403 pages, colour & b/w photos, colour & b/w illustrations
What is the nature of the material world? How does it work? What is the universe and how was it formed? What is life? Where do we come from and how did we evolve? How and why do we think? What does it mean to be human? How do we know?
There are many different versions of our creation story. Origins: The Scientific Story of Creation tells the version according to modern science. It is a unique account, starting at the Big Bang and travelling right up to the emergence of humans as conscious intelligent beings, 13.8 billion years later. Chapter by chapter, it sets out the current state of scientific knowledge: the origins of space and time; energy, mass, and light; galaxies, stars, and our sun; the habitable earth, and complex life itself. Drawing together the physical and biological sciences, Baggott recounts what we currently know of our history, highlighting the questions science has yet to answer.
"Jim Baggott's Origins [...] recount[s] the greatest story ever told: the evolution of the Universe since the Big Bang. This rich crossdisciplinary tale reminds us that astronomy, physics, chemistry, geoscience, biology and neuro science are interconnected. Baggott takes the reader on a linear, 13.8-billion-year journey. His [...] treatment abounds with excellent visuals. At its best, Origins reminds me of Richard Holmes's marvellous The Age of Wonder [...] Sweeping scope and detailed description [...] [Baggott] reminds us that big questions remain in this most wonderful scientific adventure."
– Michael S. Turner, Nature
"Origins should be on everyone's bookshelves, whether or not they are a devotee of popular science. [...] Origins is so clearly written, so engaging, so thought-provoking, that it wouldn't surprise me if it inspires a new generation to take up science."
– Mark Greener, Fortean Times
"this guided tour through space, mass, time and energy is spectacular"
"an impressive scientific tour-de-force, and a book which is perhaps itself a unique creation"
– Chemistry & Industry
"this book is a real tour de force [...] it is exceptionally well informed and well written"
– Network Review
"The collective mind of humanity has made extraordinary progress in its quest to understand how the current richness of the physical world has emerged, and Baggott with his characteristic lucidity and erudition, has provided an enthralling account of this wonderful and still unfolding intellectual journey."
– Peter Atkins
1: In the 'Beginning': The Origin of Space, Time and Energy
2: Breaking the Symmetry: The Origin of Mass
3: The Last Scattering Surface: The Origin of Light
4: Setting the Firmament Alight: The Origin of Stars and Galaxies
5: Synthesis: The Origin of Chemical Complexity
6: Sol: The Origin of the Sun and its Planets
7: Terra Firma: The Origin of a Habitable Earth
8: The Cosmic Imperative: The Origin of Life
10: A Song of Ice and Fire: The Origin of Species
11: The Human Stain: The Origin of Humanity
12: Cogito Ergo Sum: The Origin of Human Consciousness
Appendix: Powers of Ten
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Jim Baggott is a freelance science writer. He was a lecturer in chemistry at the University of Reading but left to work with Shell International Petroleum Company and then as an independent business consultant and trainer. His many books include Higgs: The Invention and Discovery of the 'God Particle' (2012), A Quantum Story: A History in 40 Moments (OUP, 2011) and A Beginner's Guide to Reality (Penguin, 2005).