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Origins - Fourteen Billion Years of Cosmic Evolution [Paperback]

Neil Degrasse Tyson , Donald Goldsmith
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

14 Oct 2014
Who can ask for better cosmic tour guides to the universe than Drs. Tyson and Goldsmith? Michio Kaku, author of Hyperspace and Parallel Worlds

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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; Reissue edition (14 Oct 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393350398
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393350395
  • Product Dimensions: 2.1 x 1.4 x 0.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 123,272 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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General readers of every stripe will benefit from the authors' sophisticated, deeply knowledgeable presentation. If the casual book buyer purchases one science book this year, this should be the one. --Jeff Zaleski

About the Author

Donald Goldsmithis an astronomy writer in Berkeley, California, and the author of more than twenty books.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars From the beginning 3 Mar 2005
By Stephen A. Haines HALL OF FAME
Writing for or from a TV science documentary is a challenge. The prose must address a wide spectrum of viewers' knowledge levels. The authors must neither insult nor overwhelm the viewer/reader. Tyson and Goldsmith have achieved that fine balance with this book. It provides a wealth of information about the origins and progress of the universe since its inception at the Big Bang. Tackling an amazingly complex subject, the authors break it down into a well-organised set of topics. Each step takes the reader into a more specific area of interest starting with what can be inferred about the earliest moments of the universe to the formation of planets.
Cosmology, even written for television, is a massive subject to impart. The range of subjects runs from immense forces to the minuscule movements of subatomic particles. The authors start at the smallest, but most powerful point - the time at which the entire universe was the size of a pinhead. From that initial condition, where all space and time were combined in a furiously energetic pellet, the authors follow the universe as it expands and cools. Black holes form and disappear, smudges of material begin to coalesce and the universe begins to display some patterns. Galaxies give birth to stars and planets appear where possible.
In depicting the events and conditions of universe building, the authors provide defining, useful explanations of many phenomena. The issue of "multiple universes" has gained many adherents in theoretical physics and cosmology. Because their very nature precludes observing them, the ranks of critics of the concept are about as equally swollen. "Dark matter", that mysterious material that would explain why things aren't moving about in the manner originally formulated, is clarified [at last!] well.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable 10 Jun 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
To start negatively, I was slightly disapointed after reading this book. Was expecting a bit more on this big and mystical subject that is "origins".
But being a very difficult subject, I would still rate the book as a 4 stars because I still learned a lot from reading it and the style of writing of the authors is enjoyable.

Theories and concepts are well explained and abordable by the amateur reader.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Life, the Universe, and Everything 10 April 2011
By anozama
The Origins of Life, the Universe, and Everything, written in a chatty and informative style.

The author relates the current theories of the early universe, the genesis of the elements, the planets, the stars, and (briefly) of life. On the way, we are told about antimatter, dark matter, and dark energy. He anticipates for us what the future may hold for the universe.

This represents a reasonable introduction to cosmology for a novice (like me).

I had tried other works before reading this, and found it covered much the same ground, hence for me it was a 'four star' rating - otherwise it may have been a 'five'.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.4 out of 5 stars  67 reviews
45 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding Science 23 Nov 2004
By Ron Atkins - Published on
Tyson and Goldsmith distill a complex subject of both immense philosophical and physical implications into 300 pages of readable text. The format is interesting, although it poses some material early on that is fairly daunting. The introduction to this subject I received by watching the 4-hour PBS production motivated me, however, to push through the tough stuff. As it turned out, the authors used the first chapter as an overview of everything, then used subsequent chapters to expand on individual concepts presented in the first chapter. I would have preferred the first chapter at the end, allowing the Preface to suffice as an introduction to the material. You may want to try reading the preface, then skipping ahead to the second chapter, saving the first chapter for last. This may keep you from tossing the book aside before giving it a fair chance. Just a thought. The title "Origins" threw me because I assumed it focused on Darwin's theory; however, this book is more than that, and combines elements of astrophysics, biology, and geology to describe how the universe was created, and the possibility of extra-terrestrial life. As Sagan would say, there appears to be billions and billions of opportunities for life in the universe.

For the serious scientist, I would further recommend: Steven Weinberg, author of several books on the subject, including: the "Quantam Theory of Fields" Volumes I and II, and "The First Three Minutes." Also, B. Reed's book "Quantam Mechanics: A 1st Course," and Brian Greene's "The Elegant Universe," seem to be popular. These books give a more detailed, math-heavy version of Origins.

As an amateur scientist, rather weak in mathematics, I am happy with the depth of studying Origins, and enjoyed the color photos in this book. Carl Sagan's books "Cosmos" and "Billions and Billions" are good supplements to this book, written at a similar level, approachable by non-scientists.
81 of 93 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A good starting point 17 Sep 2004
By J. Dretler - Published on
"Origins", Neil DeGrasse Tyson and Donald Goldsmith's new book, subtitled -the search for ourselves in the universe, has attempted much in tackling the real `biggest story ever told'. It is largely successful. It presents a general survey of cosmologic history from the `big bang' through the formation of galaxies, planets, and life with most of the emphasis on the earliest period. All of this is accomplished almost entirely without math, with some humor, and is a good starting point for the high school or college undergraduate student without a scientific background. It presents a more detailed scientific picture with less `wonder' than the late Carl Sagan's "Cosmos" but some readers may want more depth. For those I would recommend Steven Weinberg's "The First Three Minutes", or from the biologist's viewpoint, Morowitz's "The Emergence of Everything" which starts with the `big bang' and continues the story step-wise to explain complexity and emergence. For the general reader "Origins" presents an introduction to much mind-opening material including the mysterious `dark matter', isotropism, discussions about the curvature of space-time and the inflationary model of the universe that has the potential to stimulate further study or simply be enjoyed for itself.
23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Delightful Challenge for Non-Scientists 29 Oct 2004
By Diana K. Christopulos - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
If you saw the PBS special on "Origins," you know that Neil DeGrasse Tyson does a great job of translating astrophysics into normal human language. This book goes into much greater detail and merits a gradual reading by non-scientists like myself. The Preface is a clear introduction to the issues. The next section, Overture, is intentionally overwhelming with its "Greatest Story Ever Told." If you are not frustrated by this chapter, you know a lot more about physics than I do! Ah, but that is the point. Hang in there, because the rest of the book explains the Overture, one topic at a time. I am reading part of a chapter each day at lunch and find something amazing each day. This is a good book for people who want to challenge their assumptions about reality.
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Reflects Current Thinking and expresses it Clearly 30 Sep 2004
By John Matlock - Published on
There is no way we can think of for the elements that make up most of the world we know such as oxygen and carbon to exist except for them to have been 'cooked' in the center of stars. This is not exactly a simple concept, and the story of how we have learned this is remarkable in its own right.

In this companion to the PBS 'Nova' four hour special, the story of the origin of everything is explained by two excellent writers. Some years Carl Sagan did a similar book/show called 'Cosmos.' This new story is Cosmos brought up to date with the latest discoveries and theories, and done without so much of the 'Wow, how marvelous' that Sagan used.

Of particular interest to me was the discussion on the likelyhood of extra-terrestrial life in the Universe. Obviously no conclusion can be reached because we have not made contact with any other civilization, but on the other hand, it is impossible to prove a negative. The approach in this book is strictly scientific. Here is the Drake equasion, here is what the terms mean, we really have no idea of the answer.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exceptional! 21 Nov 2004
By J. B. Siders - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book was fantastic in terms of it's scope and presentation of astrophysics. It's easy to follow style and plain language make it a good read for even the most amateur science lover. Mr. Tyson does a great job of showing us how insignificant we really are in this galaxy (let alone the universe as a whole).
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