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How It Began: A Time-Traveler's Guide to the Universeby Chris Impey
Synopses & Reviews
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.
"Impey (How It Ends: From You to the Universe) takes readers on a mesmerizing journey through the 'labyrinth' that is our universe, following atoms through generation after generation of stellar cores from the Big Bang onward. Impey's time travelers are astronomers doing cosmic archeology in which the farther out in the universe one goes, the farther back in time one can see. Impey begins close to home, and closest in time, with the formation of our solar system, displaying both lyricism and wit ('the Moon splashes off the molten Earth. Venus is knocked on its ass such that it rotates opposite to all other planets'). Moving outward in the universe (and back in time toward the Big Bang), Impey discusses how to measure stellar distances and detect planets orbiting other stars. Stretching farther back, Impey explores galactic evolution, relativity, the large-scale structure of the universe, and the Big Bang. Fictional vignettes narrated by a space/time traveler ('The massive galaxy swims into view beneath my feet') bookend each chapter to personalize the material. Impey vividly illustrates the most complex topics, like string theory and dark energy, bringing a fresh, original voice to a much-told tale, making cosmology pleasurable to all readers. 75 illus. Agent: Anna Ghosh. Scovil Galen Ghosh." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Chris Impey has achieved the near-impossible: an accurate, up-to-date account of 'the state of the universe' that is told in gripping human terms. A great achievement and a 'must-read' book." Ben Bova, author of Faint Echoes, Distant Stars
"How It Began is the perfect companion to How It Ends — another star-studded tour of the cosmos, full of fascinating ports of call and revealing views of Earth, this time with imaginary voyaging which really brings the journey alive." Diane Ackerman, author of One Hundred Names for Love
"...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)
Telescopes are like time machines. Because it takes time for light to reach us, we see more and more distant regions of the universe as they looked in the successively greater past. Astronomer Chris Impey uses this concept of "look-back time" to take us on an intergalactic tour from current-day Earth to the first fractions of a second after the Big Bang. Pausing at landmarks such as the oldest star and the first ray of light, Impey not only provides stunning visual descriptions but also illustrates the latest theories of the origin of everything from black holes to matter itself. Along the way he introduces us to researchers tackling such mysteries as cosmic infla-tion and the possibility of parallel universes. Enlivened by vivid descriptions and lucid explanations, How It Began offers a breathtaking tour from the familiar sights of the night sky to the most remote frontiers of the enigmatic early universe.
About the Author
Chris Impey is a University Distinguished Professor in the Astronomy Department at the University of Arizona in Tucson. He has written popular pieces on astronomy and is the author of The Living Cosmos and How It Ends. He lives in Tucson, Arizona.
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