Books  Physical Sciences  Cosmology & Astronomy 

Cosmic Evolution: The Rise of Complexity in Nature

By: Eric J Chaisson

274 pages, B/w photos, illus, figs

Harvard University Press

Paperback | Oct 2002 | #133331 | ISBN: 0674009878
Temporarily out of stock: order now to get this when available Details
NHBS Price: £22.95 $29/€27 approx
Hardback | Dec 2000 | #119387 | ISBN: 067400342X
Out of Print Details

About this book

Addresses some of the most basic issues we can contemplate: the origin of matter and the origin of life, and the ways matter, life, and radiation interact and change with time. Guided by notions of beauty and symmetry, by the search for simplicity and elegance, by the ambition to explain the widest range of phenomena with the fewest possible principles, Chaisson designs for us an expansive yet intricate model depicting the origin and evolution of all material structures.

Chaisson is an astrophysicist at Tufts University, who has written many popular books on science. His newest offering is concerned with 'time's arrow,' a curve of rising cosmic complexity beginning with the big bang...Chaisson argues that rising complexity can be explained (or at least roughly described) by the laws of non-equilibrium thermodynamics, without any need to postulate new kinds of science or mysticism. He shows that in an expanding universe, local pockets of order will naturally arise even as the overall disorder (entropy) of the universe increases...What is most original about Chaisson's argument is his proposal of a quantitative way to measure complexity, and to plot the course of cosmic evolution using this measure. -- Chet Raymo Boston Globe 20001219 Cosmic Evolution is an illuminating book, and one that should appeal to both scientists and general readers. Seeing how the expansion of the Universe spawned all the living complexity around and within us creates a fuller appreciation of the entwined laws and flaws of Nature...This is a book that will encourage a greater energy flow between astrophysics and bioscience. -- John D. Barrow New Scientist Chaisson's project--the search for unifying patterns of change across the largest temporal and spatial scales--is a worthy one...[His] theory has the ring of rightness. -- Daniel W. McShea American Scientist 20011101 Chaisson's book provides exciting new testimony to the increasing power of non-equilibrium thermodynamics to change how we see ourselves and the world. -- Lynn Marguilis Times Higher Education Supplement 20011109 Chaisson argues that rising complexity can be explained... by the laws of nonequilibrium thermodynamics, without any need to postulate new kinds of science or mysticism ... What is most original about Chaisson's argument is his proposal of a quantitative way to measure complexity, and to plot the course of cosmic evolution using this measure? -- Chet Raymo Boston Globe An illuminating book, and one that should appeal to both scientists and general readers ... This is a book that will encourage a greater energy flow between astrophysics and bioscience. -- John D. Barrow New Scientist Chaisson's project--the search for unifying patterns of change across the largest temporal and spatial scales--is a worthy one... [His] theory has the ring of rightness? -- Daniel W. McShea American Scientist Chaisson's book provides exciting new testimony to the increasing power of non-equilibrium thermodynamics to change how we see ourselves and the world? -- Lynn Margulis Times Higher Education Supplement So Chaisson defines life as an "open, coherent, space- time structure maintained far from thermodynamic equilibrium by a flow of energy through it." Chaisson's approach leaves one wondering, perhaps absurdly In this creative, thought-provoking book, Chaisson shows how difficult even the most basic scientific question can turn out to be. -- Charles Seife Wilson Quarterly Surveys the grand scenario of cosmic evolution by examining natural changes among radiation, matter, and life within the context of big-bang cosmology. Using non- equilibrium thermodynamics and a suite of interdisciplinary arguments, the author follows the changes in energy within numerous well-known structures, including galaxies, stars, planets, and life. The Astronomical Society of the Pacific [Chaisson's] discourse covers a wide range, from the physics of the early Universe to the origin and nature of life, touching on issues such as the 'anthropic principle' in cosmology, the thermodynamics of non-equilibrium systems, Darwinian views on the evolution of life seen in the context of present-day molecular biology, and issues of cultural development. Thus, he takes seriously the modern biological synthesis and also places it in its proper physical and cosmological context, emphasizing interesting causal links. -- George Ellis Nature


Contents

Preface Prologue: Overview of Cosmic Evolution Introduction: The Nature of Change Chapter One: Matter Chapter Two: Radiation Chapter Three: Life Discussion: Evolution Broadly Considered Epilogue: A Grand Synthesis Symbols and Numerical Constants Glossary Notes Works Cited Further Reading Index About the Author

Write a review

There are currently no reviews for this product. Be the first to review this product!


Biography

Eric J. Chaisson is Research Professor of Physics and Astronomy and Director of the H. Dudley Center for Innovative Science Education at Tufts University. He is the author of Cosmic Dawn, nominated for the National Book Award for distinguished science writing.

Bestsellers in this subject

Observing the Night Sky with Binoculars

NHBS Price: £24.99 $32/€30 approx

Guide to the Night Sky

NHBS Price: £3.50 $4/€4 approx

Galaxy: Mapping the Cosmos

NHBS Price: £14.99 $19/€18 approx

Mars 3-D

NHBS Price: £14.99 $19/€18 approx

Space: A History of Space Exploration in Photographs

NHBS Price: £24.99 $32/€30 approx