Epic of Evolution

Seven Ages of the Cosmos

Eric J. Chaisson. Illustrated by Lola Judith Chaisson

Columbia University Press

Epic of Evolution

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Pub Date: November 2005

ISBN: 9780231135610

504 Pages

Format: Paperback

List Price: $34.00£25.00

Pub Date: November 2005

ISBN: 9780231135603

504 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $100.00£74.00

Pub Date: November 2005

ISBN: 9780231509602

504 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $33.99£25.00

Epic of Evolution

Seven Ages of the Cosmos

Eric J. Chaisson. Illustrated by Lola Judith Chaisson

Columbia University Press

How did everything around us-the air, the land, the sea, and the stars-originate? What is the source of order, form, and structure characterizing all material things? These are just some of the grand scientific questions Eric J. Chaisson, author of the classic work Cosmic Dawn, explores in his enthralling and illuminating history of the universe. Explaining new discoveries and a range of cutting-edge ideas and theories, Chaisson provides a creative and coherent synthesis of current scientific thinking on the universe's beginnings. He takes us on a tour of the seven ages of the cosmos, from the formless era of radiation through the origins of human culture. Along the way he examines the development of the most microscopic and the most immense aspects of our universe and the complex ways in which they interact.

Drawing on recent breakthroughs in astrophysics and biochemistry, Chaisson discusses the contemporary scientific view that all objects-from quarks and quasars to microbes and the human mind-are interrelated. Researchers in all the natural sciences are beginning to identify an underlying pattern penetrating the fabric of existence-a sweepingly encompassing view of the formation, structure, and function of all objects in our multitudinous universe. Moreover, as Chaisson demonstrates, by deciphering the scenario of cosmic evolution, scientists can also determine how living organisms managed to inhabit the land, generate language, and create culture.

Epic of Evolution offers a stunning view of how various changes, operating across almost incomprehensible domains of space and nearly inconceivable stretches of time and through the evolutionary combination of necessity and chance, have given rise to our galaxy, our star, our planet, and ourselves.

This book is a tour de force exploring many of the major issues from the formation of the universe through the development of matter, galaxies, stars, heavy elements, the sun and planets, life, complex life, and society. It presents a valuable survey of these fields and shows how combinations of simpler systems transform into more complex systems.

Neil F. Comins, University of Maine, author of Heavenly Errors: Misconceptions About the Real Nature of the Universe

This is a grand synthesis of all things put into an evolutionary context. Chaisson clearly shows how the scientific method works. More than that, he conveys a sense of awe through his use of the Socratic method to explain a huge number of concepts and empirical observations. He also clearly states that many unknowns remain at just about every step of the way.

Paul F. Lurquin, Washington State University, author of Origins of Life and the Universe

His writing is clear and his overview will both educate and entertain the average reader.

Publishers Weekly

Greatly appealing for exuding the scientific spirit that asks not merely what things exist but why they exist.

Booklist

In clear prose, Chaisson simplifies complex subjects.

Gary Budzak, Columbus Dispatch

A vivid picture... Even the most knowledgeable of readers can learn... This is one epic I can recommend without hesitation.

Bill Barlow, Astronomy Now

A thoroughly enjoyable read, and I recommend it highly.

Science Books and Film

A current and coherent exploration of ideas.

Northeastern Naturalist
Preface
Prologue: Cosmological Overview
1. Particle Epoch: Simplicity Fleeting
2. Galactic Epoch: Hierarchy of Structures
3. Stellar Epoch: Forges for Elements
4. Planetary Epoch: Habitats for Life
5. Chemical Epoch: Matter Plus Energy
6. Biological Epoch: Complexity Sustained
7. Cultural Epoch: Intelligence to Technology
Epilogue: A Whole New Era
Further Reading
Glossary
Index

About the Author

Eric Chaisson holds research professorships in the departments of physics, astronomy, and education at Tufts University, where he directs the Wright Center for Science Education. He is the author of Cosmic Dawn: The Origins of Matter and Life; Cosmic Evolution: The Rise of Complexity in Nature; and several other titles. He lives in Concord, Massachusetts.