cover image Where Did the Universe Come From? And Other Cosmic Questions

Where Did the Universe Come From? And Other Cosmic Questions

Chris Ferrie and Geraint F. Lewis. Sourcebooks, $17.99 (256p) ISBN 978-1-7282-3881-4

Physicists Ferrie (Quantum Physics for Babies) and Lewis (The Cosmic Revolutionary’s Handbook) lead a tour through space and time in this accessible exploration of the universe’s greatest mysteries. In an effort to show how quantum science (about “the world of the very small”) and the cosmos (“the whole shebang”) are closely connected despite being “the two extremes of human understanding,” the authors cover a wealth of cosmological phenomena and scientific concepts. Thermodynamics (in the answer to “Why is the universe so smooth?”) and chemistry (“Where did the elements come from?”) are up first and serve as a foundation for understanding and appreciating more theoretical concepts, such as quasars, which help to explain how “we unravel[ed] the chemistry of the heavens”; a discussion of why every star doesn’t become a black hole; and a deep-dive into dark energy, which plays a role in whether “the end of the universe is really the end.” Though the early, more basic explanations are often choppy and repetitive, the authors hit their stride in later chapters as they get into knottier topics. Historical anecdotes, dashes of humor, and the authors’ passion keep things moving. Readers curious about cosmology will find this a good place to start. (Sept.)