With stunning regularity, the search for our cosmic roots has been yielding remarkable new discoveries about the universe and our place in it. In his compelling book, Origins: The Quest for Our Cosmic Roots, veteran science journalist Tom Yulsman chronicles the latest discoveries and describes in clear and engaging terms what they mean.
From the interior of protons to the outer reaches of the universe, and from the control room of one of the world's most powerful particle accelerators to an observatory atop the tallest mountain in the Pacific basin, Yulsman takes readers on a fantastic voyage at the cutting edge of science. How could the universe have sprouted from absolute nothingness? What is the origin of galaxies? How do stars and planets form? And despite what now seem to be incredible odds, how did Earth come to be a rich oasis of biodiversity-one that has given rise to a species intelligent enough to ask these questions? In laying out the answers, Origins addresses some of the most profound issues humans have ever confronted.
"In general, I believe that this book has the potential to be a great foil to accompany the standard astronomy textbooks, giving a great feel for the astronomers behind the discoveries that are shaping our view of the universe as well as a very clear exposition of many of the concepts involved … . I had not realised when I began to read the manuscript that the author was a professor of journalism rather than astronomy as the vast majority of the concepts covered were explained in such an exemplary fashion … . [the chapter on quantum mechanics] I thought was a wonderful chapter which made some of the concepts involved clearer to me than ever before … [the book] will provide the reader with a great breadth of topic, all treated with a depth that I have rarely found in reviewing many astronomy books … ."
-Ian Morison, The New Scientist
"Yulsman's book is a marvel of synthesis. In an epoch when discoveries are pouring Niagara-like from the skies, he has assembled the most important ones under one roof-and explained them clearly and enjoyably. Highly recommended."
-Keay Davidson, author of Carl Sagan: A Life
"It's easy to find poetry in the cosmos; far harder to find it in the physics that holds it all together. In Origins, reporter and science writer Tom Yulsman does just that. Taking on a subject no smaller than the origin of the universe, the birth of the planets, and the celestial science that holds the whole sprawling system together, Yulsman writes with authority and artfulness, casting his reportorial net wide and bringing back what he came after. Since the moment human beings began asking questions, the one they've wanted answered most is where it all began. Yulsman explains what we know so far."
-Jeffrey Kluger, coauthor of Apollo 13
"Origins is intended for general readers, whom Yulsman seeks to 'infect with the same fascination with nature' that drove his research. The book is for 'anyone who's ever looked up at the night sky on a clear night and had those thoughts … where did all this come from?' He hopes his book will strike a chord with the kind of readers who bought Stephen Hawking's A Brief History of Time but found the material difficult. 'That includes me,'' Yulsman acknowledges. He set out to write a book that would grapple with the same subject matter but in a much more accessible manner … Yulsman's artful prose and narrative style make it easier for the curious layperson to gain an understanding of some of the most complex physical aspects of the universe's emergence and structure. He uses metaphor and analogy to make concepts approachable … He also peppers the book liberally with fascinating people: scientists at work, immersed in research, and debate. Origin's characters are not just planets, galaxies, quarks, and neutrons, but mathematicians, physicists, cosmologists, astro-chemists, theoreticians of astronomy, geologists, even metero-hunters, all engaged in an effort to unravel answers to really big questions …Through visits and interviews with scientists engaged in cutting-edge research on these most profound issues, Yulsman shares with readers the amazing things we have learned … As a journalist, he is able to tell stories and use anecdotes to bring alive what can often be a very abstract set of ideas."
-Wendy Worrall Redal, Program Coordinator for the CEJ and editor of Connections