Cambridge University Press
January 25, 2001
Looking at the stars at night, we have all wondered where we have come from and why we are here. Our Cosmic Origins traces the remarkable story of the emergence of life and intelligence right through the complex evolutionary history of the Universe. Starting from the searingly hot soup of exotic particles in the Big Bang, we are taken on a breathtaking chronological tour, right up to the present day, and the recent reported findings of bacteria in Martian meteorites and planetary systems around other nearby stars.
Armand Delsemme weaves a rich tapestry of science, bringing together cosmology, astronomy, geology, biochemistry and biology in this wide-ranging book. In following the complex chronological story, we discover how the first elements formed in the early Universe, how stars and planets were born, how the first bacteria evolved towards a plethora of plants and animals, and how the coupling of the eye and brain led to the development of self-awareness and, ultimately, intelligence.
Throughout the book, the author shows how this ascent always seems to follow the easiest route. He suggests that however complex and torturous this evolution has been, it is unlikely to be unique. The author concludes with the tantalizing suggestion that the existence of alien life and intelligence is likely, and examines our chances of contacting it.
This provocative book provides the general reader with an accessible and wide-ranging account of how life evolved on Earth and how likely it is to exist elsewhere in the Universe.
Armand Delsemme is Distinguished University Professor of Astrophysics, Emeritus, at the University of Toledo in Ohio. He is author of more than 240 scientific papers. A scholar of international renown, his scientific research has concentrated on comets, their chemistry and origin, and their role in bringing volatile and organic molecules to Earth. He has lectured throughout the world – in 34 countries – to both popular and academic audiences. Asteroid 2954 has been officially named ‘Delsemme’ in his honour. His hobbies include skiing, sailing and collecting ancient astronomical books.