312 pages, illustrations
This is the remarkable story of how a fledgling field of science holds the promise of radically expanding our view of life and the universe as we know it. In 1957, as the world obsessed over the launch of the Soviet Sputnik satellite, another, less noticed space age was taking off. That year, astrophysicist Fred Hoyle and colleagues solved a centuries-old quest for the origin of the elements. The answer they found wasn't on Earth, but in the stars – their research showed that we are literally stardust. In this captivating story of an exciting new science, author Jacob Berkowitz weaves together the latest research in the field to reveal a dramatic new view of the night sky – not as an alien frontier, but as our cosmic birthplace.
"Our ancestors are stars in this 'extreme genealogy, ' which follows the history of discoveries that blossomed into a new field [...] Berkowitz gracefully chronicles the work and passion of physicists, chemists, and other 'stardust scientists' who probe the universe for signs of life."
- Scientific American
"[An] intriguing look at [...] 'stardust science, ' a surprising blend of astronomy and evolutionary biology [...] With an engaging tone and accessible science, Berkowitz shows how the current search for Earth-like planets orbiting other stars could also reveal [other life-forms] born of the same dust that made us."
- Publishers Weekly
"With a delightfully readable style, Jacob Berkowitz illuminates the greatest scientific story of our time: the search for humanity's origin and place in the cosmos."
- Steven J. Dick, former NASA chief historian and author of Life on Other Worlds
"In his lively and meticulous book, Berkowitz tells the incredible story of how we're discovering our true cosmic origins – reflected in every atom, molecule, and grain of matter in the universe. Read it and you'll never look at the night sky, or yourself, the same way again."
- Dr. Caleb Scharf, director of astrobiology at Columbia University and author of Gravity's Engines
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Jacob Berkowitz is a best-selling author and the winner of the 2009 American Institute of Physics Science Writing Award.