470 pages, 50 b/w illustrations
Where are we? Who are we? Do our beliefs, hopes and dreams mean anything out there in the void? Can human purpose and meaning ever fit into a scientific worldview?
Acclaimed award-winning author Sean Carroll brings his extraordinary intellect to bear on the realms of knowledge, the laws of nature and the most profound questions about life, death and our place in it all. In a dazzlingly unique presentation, Carroll takes us through the scientific revolution's avalanche of discoveries, from Darwin and Einstein to the origins of life, consciousness and the universe itself. Delving into the way the world works at the quantum, cosmic and human levels, he reveals how human values relate to scientific reality. An extraordinary synthesis of cosmos-sprawling science and profound thought, The Big Picture is Carroll's quest to explain our world.
Destined to sit alongside the works of our greatest thinkers, from Stephen Hawking and Carl Sagan to Daniel Dennett and E. O. Wilson, The Big Picture shows that while our lives may be forever dwarfed by the immensity of the universe, they can be redeemed by our capacity to comprehend it and give it meaning.
"Sean Carroll's lucid The Big Picture reveals how the universe works and our place in it. Carroll, a philosophically sophisticated physicist, discusses consciousness without gimmicks, and deftly shows how current physics is so solid that it rules out ESP for ever."
"'A highly enjoyable and lucid tour through a wide range of topics [...] even if you don't agree with what [Carroll] says, you are unlikely to be enraged by such an urbane and engaging lecturer; more likely, you will be enthralled."
– Wall Street Journal
"Carroll beautifully articulates the world view suggested by contemporary naturalism. Thorny issues like free will, the direction of time, and the source of morality are clarified with elegance and insight [...] This is a book that should be read by everybody."
– Carlo Rovelli, author of Seven Brief Lessons on Physics
"A tour de force that offers a comprehensive snapshot of the human situation in our infinitely strange universe, and it does this with highly accessible language and engaging storytelling."
"Carroll's new book reveals how physicists' quest to better understand the fundamental laws of nature has led to astonishing insights into life, the universe, and everything."
– Sabine Hossenfelder, Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Studies
"[Carroll] sets out to show how various phenomena, including thought, choice, consciousness, and value, hang together with the scientific account of reality that has been developed in physics in the past 100 years. He attempts to do all this without relying on specialized jargon from philosophy and physics and succeeds spectacularly in achieving both aims."
"Instead of feeling humbled and insignificant when gazing upward on a clear starry night, Carroll takes us by the hand and shows us how fantastic the inanimate physical Universe is and how special each animate human can be. It is lucid, spirited, and penetrating."
– Michael Gazzaniga, author of Who's in Charge? and Tales from Both Sides of the Brain
"A nuanced inquiry into 'how our desire to matter fits in with the nature of reality at its deepest levels,' in which Carroll offers an assuring dose of what he calls "existential therapy" reconciling the various and often seemingly contradictory dimensions of our experience."
– Maria Popova, Brain Pickings
"Carroll is the perfect guide to this wondrous journey of discovery. A brilliantly lucid exposition of profound philosophical and scientific issues [...]"
– Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"Weaving the threads of astronomy, physics, chemistry, biology, and philosophy into a seamless narrative tapestry, Sean Carroll enthralls us with what we ve figured out in the universe and humbles us with what we don't yet understand. Yet in the end, it s the meaning of it all that feeds your soul of curiosity."
– Neil deGrasse Tyson, host of Cosmos: A SpaceTime Odyssey
"Language philosophy, quantum mechanics, general relativity they're all in The Big Picture. Sean Carroll is a fantastically erudite and entertaining writer."
– Elizabeth Kolbert, author of New York Times bestseller The Sixth Extinction
"From the Big Bang to the meaning of human existence, The Big Picture is exactly that a magisterial, yet deeply fascinating, grand tour through the issues that really matter. Blending science and philosophy, Sean Carroll gives us a humane perspective on the universe and our place in it. As gripping as it is important, The Big Picture can change the way you think about the world."
– Neil Shubin, author of Your Inner Fish
"In this timely exploration of the universe and its mysteries both physical and metaphysical Sean Carroll illuminates the world around us with clarity, beauty and, ultimately, with much needed wisdom."
– Deborah Blum, director, Knight Science Journalism Program at MIT, author of The Poisoner's Handbook
"Sean Carroll is a leading theoretical cosmologist with the added ability to write about his subject with unusual clarity, flare, and wit."
– Alan Lightman, author of The Accidental Universe and Einstein's Dreams
"Guides us through several centuries worth of scientific discoveries to show how they have shaped our understanding and indeed how the laws of nature are linked to the most fundamental human questions of life, death, and our place in the cosmos."
– Barbara Hoffert, Prepub Alert, Library Journal
"A sweeping new perspective on how human purpose and meaning naturally fit into a scientific worldview."
– Selected as one of the top ten science books, spring 2016, Publisher's Weekly
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Sean Carroll is a theoretical physicist at the California Institute of Technology. In addition to the Royal Society Winton Prize, he has been awarded prizes and fellowships from the National Science Foundation, NASA, the American Physical Society and the American Institute of Physics. He lives in Los Angeles.