- Hardcover: 504 pages
- Publisher: Columbia University Press (November 23, 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0231135602
- ISBN-13: 978-0231135603
- Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 1.2 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 9 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,261,637 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Epic of Evolution: Seven Ages of the Cosmos
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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.
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
Top customer reviews
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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.
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."
This is an unusually good science book.