342 pages, 47 b/w illustrations, 9 tables
Looking at the stars at night, we have all wondered where we have come from and why we are here. Our Cosmic Origins traces the remarkable story of the emergence of life and intelligence right through the complex evolutionary history of the Universe. Armand Delsemme weaves together a rich tapestry of science, bringing together cosmology, astronomy, geology, biochemistry and biology in this wide-ranging book. In following the complex, chronological story, we discover how the first elements formed in the early Universe, how stars and planets were born, how the first bacteria evolved towards a plethora of plants and animals, and how the coupling of the eye and brain led to the development of self-awareness and, ultimately, intelligence. Professor Delsemme concludes with the tantalising suggestion that the existence of alien life and intelligence is likely, and examines our chances of contacting it. This provocative book provides the general reader with an accessible and wide-ranging account of how life evolved on Earth and how likely it is to exist elsewhere in the Universe.
"I know of no other book that covers in such detail for a popular audience the grand sweep of cosmic evolution from the Big Bang to homo sapiens. Readers will find here an answer to the age-old question of our place in the universe as understood by modern science."
- Steven J. Dick, US Naval Observatory, Washington
"I am struck with admiration at the [...] encyclopedic knowledge condensed into this exceptional [book]."
- Gérard de Vaucouleurs, University of Austin
"Armand Delsemme's book is – by far – the best I have ever read on the subject."
- Henri Mertens, former Director at the European Broadcasting Union
"A thrilling book, a masterpiece [...]."
- Audouin Dollfus, former President of the Société Astronomique de France
"Translated seamlessly from the 1994 French edition and updated, this is a daringly wide-ranging book covering the origins and evolution of life, the universe and everything in a style that allows the non-specialist to enjoy it."
" [...] we could not recommend this book too highly. Armand Delsemme is a wonderful story-teller."
- Le Soir (Brussels)
" [...] a fascinating journey through the history of the universe that manages to explain the complex relationship between cosmic, chemical and biological evolution [...] Delsemme has included all the necessary explanatory material without ruining the flow of the narrative [...] [this is] a book that manages to condense the whole universe into a single, surprisingly plot driven and highly readable story.'
- Jon Evans, Chemistry in Britain
"This is a delightful book covering a breath-taking expanse of topics [...] a real pleasure to read."
- Okan Avni, School Science Review
"This book is highly recommended and once you start reading it, grips you like a good detective novel."
- Astronomical Society of WA
" [...] I would recommend it as an addition to any reference library."
- George Raggett, The Open University Geological Society
" [...] an excellent overview from the big bang origin of the universe to the development of life [...] will promote critical thinking on the many aspects of astrobiology bearing on the understanding of the cosmic significance and origins of life [...] recommended reading."
- Richard Taylor, Spaceflight
Preface Christian de Duve
1. Locating man in the universe
2. The race towards complexity
3. The stellar alchemy of metals
4. The formation of the planets
5. Emergence of life
6. History of life
7. Awakening of intelligence
8. The other worlds
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