(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Using fundamental scientific principles from string theory to relativity, Neil deGrasse Tyson and Donald Goldsmith explore the scientific processes that may have generated the cosmos in Origins: Fourteen Billion Years of Cosmic Evolution. Starting from the Big Bang, they successively discuss the gradual formation of galaxies, clusters of galaxies, stars, planets, and the origin of elements from supernova explosions. During the journey, they explore many mysteries of the universe, including antimatter, dark matter, dark energy, hidden dimensions, multiple universes, and the origin of life. Although many gaps remain in gaining a thorough understanding of the cosmos, Tyson and Goldsmith do a good job of extending readers’ knowledge to the limits that modern-day science permits.

Since the first chapter presents a comprehensive overview of what is to come in succeeding chapters, it may be a rather difficult read for the lay person. But the remainder of the book explains the concepts of chapter one in clear, vivid details that provide a very understandable explanation of a very complex story. Insights into deep physical and philosophical implications are the reward for all readers. Since the book is strictly focused on the scientific principles that govern the historical development of the universe, the approach taken by the authors is how the cosmos evolved from inanimate systems without any mention of the possibility that the evolution may have been directed by life. In the last chapter, the authors discuss the search for extraterrestrial life, with possible locations for finding it in our solar system being Mars, Europa, or Titan.