages.” (Booklist)

“Chris Impey has achieved the near-impossible: an accurate, up-to-date account of ‘the state of the universe’ that is told in gripping human terms. A great achievement and a ‘must-read’ book.” (Ben Bova, author of Faint Echoes, Distant Stars)

How It Began is the perfect companion to How It Ends—another star-studded tour of the cosmos, full of fascinating ports of call and revealing views of Earth, this time with imaginary voyaging which really brings the journey alive.” (Diane Ackerman, author of One Hundred Names for Love)

“Here is a universe wrapped in a dream of spacefaring for everyone to share. Author Chris Impey combines the vision of a practicing scientist with the voice of a gifted storyteller. He has crafted some of the finest metaphors imaginable for capturing astronomy’s most grandiose concepts. How It Began glitters with a sprinkle of Moon dust.” (Dava Sobel, author of A More Perfect Heaven: How Copernicus Revolutionized the Cosmos)

“The universe is a big place. It’s not easy to pack it all into a single book. Chris Impey takes on this difficult task with gusto, starting in the vicinity of the Earth and gradually moving outwards to the edge of the cosmos. This is a compelling story of science and the human faces behind it.” (Sean Carroll, author of From Eternity to Here: The Quest for the Ultimate Theory of Time)

About the Author

Chris Impey is a University Distinguished Professor in the Astronomy Department at the University of Arizona in Tucson. He has written popular pieces on astronomy and is the author of The Living Cosmos, How It Ends, and How It Began. He lives in Tucson, Arizona.

More About the Author

Chris Impey is a University Distinguished Professor and Deputy Head of the Department, in charge of all academic programs. His research interests are observational cosmology, gravitational lensing, and the evolution and structure of galaxies. He has 170 refereed publications and 65 conference proceedings, and his work has been supported by $20 million in grants from NASA and the NSF. As a professor, he has won eleven teaching awards, and he has been heavily involved in curriculum and instructional technology development. Impey is a past Vice President of the American Astronomical Society. He has also been an NSF Distinguished Teaching Scholar, a Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar, and the Carnegie Council on Teaching's Arizona Professor of the Year. He was a co-chair of the Education and Public Outreach Study Group for the Astronomy Decadal Survey of the National Academy of Sciences. In 2009 he was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Impey has written over thirty popular articles on cosmology and astrobiology and co-authored two introductory textbooks. His first popular book "The Living Cosmos," was published in 2007 by Random House. His second and third, called "How It Ends" and "How it Began," both on the subject of cosmology" were published in 2010 and 2012 by Norton. His most recent popular book in 2013 covering iconic NASA missions is called "Dreams of Other Worlds" and a book will be released in 2014 on his work teaching cosmology to Buddhist monks in India called "Humble Before the Void." He recently published his first novel on Amazon Kindle, called "Shadow World."

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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See all 23 customer reviews
He has a knack for explaining complex things in a manner that even I could understand.
BobbyG
So while you sometimes get the famliair and the novel, you always get Impey and for me that makes this book very much worth the read.
Steve Reina
This is a very good book overall and a fantastic read for any budding amateur scientist.
Fletcher

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Roberto Perez-Franco on April 13, 2012
Format: Hardcover
(Review published in MIT's The Tech on April 13, 2012)

I grew up in the Panamanian countryside, under pristine skies bursting with stars. Defenseless against the nightly spectacle, I had no choice but to become a backyard astronomer. A Spanish translation of Isaac Asimov's The Universe (1966) transformed a romantic interest in constellations into a healthy scientific understanding of the cosmos. Asimov's tome, although dated, satisfied my thirst for cosmological knowledge long enough for me to shift my attention to more mundane things. Two decades went by until I discovered -- with a mix of delight and trepidation -- that while I was not looking, a third revolution in cosmology, by no means smaller than those triggered by Copernicus and Hubble, was taking place right under my nose, during my lifetime.

Obscure and puzzling terms, such as dark matter and dark energy, were now ubiquitous in a discussion that I no longer recognized as familiar and that -- much to my dismay -- I was no longer able to follow with confidence. The good old Big Bang I was familiar with had now been revised and expanded to include exotic concepts such as an inflationary stage, an accelerating rate of expansion, and the possibility that our whole universe may be only a tiny part of a bubbling multiverse, explainable by means of microscopic vibrating strings. Ouch! Eager to catch up with the fantastic new questions and findings of the ongoing third cosmological revolution, I searched again for an instructive and entertaining book that could do for me now what Asimov's book had done 20 years earlier.

Alas! A pilgrimage through the pages of a dozen books, each with diverse strength and shortcomings, was necessary for me to catch up with our current understanding of the universe.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By J. Groen VINE VOICE on April 18, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
As I read this book, the most striking sense that I got was the overwhelming size of the universe. These are numbers that I can't even fathom, approaching infinite from both a large perspective and a small perspective.

From the large perspective, here are some numbers quoted in the book. The size of the universe is 10 to the 34th power (that is 34 zeroes after ten) light years where a light year is approximately 5.8 trillion miles. The total mass (weight) of the universe is 10 to the 54th power kilograms. There are 100 billion galaxies (Milky Way is just one) in the universe. The universe is 14 billion years old.

From a small perspective, in the process of finding out how the universe started, physicists have been pursuing smaller and smaller items, coming to the concept of a quark which can only be identified through collisions from these huge accelerator units.

This is impressive stuff to the layman in the world of astronomy like myself and therefore very interesting.

The book pursues the origination of the universe by starting with the earth, the moon, the solar system, our galaxy and continuing onto other galaxies in the universe that have been found via telescopes on earth and the Hubble telescope. Through this trip, the author shares stories of important physicists along the way, Hubble, Einstein, Lemaitre (sp?) etc. and stories regarding himself. The stories regarding himself are apparently provided for human interest and are not a highlight of the book. In these stories, we find how dedicated and eccentric these individuals are (including the author, I daresay), but I suppose that this is necessary to come to the conclusions that they have.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Fletcher on June 4, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
This is a very good book overall and a fantastic read for any budding amateur scientist. One of things I particularly liked about the book were the descriptions he gave on various cosmological occurrences a if were in the middle of it all. It gave a really nice addition to the book. The way that Chris describes the various concepts requires no previous reading or any expertise. He has a unique ability amongst science writers to bring very complex situations out in the open and allow the basics to be understood. I've read a lot of books over the last few years in this genre and some can be a bit repetitive but this book is not one of those. It has a great combination of new information portrayed in an understandable way that is quite a lot of fun to read. If you want to know how it all began, how the solar system got here, how the sun got here and how the universe began then this book is for you.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Doctor Feelgood on June 29, 2012
Format: Hardcover
IF YOU HAVE BEEN ENJOYING THE UNIVERSE SERIES, ETC. ON TELEVISION THIS BOOK WILL EXPAND YOUR KNOWLEDGE. IT SEEMS TO ME TO BE A CROSSOVER BETWEEN AN INTRODUCTORY TO UNIVERSE SCIENCE AND A COLLEGE TEXT PRIMARILY AS A HISTORY FOR THOSE INTERESTED IN BECOMING ASTROPHYSICISTS. THE COMPLEXITY OF THE NOVEL IS NOT FOR THE CURIOUS. THIS IS A BOOK THAT NEEDS TO BE READ MORE THAN ONCE TO ENHANCE ONE'S KNOWING THE CONTENT IN DEPTH. DR. IMPEY DOES AN ADMIRABLE PRESENTATION OF THE FACTS WE CURRENTLY HAVE AT HAND AND AN AWARENESS THAT OUR KNOWLEDGE IS INCREASING SO RAPIDLY THAT I WOULD HOPE DR. IMPEY WOULD FOLLOW UP WITH A SECOND BOOK. TAKE YOUR TIME, READ THE BOOK, AND INCREASE YOUR KNOWLEDGE OF THE UNIVERSE AT THIS TIME!!!
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