How It Began: A Time-Traveler's Guide to the Universe

How It Began: A Time-Traveler's Guide to the Universe

by Chris Impey


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“Impey combines the vision of a practicing scientist with the voice of a gifted storyteller.”—Dava Sobel

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780393343861
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 01/14/2013
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 448
Sales rank: 629,850
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Chris Impey is a distinguished professor in the Department of Astronomy at the University of Arizona and the critically-acclaimed author of Beyond, How It Began, and How It Ends, and four other books, as well as two astronomy textbooks. He lives in Tucson, Arizona.

Table of Contents

Preface ix

Part I Proximate

1 Separated at Birth 3

2 Planetary Zoo 23

3 Distant Worlds 45

4 Stellar Nursery 71

5 The Edge of Darkness 95

Part II Remote

6 Island Universe 121

7 Cosmic Architecture 143

8 Nuclear Power 167

9 The Growth of Galaxies 189

10 Light and Life 215

Part III Alien

11 Big Bang 239

12 White Heat 265

13 Something Rather Than Nothing 289

14 Unification and Inflation 311

15 Multiverse 337

Notes 363

Illustration Credits 417

Index 419

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"What will especially impress [listeners] 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 drawn from everyday life." —-Booklist Starred Review

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