One of the most fabulous revelations afforded by modern cosmology is the fact that we are all stars, literally. The elements which comprise our bodies (like iron or oxygen) were all forged in the burning cores of distant suns, before being flung across the endless wastes of space by the enormous force of stellar explosions. Great stuff!
Now well-known writer and respected astrophysicist John Gribbin has taken this fairy-tale bit of Big Science and used it as the central premise for a book: which describes how the cosmos made us, and what we can therefore make of the cosmos. It's essentially a biography of man from the molecular point of view, with diversions into evolution, astronomy, geology, extra terrestrial life, and so on. One of the more poetic notions covered is that of "panspermia", the idea that the seeds of life are continually being carried across the universe--like so many sycamore keys in an autumn wood. The author definitely sides with those who believe the answer to life is "out there".
As always with John Gribbin, the writing is fresh and accessible, the thinking clear if occasionally complex. The real joy of Stardust is its perspective: in contrast to so many pop cosmology writers, Gribbin has managed to tell a fairly well-known tale in an original and very satisfying way.--Sean Thomas
'Superb ... Gribbin has done it again ... the story of how the matter that makes up our bodies travelled from the stars ... a wonderful account' Sunday Times, Books of the Year
Every one of us is made of stardust, John Gribbin explains in this dazzling book. Everything we see, touch, breathe and smell, nearly every molecule in our bodies, is the by-product of stars as they live and die in spectacular explosions, scattering material across the universe which is recycled to become part of us.
It is only by understanding how stars are made and how they die that we can every understand how we came into being. Taking us on an enthralling journey, John Gribbin shows us the scientific breakthroughs in the quest for our origins. With the raw materials for creating life all around us, he concludes, it is impossible to believe we are alone in the universe.
'An incredible story ... gives a sense of the almost unbelievable coincidence of physical laws and circumstances that resulted in your being able to read these words today' Literary Review
'Gribbin skilfully and engagingly traces the historical sequence ... rather like Sherlock Holmes reading clues' New Scientist