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In this vibrant, eye-opening tour of milestones in the history of our universe, Chris Impey guides us through space and time, leading us from the familiar sights of the night sky to the dazzlingly strange aftermath of the Big Bang.What if we could look into space and see not only our place in the universe but also how we came to be here? As it happens, we can. Because it takes time for light to travel, we see more and more distant regions of the universe as they were in the successively greater past. Impey uses this concept "look-back time" to take us on an intergalactic tour that is simultaneously out in space and back in time.
Performing a type of cosmic archaeology, Impey brilliantly describes the astronomical clues that scientists have used to solve fascinating mysteries about the origins and development of our universe.The milestones on this journey range from the nearby to the remote: we travel from the Moon, Jupiter, and the black hole at the heart of our galaxy all the way to the first star, the first ray of light, and even the strange, roiling conditions of the infant universe, an intense and volatile environment in which matter was created from pure energy. Impey gives us breathtaking visual descriptions and also explains what each landmark can reveal about the universe and its history. His lucid, wonderfully engaging scientific discussions bring us to the brink of modern cosmology and physics, illuminating such mind-bending concepts as invisible dimensions, timelessness, and multiple universes.
A dynamic and unforgettable portrait of the cosmos, How It Began will reward its readers with a deeper understanding of the universe we inhabit as well as a renewed sense of wonder at its beauty and mystery.
Chris Impey is a University Distinguished Professor in the Astronomy Department at the University of Arizona in Tucson. He is the author of the "endlessly inspiring" (New Scientist), "wonderful" (The Times Higher Education), How It Ends (ISBN 978 0 393 33998 7).
"...readers learn just how many astrophysical mysteries scientists have already penetrated and how many more they hope to unravel with daring new grand unified theories of the universe. But what will especially impress readers is just how entertaining Impey can make science as he regales them with his own piquant experiences as a researcher and translates arcane mathematics into metaphors (guitar strings, apple pies, Tootsie Pops) drawn from everyday life. Readers will never find more intellectual adventure packed into fewer pages."
- Booklist, starred review
"...Chris Impey's How It Began is a joy for the layman. His style is informative and entertaining...an intergalactic gem."
- Patrick Neale, Booksellers' Choice, The Bookseller