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Our true origins are not just human, or even terrestrial, but in fact cosmic. Drawing on recent scientific breakthroughs and the current cross-pollination among geology, biology, astrophysics, and cosmology, Origins explains the soul-stirring leaps in our understanding of the cosmos. From the first image of a galaxy birth to Spirit Rover's exploration of Mars, to the disco Our true origins are not just human, or even terrestrial, but in fact cosmic. Drawing on recent scientific breakthroughs and the current cross-pollination among geology, biology, astrophysics, and cosmology, Origins explains the soul-stirring leaps in our understanding of the cosmos. From the first image of a galaxy birth to Spirit Rover's exploration of Mars, to the discovery of water on one of Jupiter's moons, coauthors Neil deGrasse Tyson and Donald Goldsmith conduct a galvanizing tour of the cosmos with clarity and exuberance.


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Our true origins are not just human, or even terrestrial, but in fact cosmic. Drawing on recent scientific breakthroughs and the current cross-pollination among geology, biology, astrophysics, and cosmology, Origins explains the soul-stirring leaps in our understanding of the cosmos. From the first image of a galaxy birth to Spirit Rover's exploration of Mars, to the disco Our true origins are not just human, or even terrestrial, but in fact cosmic. Drawing on recent scientific breakthroughs and the current cross-pollination among geology, biology, astrophysics, and cosmology, Origins explains the soul-stirring leaps in our understanding of the cosmos. From the first image of a galaxy birth to Spirit Rover's exploration of Mars, to the discovery of water on one of Jupiter's moons, coauthors Neil deGrasse Tyson and Donald Goldsmith conduct a galvanizing tour of the cosmos with clarity and exuberance.

30 review for Origins: Fourteen Billion Years of Cosmic Evolution

  1. 5 out of 5

    David

    Two excellent science writers collaborated on this book. The title describes the overall theme quite well; the origin of the universe, galaxies, stars, elements, solar systems, planets, and life. The last chapter discusses the search for extra-terrestrial life. Some of the chapters are imbued with a fun sense of humor--while others are lacking in humor, though still well-written. I wonder if the reason is that and each author tackled entire chapters, so each chapter represents the style of its au Two excellent science writers collaborated on this book. The title describes the overall theme quite well; the origin of the universe, galaxies, stars, elements, solar systems, planets, and life. The last chapter discusses the search for extra-terrestrial life. Some of the chapters are imbued with a fun sense of humor--while others are lacking in humor, though still well-written. I wonder if the reason is that and each author tackled entire chapters, so each chapter represents the style of its author. I suspect--based on other books of his that I've read--that Tyson is the humorous writer. I enjoyed the end of Chapter 5, which describes what will happen to the universe in a hundred billion years from now: By then, the Milky Way will have coalesced with its nearest neighbors, creating one giant galaxy in the literal middle of nowhere. Our night sky will contain orbiting stars, (dead and alive) and nothing else, leaving future astrophysicists a cruel universe....Enjoy cosmology while you can. Another humorous digression starts out by mentioning that lithium has been useful as an antidepressant medication: Lithium rides down a one-way street because every star has more effective nuclear fusion reactions to destroy lithium than to create it. As a result, the cosmic supply of lithium has steadily decreased and continues to do so. If you want some, now would be a good time to acquire it. I also very much appreciated the mention of Alar and Juri Toomre, two brothers who simulated the effects of colliding galaxies. As a graduate student, I took a few excellent classes from Juri Toomre. And I remember a seminar that he gave on the subject of galaxies colliding! It's nice to encounter a professor who was influential in my life, mentioned in a popular book such as this one. I read this book in the hard-cover edition--I would recommend reading a printed edition rather than an e-book, as it contains a number of beautiful high-resolution photographs. Most of the photographs are not mentioned in the text of the book, but extensive captions help guide the reader to understand their context. I just loved the humor in the book's preface, which mentions a cartoon showing someone gazing up at the stars, and remarking, "When I look at all those stars, I'm struck by how insignificant they are".

  2. 4 out of 5

    Bradley

    Almost all of my stars on this one is for the ease for which Tyson explains the cosmos, the clarity, and the breadth of astrophysics itself. The one star that's missing is just because it's all stuff I've read before. :) In other words, it's great if you're looking for an introductory and nearly math-less course on everything from the Big Bang to the formation of the planets to the building blocks and observed results of our search for extra-terrestrial life. That's it. It's a great refresher, too Almost all of my stars on this one is for the ease for which Tyson explains the cosmos, the clarity, and the breadth of astrophysics itself. The one star that's missing is just because it's all stuff I've read before. :) In other words, it's great if you're looking for an introductory and nearly math-less course on everything from the Big Bang to the formation of the planets to the building blocks and observed results of our search for extra-terrestrial life. That's it. It's a great refresher, too, if that's your thing, and as for the tidbits like how we're figuring out and classifying the planets turning around other stars, there's even a great explanation for that, too. Hint: doppler shift. :) All in all, it's very well-written and enjoyable if not crammed with surprises. It's meant to put our feet firmly in the science of we know well and of the others, the ones we understand more or less well, we qualify that we're always on the search for new and better questions in a game of controlled ignorance. :) I totally recommend this for laymen and the curious.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Becky

    I wish that I could rate this book higher. I really like Neil deGrasse Tyson, and I really like this subject, but this book was... not great for me. Maybe it was the fact that I did the audio rather than reading it with my own eyeballs, but it just didn't work for me. I found the technicality off-putting. It was hard for me to focus on this book when there are just random facts and figures being thrown at my ears. I've read quite a few science books this year, and they were all interesting and e I wish that I could rate this book higher. I really like Neil deGrasse Tyson, and I really like this subject, but this book was... not great for me. Maybe it was the fact that I did the audio rather than reading it with my own eyeballs, but it just didn't work for me. I found the technicality off-putting. It was hard for me to focus on this book when there are just random facts and figures being thrown at my ears. I've read quite a few science books this year, and they were all interesting and entertaining and accessible, and I learned something from all of them. But this one just didn't work for me. I really WANTED to love it, but I don't think that this book is really aimed at a casual reader who has an interest in science and cosmology, because the level of technical info is pretty high. I think that there's a middle-ground possible, but this one didn't quite get there. There seems to be a lack of cohesion. Facts and data points are just thrown out there and the reader is supposed to know what to do with them. Or maybe it just really was the format... or just the wrong time for me to try to read it. It is a busy time of year and I'm way behind on my reading goals and maybe I just wasn't as focused as I should have been and missed some key things that would tie everything together. Regardless, I ended up returning the audiobook to Audible... Maybe I'll try to get this in a ebook or print form at some point down the road and see if that makes a difference in my enjoyment.

  4. 5 out of 5

    aPriL does feral sometimes

    'Origins' is the best explanatory introduction to the formation and evolution of the Cosmos I have read! Co-author Neil deGrasse Tyson is an astrophysicist and co-author Donald Goldsmith is an astronomy writer, and in my opinion, they make a good team. The book is the most coherently arranged science book on this subject I have ever tried. It has five parts: Part I: The Origin of the Universe Part II: The Origin of Galaxies and Cosmic Structure Part III: The Origin of Stars Part IV: The Origin of Pla 'Origins' is the best explanatory introduction to the formation and evolution of the Cosmos I have read! Co-author Neil deGrasse Tyson is an astrophysicist and co-author Donald Goldsmith is an astronomy writer, and in my opinion, they make a good team. The book is the most coherently arranged science book on this subject I have ever tried. It has five parts: Part I: The Origin of the Universe Part II: The Origin of Galaxies and Cosmic Structure Part III: The Origin of Stars Part IV: The Origin of Planets Part V: The Origin of Life (space aliens! - maybe) There are 17 chapters. I learned a great deal that I had never understood or had known about recent mainstream discoveries and theories gleaned from the Hubble Space Telescope, the Galileo spacecraft that explored Jupiter in 1995, the Cassini-Huygens spacecraft that explored Saturn in 2004, and WMAP (Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe) that was launched in 2001 to study the cosmic background radiation. Oh my, but I wish that fricking James Webb Space Telescope is completed before I die... The two authors filled in many gaps in my knowledge, such as why most scientists think there was a Big Bang. A fascinating narrative in Chapter 1 'In the Beginning' mixes speculations as well as what has been gleaned from actual measurements and observations about the expansion of the Universe. I never knew about how particles and photons were so energized it took a while before the production of atoms was possible - about ten minutes into the cool down of the Big Bang. I have heard endlessly (another Universe pun, sorry) about the cosmic background radiation (CBR) which had been accidentally detected in 1965 (pigeon poop was involved) after years of predictions by respectable Big Brain scientists since the 1940's. I did not have a clue why everyone thought it was proof of the Big Bang, only that the CBR was it somehow. Microwaves are coming from everywhere today, with maybe some matter/gravity gaps. Scientists can actually detect, measure and have mapped visually the CBR back to the beginning of the Universe. Atoms began to form shortly after the Big Bang and gravity began to effect what had been only a particle soup, maybe causing the gaps of matter. The CBR was a proof of concept for astrophysicists because these now evenly distributed microwave spectrum waves can be traced back to almost the beginning of time, maybe just when the Universe was 380,000 years old. These current measurable microwaves were once ferocious gamma-ray and X-ray photons in the era of the Big Bang. Eventually the CBR will be measured as being in the radio wave spectrum in another one hundred billion years, no longer microwaves photons anymore, as the photons lose more and more of their original energy from the Big Bang. The temperature of the Universe, which scientists can measure, dropped as the size of the Universe expanded. How do they know the Universe is expanding, btw? The Doppler Effect of light! The explanation about how many ways scientists are using the Dopplar effect, such as to find exosolar planets, was astonishing! Briefly, but with the most coherent explanations I have ever read, the authors explain the creation of atoms, space dust, types of suns and galaxies, dark energy, dark matter, elements (as in the element table), and what has been learned about some of the planets and their moons. Included in the back of the book are a glossary of terms, a section for further reading, and an Index. Two sections of photos are included that add depth (sort of a pun, you know, it's all about Space) to the explanations. Heisenberg and Schrodinger are driving along the Autobahn when they are stopped by a police officer. The cop says to Heisenberg, who is driving, "Do you know how fast you were going?!" Heisenberg says, "No, but I knew where I was." "OK, smart guy," says the cop, "I'm going to search your car." So he does, and then comes back to the window. "Did you know you have a dead cat in a box in the truck?" Schrodinger says, "No, but I do now."

  5. 5 out of 5

    Liz

    “However, every advance in our knowledge of the cosmos has revealed that we live on a cosmic speck of dust, orbiting a mediocre star in the far suburbs of a common sort of galaxy, among a hundred billion galaxies in the universe. The news of our cosmic unimportance triggers impressive defense mechanisms in the human psyche.” A short personal note: Forget hot actors and actresses, singers, models. If I had the chance to meet a famous person I'd totally go for Neil deGrasse Tyson. Or Michio Ka “However, every advance in our knowledge of the cosmos has revealed that we live on a cosmic speck of dust, orbiting a mediocre star in the far suburbs of a common sort of galaxy, among a hundred billion galaxies in the universe. The news of our cosmic unimportance triggers impressive defense mechanisms in the human psyche.” A short personal note: Forget hot actors and actresses, singers, models. If I had the chance to meet a famous person I'd totally go for Neil deGrasse Tyson. Or Michio Kaku, but preferably Tyson. Astrophysics has always been a passion of mine, even before my love for literature so this book felt like a trip to my 8-year-old self who walked around with books on astronomy and suffered from severe sleep deprivation because she prefered to watch the stars and the moon rather than sleep. I was a strange child, I realise that, antisocial except when given the chance to talk about the nightsky, that's when I came alive. This book covers an enormous period of time, fourteen billion years, and even provides some interesting thoughts concerning the future of our planet and galaxy. The theme of the book is clear, it deals with the origin of the universe, the various types of galaxies, the formation of the clusters, all the types of stars, the origin of the planets and life in general. It concerns itself with vague topics like dark matter and dark energy and black holes, all the mysteries of the universe, all that is still theory and will maybe remain a theory forever. It provides answers or at least suggests possible answer to hundreds of questions one might ask him/herself about how everything turned out the way it did. Despite the difficulty of the entire topic, it is an understandable, even fun read due to Tyson's unique sense of humour. The chapters that are less humorous are still highly enjoyable for the reason that both authors are talented when it comes to writing. Every single chapter is very well-written, elaborate and provides just enough explanations to intrigue but not confuse. I repeat, the book is not as intricate as the majority of the books that concern themselves with astrophysics, which is a great think because it is more likely that people who are generally curious pick such a book up rather than a highly scientific monster with formulas and one technical term after another. Let's be honest, people who aren't deeply "into" that topic will never understand a highly scientific beast, but they will easy get this one. And I think it is a good thing for it encourages people to think outside the box, to question and doubt and look for more. “... informed ignorance provides the natural state of mind for research scientists at the ever-shifting frontiers of knowledge. People who believe themselves ignorant of nothing have neither looked for, nor stumbled upon, the boundary between what is known and unknown in the cosmos.” What I also appreciated was the fact that in every chapter scientists who are usually overlooked were mentioned, their theories who led other scientists to question and doubt and in the end find answers where they had never expected them to. I loved how the development of the various theories, experiments, simulations was dealt with and how one scientist's thought was based on another one's and so on and so forth back to Newton. Thus, this book provides not only an insight into the past of the universe but into the human discoveries and mentions all the important personas in this field of studies. Loved it. I hope I will find enough free-time to read Tyson's book Death by Black Hole soon though it seems unlikely with all the required reading for university... “In the beginning, there was physics.”

  6. 4 out of 5

    Raoufa Ibrahim

    Me when I finished the book --- Part 1: Origin of the universe If you ever saw our earth -the complete photo- or the the Milky Way and wonderd how it became like this? why it look like this? HOW we reached this point? THEN this book will answer you, it may not answer you fully since there are questions until now scientist couldn't answer. "knowing where you came from is no less important than knowing where you are going" --- Part 2,3,4: The origin of the Galaxies Stars Planets --- The final parts: Life o Me when I finished the book --- Part 1: Origin of the universe If you ever saw our earth -the complete photo- or the the Milky Way and wonderd how it became like this? why it look like this? HOW we reached this point? THEN this book will answer you, it may not answer you fully since there are questions until now scientist couldn't answer. "knowing where you came from is no less important than knowing where you are going" --- Part 2,3,4: The origin of the Galaxies Stars Planets --- The final parts: Life on other planets what are the essential elements for life? which of the planets have potential to contain life? the most important is to apply "Copernican theory‏" .. We are NOT the center of the universe so we must stop searching for life in other planets assuming it must look like us or they must have our air and water to sustain life! And If by a miracle- which actually happened- we found planets like Earth "leaving us face to face (as F.Scott Fitzgerald wrote in The Great Gatsby )with something commensurate with man's capacity to wonder." At the end of the book and as Carl Sagan liked to say "you had to be made from wood not to stand in awe of what the cosmos has done." --- We shall not cease for exploration And the end of all our exploring Will be to arrive where we started And know the place for the first time -T.S.Eliot

  7. 5 out of 5

    Max

    DeGrasse Tyson and Goldsmith give us a wide ranging look at the beginning of everything: The universe, galaxies, stars, planets, even life itself. They discuss a myriad of topics such as: The Big Bang and cosmic inflation; how the elements are made; the structure and composition of the universe; the likelihood of alien life. With this extensive scope in a relatively short book nothing is covered in depth. For the science enthusiast who has read similar books there isn’t much new. Still I enjoyed DeGrasse Tyson and Goldsmith give us a wide ranging look at the beginning of everything: The universe, galaxies, stars, planets, even life itself. They discuss a myriad of topics such as: The Big Bang and cosmic inflation; how the elements are made; the structure and composition of the universe; the likelihood of alien life. With this extensive scope in a relatively short book nothing is covered in depth. For the science enthusiast who has read similar books there isn’t much new. Still I enjoyed this one. It was very well written and nicely tied together diverse concepts. I read a 2014 reissue but it was written in 2004 and had not been updated. So for descriptions of the planets and moons in our solar system or the discovery of exoplanets, the results of a decade of additional exploration are not included. Neither, of course are recent discoveries in particle physics such as the Higgs boson. Still, I think the book is a good choice for someone who just wants to read one book to survey astrophysics. Readers who have some knowledge of physics will, of course, get more out of it. While not highly technical the text is beyond introductory. The writing is pretty straight forward but there is some tongue in cheek. Science buffs may already be familiar with the story of the student science project about a risky chemical: dihydrogen monoxide. At the fair the student set out a sign that listed its dangers: A component of acid rain; can kill you if inhaled; dissolves most things it contacts; causes severe burns as a gas; found in cancerous tumors. 86% of the people who visited the booth signed a petition to ban this peril. You may know it better by its chemical notation H2O. The authors wonder if this is the real reason we can’t find water on Mars.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Kurt

    We shall not cease from exploration And the end of all our exploring Will be to arrive where we started And know the place for the first time . . . -- T. S. Eliot, 1942 Hardly any scientific discoveries of the past century have flowed from the direct application of our senses. They came instead from the direct application of the sense-transcendent mathematics and hardware. This simple fact explains why, to the average person, relativity, particle physics, and eleven-dimensional string theory make no We shall not cease from exploration And the end of all our exploring Will be to arrive where we started And know the place for the first time . . . -- T. S. Eliot, 1942 Hardly any scientific discoveries of the past century have flowed from the direct application of our senses. They came instead from the direct application of the sense-transcendent mathematics and hardware. This simple fact explains why, to the average person, relativity, particle physics, and eleven-dimensional string theory make no sense. Add to this list black holes, wormholes, and the big bang. -- Neil deGrasse Tyson, from Origins The universe is fascinating and complex. Despite the diligent efforts of the brightest minds of the past few centuries, no unifying "theory of everything" has emerged or seems likely to emerge. Instead, it seems, the more we learn about the universe, the more we find new unexplained (and seemingly unexplainable) complexities. This was really a great book for explaining our current level of understanding of the universe. I am sure that I will never be able to comprehend even a sizable percentage of what the great scientists understand about it. But likewise, I am also sure (especially after reading this book) that the great scientists are equally unable to comprehend even a sizable percentage of all that there is to know and understand. I really appreciate Neil deGrasse Tyson for his efforts to make this truly important and fascinating information more accessible and understandable to ordinary people like me.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Yesenia Cash

    I’m buying this on audible!!!! I love science, if I was reborn I’d definitely be some form of scientist. Not that I know all the terminology, far from it! However, I feel like the repetitiveness of listening to these types of books will one day make it stick to my brain!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Ripu Jain

    When a book with the title Origins: 14 Billion Yeas of Cosmic Evolution, starts with an opening line “In the beginning, there was physics”, and is written by NDT the man himself, you cant go wrong with it. An extraordinary story needs an extraordinary story-teller, and NDT is no ordinary human - does an exceptional job translating the modern understanding of astrophysics to normal language. Its the ultimate origins story told - from origin of the universe at the moment of creation (10^-43 second When a book with the title Origins: 14 Billion Yeas of Cosmic Evolution, starts with an opening line “In the beginning, there was physics”, and is written by NDT the man himself, you cant go wrong with it. An extraordinary story needs an extraordinary story-teller, and NDT is no ordinary human - does an exceptional job translating the modern understanding of astrophysics to normal language. Its the ultimate origins story told - from origin of the universe at the moment of creation (10^-43 second after the big bang), to the exponential inflation of universe in 1st 3 minutes, to plasmaoidal era of the universe for next 300,000 years, to era of 1st particle formation and photon releases (which get stretched into CMBR waves), to formation of vast cosmic structure (thanks to gravity and dark matter and energy of empty space aka dark energy), to formation of first galaxies and supermassive black holes, to the formation of first starts and solar systems, to formation of planets and moons, and finally to origins of life itself. This is one of the few books I managed to finish within 2 weeks of starting. If a casual science enthusiast wants to read a cosmology book this year, make it this one. You will feel your brain get blown and smarter at the same time

  11. 4 out of 5

    Becca

    I'm not actually finishing this book. I refuse. The way it's written is so off-putting. It's redundant and smarmy. The authors explained the "photon fog" condition of the early universe fully three times on one page and then again in the next chapter. They also managed to take shots at religion, sci-fi, and non-scientists all within the first 50 pages. And the info that they're writing about isn't even that ground-breaking; they appear to be covering theories that have been around for at least t I'm not actually finishing this book. I refuse. The way it's written is so off-putting. It's redundant and smarmy. The authors explained the "photon fog" condition of the early universe fully three times on one page and then again in the next chapter. They also managed to take shots at religion, sci-fi, and non-scientists all within the first 50 pages. And the info that they're writing about isn't even that ground-breaking; they appear to be covering theories that have been around for at least the last 20-25 years, and generally longer. Like, get over yourselves, gentlemen. Seriously. If you're looking for quality popular science writing that doesn't address you like you're a total idiot and does cover ideas that actually are new and weird and fun, check out The Elegant Universe and leave this thing on the shelf.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Ric

    It takes a lot for me to read nonfiction, I just don’t find it as enjoyable unless it’s a subject that I’m really interested in. I’ve always liked science, and Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Astrophysics For People in a Hurry was pretty good so I decided to pick this one up. It was also good, though still a very dry read. It was interesting to read about the the makeup of the universe, as well as it’s creation. And if you’re interested in this subject, you’ll probably really enjoy this book. But it’s usu It takes a lot for me to read nonfiction, I just don’t find it as enjoyable unless it’s a subject that I’m really interested in. I’ve always liked science, and Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Astrophysics For People in a Hurry was pretty good so I decided to pick this one up. It was also good, though still a very dry read. It was interesting to read about the the makeup of the universe, as well as it’s creation. And if you’re interested in this subject, you’ll probably really enjoy this book. But it’s usually tough for me to get through nonfiction, so personally I liked this book, but I wouldn’t say that I loved it.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Farhana

    Ah, this reminds me of this Gemini Syndrome song ~ "Look at the wake From the stardust pouring from your eyes It's no mistake You are perfect You are perfect in my mind And you won't fade away" However, the fact is you might be just as insignificant as anything else out there. And you might wonder why there had to be all these bigbang, formation of stars, planetary systems, galaxies, why the simplest of atoms had to come into being and fuse themselves into others, and why after all there is this Earth Ah, this reminds me of this Gemini Syndrome song ~ "Look at the wake From the stardust pouring from your eyes It's no mistake You are perfect You are perfect in my mind And you won't fade away" However, the fact is you might be just as insignificant as anything else out there. And you might wonder why there had to be all these bigbang, formation of stars, planetary systems, galaxies, why the simplest of atoms had to come into being and fuse themselves into others, and why after all there is this Earth where the materials of life clumped together, evolved, and now there YOU are - living your goddam life which is next to nothing both in terms of eternity and existence! And everything is just going about their business in their taken-for-granted existence till the end comes. This has been a clean, organized piece, clear-cut and very well written indeed. Neil has been as eloquent as ever. And as a wordsmith, I feel he has really mastered some traits of Sagan. Will be looking forward to two of his upcoming shows (Startalk and Cosmos) this year.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Alan Fuller

    In a book that is supposed to be about origins, Tyson gets on the bus at the first stop rather than at the beginning. He says that in the beginning there was physics. Okay. Where did the laws and constants found in physics come from? What a cop out!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Eric

    In the beginning, something something something happened. Here is something that sort of resembles math describing it. Here are some Greek letters, you remember those, right? Here is a confusing analogy for it. And finally, here is an attempt at a joke that makes you cringe. That's how I'm afraid I will remember "Origins", which I think is a shame. I like NDT, I enjoyed the PBS Nova special, and I've always been fascinated by astronomy, physics, and cosmology. The book, however, is a bit of a dis In the beginning, something something something happened. Here is something that sort of resembles math describing it. Here are some Greek letters, you remember those, right? Here is a confusing analogy for it. And finally, here is an attempt at a joke that makes you cringe. That's how I'm afraid I will remember "Origins", which I think is a shame. I like NDT, I enjoyed the PBS Nova special, and I've always been fascinated by astronomy, physics, and cosmology. The book, however, is a bit of a disappointment when held against the tremendous potential of the subject matter. NDT is best when talking with his hands, expressing with his face, and with a giant planetarium at his disposal to illustrate his point (this being one of his day jobs). Watching him and seeing his genuine enthusiasm and awe pulls you in and brings you closer to his analogies and explanations. It also helps you shrug off some of his "scientist" humor. In text much of this is lost, to the detriment of the poor reader. For example, his analogy that negative space is shaped "like a saddle" leaves you wondering, "What? Curved up like a u? Down like an n? Both? Neither? Smelly, uncomfortable, and straddling a cosmic horse? Good God man answer me!" Unfortunately without hands or an effective illustration to make the point clearer to a layman, you are left to shrug your shoulders and soldier onward. In my opinion the most trying chapters by far are the ones that deal with the Universe as a whole. These are also front-loaded in "Origins", so I found myself on page less-than-100 a looooong time. The current theories on origins, expansion, space, dark energy, dark matter, and all of the ENORMOUS issues that comprise what (some) believe to be the best explanations for it all can fill volumes- or a pamphlet. These are the kinds of topics you can summarize in a few sentences with little "meaty" explanation, or you can devote a lifetime of research to understand. Everything I've seen in between leaves you holding the book sideways in confusion. This is the fate of the layman, I suppose, but the book includes full-color illustrations of galaxies, nebulae, planets, and other things. Why couldn't they include conceptual diagrams to help illustrate some of these complicated topics? For cripes sake there is a picture of NDT standing with someone at Arecibo that doesn't illustrate anything at all! Cynicism tells me useful pictures would have cut into the "Pretty picture ink/space" that helped sell the book to those who just wanted to throw it on their coffee table without reading it, as with "A Brief History of Time". The discussions of the cosmological constant, fate of the Universe, dark energy/matter, gravity, other dimensions, and one thing after another give you just enough detail to want to know and understand more... and then it's off to an ending paragraph of navel-gazing, philosophizing, or a joke that rarely hits its mark. These things wouldn't be so frustrating if NDT weren't very good at what he does, inspiring wonder and curiosity in people about the Universe. For every time I got bogged down, the authors would then reveal a fascinating concept or finding. This is a half awesome, half never-gonna-finish-it book. Many of the revelations are things I had read before, with better explanations, but some people have never been exposed to certain theories. "Origins" does a good job of trying to organize and package a LOT of information in a single volume. This is a strength that makes it worth recommending to some, and a weakness that will leave others feeling its reach (even as a summary volume) far exceeds its grasp. For Baby Boomers who may have lost interest in science after mandatory school, the findings of the last few decades may blow their minds. This book is an excellent summary that can point the way to further reading. If you can get past the typos, that is. Simple, inexplicable mistakes like missing letters, misspellings, words, and other things even a computerized editor should have found appear everywhere. If you're going to explain to someone the origins and fate of the Universe, galaxies, stars, and planets, at least have a couple of people proofread it. Also, the thinly-veiled harping on issues like Creationism and defense of the scientific method were unnecessary. You're preaching to the choir fellas. Do you really think someone who picked up a book like "Origins" is going to need an explanation of why the scientific method is a valid approach? Use some of that room to flesh out more than a passing reference to topics it's pretty clear you don't feel like discussing, such as String theory, or include a blasted picture of something in the actual context where it's mentioned. If you're interested in astronomy or astrophysics I recommend buying a relatively recent used textbook over "Origins". It might not look as pretty or fit as conveniently on your living room bookshelf, but it will likely get you closer to the heart of a brave new world of understanding that is constantly expanding. Plus it's unlikely to have as many covert Op-Ed jabs. If that sounds a bit too daunting, pick up "Origins" and you'll at least get a Reader's Digest version of a very, very, VERY big picture.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Esme

    So, this is the book that got me obsessed with the possibility of life in our own solar system, being Jupiters moons - and most importantly, Europa. It goes into detail about how the moons of Jupiter have a liquid, salty ocean that have all the ingredients for life, we just need to get there! This is a GREAT book about the history of everything. I would put it on par and along the same lines of Short History of Nearly Everything, and A Brief History of Time. All of these are great books, but I'd So, this is the book that got me obsessed with the possibility of life in our own solar system, being Jupiters moons - and most importantly, Europa. It goes into detail about how the moons of Jupiter have a liquid, salty ocean that have all the ingredients for life, we just need to get there! This is a GREAT book about the history of everything. I would put it on par and along the same lines of Short History of Nearly Everything, and A Brief History of Time. All of these are great books, but I'd say that this one is the *most* accessible to everyone. Neil has a way of explaining things so everyone can understand, without making it feel like he's belittling you or talking down to you. All of the books I listed are written by people who have a passion for the subject, but Neil is the one who makes it the most apparent how much he loves his profession and his passion for learning is contagious. Love this guy!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Dan

    Origins was a surprisingly easy and enjoyable read. I think that Neil deGrasse Tyson and Donald Goldsmith chose an excellent theme in deciding to write this book through the lens of beginnings. This focus allowed them to cover the basics of everything from the origins of the universe to the beginning of life on earth and beyond in a concise and coherent narrative that expertly shifts the reader's focus between the everyday sensory world, the unimaginably large scale of the galaxies, and the infi Origins was a surprisingly easy and enjoyable read. I think that Neil deGrasse Tyson and Donald Goldsmith chose an excellent theme in deciding to write this book through the lens of beginnings. This focus allowed them to cover the basics of everything from the origins of the universe to the beginning of life on earth and beyond in a concise and coherent narrative that expertly shifts the reader's focus between the everyday sensory world, the unimaginably large scale of the galaxies, and the infinitesimally small realm of quantum mechanics. Tyson's humor and wit along with his clear style of writing complement his fluency of the subjects covered and do well to elucidate a historically murky and frequently misunderstood area of science.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Naz (Read Diverse Books)

    Full review: http://wp.me/p7a9pe-4V Neil deGrasse Tyson is one of my favorite smart people in the whole world. He has written numerous books on astrophysics and science in general, narrated the incredible science documentary TV show "Cosmos," leads the "StarTalk Radio" podcast, and does a million other things that help and enrich our world. Full review: http://wp.me/p7a9pe-4V Neil deGrasse Tyson is one of my favorite smart people in the whole world. He has written numerous books on astrophysics and science in general, narrated the incredible science documentary TV show "Cosmos," leads the "StarTalk Radio" podcast, and does a million other things that help and enrich our world.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Ashley

    There's so much information in this book that I'm still processing it. So in short, I'll continue to visit this book over and over again. There's so much information in this book that I'm still processing it. So in short, I'll continue to visit this book over and over again.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Samantha

    Despite the complexity of the subject matter, this book was very understandable. That is one of the strengths of Neil DeGrasse Tyson's writing (and that of his writing partner in this project, Donald Goldsmith). That being said, much of the material covered in the book was still beyond my comprehension. However, since I am very interested in the "stuff" out there in the cosmos, I really enjoyed this book. As the title implies, the book covers topics from the very beginning of the universe to now Despite the complexity of the subject matter, this book was very understandable. That is one of the strengths of Neil DeGrasse Tyson's writing (and that of his writing partner in this project, Donald Goldsmith). That being said, much of the material covered in the book was still beyond my comprehension. However, since I am very interested in the "stuff" out there in the cosmos, I really enjoyed this book. As the title implies, the book covers topics from the very beginning of the universe to now and beyond. A lot of it is, by necessity, theoretical, though strongly based in logic and backed by mathematics. And most of it is simply amazing. For instance, regarding the very first moments of the universe: The inflationary era lasted from about 10 to the -37 second to 10 to the -33 second after the big bang. During that relatively brief stretch of time, the fabric of space and time expanded faster than light, growing in a billionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a second from one hundred billion billion times smaller than the size of a proton to about 4 inches. Yes, the observable universe once fit within a grapefruit. Like I said, amazing. Those with more of a science and math background (or those who don't believe in the big bang) may not find this particularly impressive, but from this layperson's perspective, it was fascinating. Traveling methodically through the last 14 billion years, the authors endeavor to explain everything from the mysteries of dark matter and dark energy to how planets form to how life on Earth began to the probability of other life in the universe. The verdict? We're very probably not the only ones. Why? 'Cause the universe is just that big and it's unlikely we're the only ones out there. One of my favorite excerpts comes in the next to last chapter, "Searching for Life in the Milky Way Galaxy." It deals with why no advanced alien life forms have contacted us yet (UFO sightings do not count as scientific evidence): Why should they? Just what about our planet makes us special to the point that we merit attention from extraterrestrial societies, assuming that they exist? On this point more than any other, humans have consistently violated the Copernican principle [that we're not the center of the universe]. Ask anyone why Earth deserves scrutiny, and you are likely to receive a sharp, angry stare. Almost all conceptions of alien visitors to Earth, as well as a sizable part of religious dogma, rest on the unspoken, obvious conclusion that our planet and our species rank so high on the list of universal marvels that no argument is needed to support the astronomically strange contention that our speck of dust, nearly lost in its Milky Way suburb, somehow stands out like a galactic beacon, not only demanding but also receiving attention on a cosmic scale. If nothing else, this book really puts our significance in perspective. It's not saying we're not important. But our importance needs to be measured on a much smaller scale than the entire universe. There is so much out there to still be discovered, so much left to learn. To think we're the most interesting things out there is to limit imagination. And the photos included in the book are absolutely amazing, too.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Ryan Lawson

    This was a great book to contrast Brian Greene's The Elegant Universe. At face value, one would assume that both books are similar because they a) deal with physics and b) cover the universe; but it's not that simple. If there's one thing I've learned from these scientific exposés it's this (best said by Tyson himself!): "You must also find a way to reconcile two currently incompatible branches of physics: quantum mechanics (the science of the small) and general relativity (the science of the lar This was a great book to contrast Brian Greene's The Elegant Universe. At face value, one would assume that both books are similar because they a) deal with physics and b) cover the universe; but it's not that simple. If there's one thing I've learned from these scientific exposés it's this (best said by Tyson himself!): "You must also find a way to reconcile two currently incompatible branches of physics: quantum mechanics (the science of the small) and general relativity (the science of the large)." So, if Greene's book was a wonderful insight into the world of quantum mechanics then Tyson's is a perfect example of general relativity in action. (Of course, Greene's manuscript is actually an attempt via string-theory to connect the two conflicting branches of physics; but it still offers a plethora of information in the ways and history of quantum mechanics, more so than general relativity.) I must say that I am more of a general relativity man myself. Quantum mechanics is too theoretical for me. That's not to say that general relativity doesn't have it's own abrasive theoretical moments, but it's all just easier for me to swallow. Neil deGrasse Tyson does a splendid job of presenting the information in a way that doesn't overwhelm the reader but also emboldens the reader's sense of intellect. This is a smart book for readers who want to survey the cosmos without becoming completely submersed in the scientific language of its theories. Perhaps, the best thing about this book (along with Greene's) is that it also gives a detailed history lesson. So, the reader not only gets to let their imaginations run wild with thoughts of deep space exploration, cosmic disasters, tumultuous beginnings, and universal existence but they also are empowered with the knowledge of who is responsible for such discoveries. This book is also filled with interesting little factoids such as: "Earth's Moon has about 1/400 of the Sun's diameter, but is also just about 1/400 as far from us as the Sun, giving the Sun and the Moon the same size on the sky--a coincidence not shared by any other plant-moon combination in the solar system, and one that grants earthlings uniquely photogenic total solar eclipses." Something like that really makes one ponder a divine existence! It's so amazing to realize that through these scientific books I actually gain an even more confident and spiritual outlook on the universe. Origins just really gives an ultimate sense of connectivity with the cosmos. Neil covers the origins of the universe and everything within it in an exceptional, learned manner. A special addition to this text, I think, are the two sections of photographs of galaxies, planets, and stars.

  22. 4 out of 5

    George

    This is a wonderful tour through basic astronomy into the newer, more unknown aspects of the final frontier. Those who know Mr. Tyson and his efforts to promote "science literacy" might not particularly fancy this. Alternatively, some may already know this information due to textbooks or being in school for the subjects. I'm one of those people who's in school for something completely unrelated to science and astronomy. While that may be the case, it did its job in informing me of things that may This is a wonderful tour through basic astronomy into the newer, more unknown aspects of the final frontier. Those who know Mr. Tyson and his efforts to promote "science literacy" might not particularly fancy this. Alternatively, some may already know this information due to textbooks or being in school for the subjects. I'm one of those people who's in school for something completely unrelated to science and astronomy. While that may be the case, it did its job in informing me of things that may be harder to find in other places. I try to keep up-to-date with news from NASA and space, so now I feel like I'm more prepared for those articles on ScienceDaily and other outlets. If you're unfamiliar with astronomy this is easily one of (if not the) best sources you can come by. It's reminiscent of Carl Sagan and his works, but this has a more polished feel to it. The chapters about dark matter, black holes and the origins of the universe are fantastic. Recommended completely over everything else.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Reinis Simanovskis

    Great book to give an insight on how we go from the big bang to the origination of life - which though is still quite unclear. I like Neil deGrasse Tyson quite a lot as his tv appearances are always with great style & enthusiasm - thus was a bit disappointing as had higher expectations from how his book was written. Was a bit tough to follow in the parts about galaxies & suns forming (though maybe because that's what I knew the least before) but the parts about speculations of how life can form o Great book to give an insight on how we go from the big bang to the origination of life - which though is still quite unclear. I like Neil deGrasse Tyson quite a lot as his tv appearances are always with great style & enthusiasm - thus was a bit disappointing as had higher expectations from how his book was written. Was a bit tough to follow in the parts about galaxies & suns forming (though maybe because that's what I knew the least before) but the parts about speculations of how life can form on earth or anywhere else I enjoyed immensely.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Esteban

    Deep research and terrific narrative about the origin of everything you can find in the universe from subatomic particles all the way thru intelligent life. It uses a very friendly language to go over some very complex stuff while being plagued with interesting good to know things and even some humor. I did love it.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    This is one of the most amazing books I have read in my life. All around us, our planet, the universe is a work of art. Fourteen Billion years of unbelievable history that leads us to this moment. Breath taking. Five Stars easily

  26. 5 out of 5

    Evelina | AvalinahsBooks

    I can't really rate this cause I listened to it specifically for the purpose of falling asleep at night xD it wasn't boring, I guess stuff about the cosmos and stuff just lulls me to sleep. It was interesting, I just can't really rate it cause I'm not sure how many parts I actually slept through xD I can't really rate this cause I listened to it specifically for the purpose of falling asleep at night xD it wasn't boring, I guess stuff about the cosmos and stuff just lulls me to sleep. It was interesting, I just can't really rate it cause I'm not sure how many parts I actually slept through xD

  27. 5 out of 5

    Earl Grey Tea

    I am a fan of Neil deGrasse Tyson and got chose this book from a list on Audible during one of their buy one get one free sales. One of the things that I like about Tyson is his ability to make astronomy and cosmology approachable to the average person. Unfortunately, the first part of this book wasn't very easy for someone to wrap their head around. I took an astronomy class in college (quite a few year ago), and I was desperately trying to follow along to his explanation of the first moments of I am a fan of Neil deGrasse Tyson and got chose this book from a list on Audible during one of their buy one get one free sales. One of the things that I like about Tyson is his ability to make astronomy and cosmology approachable to the average person. Unfortunately, the first part of this book wasn't very easy for someone to wrap their head around. I took an astronomy class in college (quite a few year ago), and I was desperately trying to follow along to his explanation of the first moments of the universe as explained by the Big Bang Theory. Once the book came down to the galactic level and below, it was much more easy to follow and enjoyable. How the universe formed and what is the true shape of the universe was something that I had a hard time following right out of the gate. There is a lot of great and valuable information in this book that people can learn. However, I think the biggest issue with this book is the order in which the story of the universe is told. Instead of starting with the entire universe and moving down to the planets and their potential life forms, I think a reverse order would have been better. Start with things (planets and life) that people are familiar with. As these ideas are explained and people become more familiar with astronomical and cosmological terms and ideas, then tackling the origins of the universe would be less overwhelming to an average reader.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Brandon Milton

    It has often been said that Neil DeGrasse Tyson serves the role as the modern era Carl Sagan - A brilliant scientist with a knack for communicating passion and knowledge to others. In this collaboration with Donald Goldsmith, Tyson solidifies this idea. This book serves as an excellent introduction to knowledge about the universe, our solar system, and our current space endeavors. Although some parts may be a little technical, the information is conveyed with a casual demeanor using easy-to-unde It has often been said that Neil DeGrasse Tyson serves the role as the modern era Carl Sagan - A brilliant scientist with a knack for communicating passion and knowledge to others. In this collaboration with Donald Goldsmith, Tyson solidifies this idea. This book serves as an excellent introduction to knowledge about the universe, our solar system, and our current space endeavors. Although some parts may be a little technical, the information is conveyed with a casual demeanor using easy-to-understand structure. The only fault of this book is its medium. As our knowledge of the universe continues to grow, as theories advance, and as our space missions progress, the content of the book remains the same. Thus, there is some outdated information regarding the progress of certain missions, especially New Horizons. Nonetheless, the book serves as a great starting point for anyone interested in astronomy, astrophysics, or science in general. It also serves as a great afternoon read for those who wish to be continuously humbled by the fact that we are indeed just cosmic dust.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jamie (TheRebelliousReader)

    4 stars. Definitely enjoyed Astrophysics for People in a Hurry more than this one but it was still a really good listen. The narrator does a great job and it was very informative and interesting. I just really enjoy listening to this topic on audiobook. Don't ask me why, but it is really comforting and relaxing to me and I honestly cannot for the life of me explain why. I recommend this book if you're into the subject, but again, like with Tyson's other book, this is not a starting place or intr 4 stars. Definitely enjoyed Astrophysics for People in a Hurry more than this one but it was still a really good listen. The narrator does a great job and it was very informative and interesting. I just really enjoy listening to this topic on audiobook. Don't ask me why, but it is really comforting and relaxing to me and I honestly cannot for the life of me explain why. I recommend this book if you're into the subject, but again, like with Tyson's other book, this is not a starting place or introduction into the subject of Astrophysics. You're gonna need a little bit of knowledge but even if you don't know too much about it and still want to just jump in, go for the audiobook at least. I'm looking forward to getting my hands on another audiobook by Tyson because the guy is awesome and makes what could be a very confusing subject a whole lot of fun.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jay

    For a science book that according to reviews is “accessible”, I found it a bit more challenging than I expected. I’ve read/listened to a number of pop science books over the years, and I do expect some challenges to think the concepts through if they are new. Here, I found the explanations were a mix of simple, with beautiful and funny metaphors, to complex, where the authors took multiple tacks at explanations. Certainly, part of the problem was likely that I listened to the audio version of th For a science book that according to reviews is “accessible”, I found it a bit more challenging than I expected. I’ve read/listened to a number of pop science books over the years, and I do expect some challenges to think the concepts through if they are new. Here, I found the explanations were a mix of simple, with beautiful and funny metaphors, to complex, where the authors took multiple tacks at explanations. Certainly, part of the problem was likely that I listened to the audio version of this book. Audio does not lend itself to stopping and reflecting while reading, and from my experience here, this is one of those books that demands some reflection. Unless, of course, if it is all review for you. Then you are just reading it for the jokes and the analogies. Overall, a reasonable state-of-the-art review of cosmology.

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