cover image Genesis: The Story of How Everything Began

Genesis: The Story of How Everything Began

Guido Tonelli, trans. from the Italian by Erica Segre and Simon Carnell. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $26 (240p) ISBN 978-0-374-60048-8

“Where does all this come from?” asks particle physicist Tonelli in his elegant, accessible English-language debut. The author guides readers through a metaphorical seven days of genesis, a “collective adventure” of scientific exploration stretching from before the Big Bang to the rise of humans on Earth. Tonelli begins with the mystery of time before the Big Bang, making parallels to Greek myth in Hesiod’s Theogony, where “Chaos was first of all.” The author describes astronomer and priest Georges Lemaître’s work on forming the Big Bang theory in 1927, when the idea of an expanding universe disturbed scientists who envisioned one that was a static and unchanging, as put forth by Aristotle. Tonelli covers the formation of atoms, the onset of light, and the distribution of stars in the Milky Way. He also describes how particle accelerators and “super-telescopes” reveal the physics behind elementary particles, stars, and black holes. Tonelli’s storytelling successfully weaves curiosity, Greek mythology, and scientific discovery: “From quantum foam something even more astounding than the goddess of love and beauty will be born: an entire universe.” Already a bestseller in Italy, Tonelli’s lyrical story of creation is sure to ignite the imaginations of American readers. (Apr.)