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Martin Rees

Our Cosmic Habitat

In this book Sir Martin provides the reader with a snapshot of our current understanding of Cosmology, adding historical context when he feels it is necessary. If you want a blow by blow account of stellar development, inflation, extra-solar planets or any of the multitude of other topics discussed, then this is not the book for you. However, if you want to get a feeling for the current understanding of the universe, for what are regarded as the triumphs and failures of modern cosmology, for the areas of controversy, and for what are likely to be the growth areas in cosmological research in the next decade and beyond, all explained in a clear and lucid style by somebody who has himself been a leading researcher in the field for many years, then I can definitely recommend this book to you.

The book starts with an overview of what is currently known about the formation and development of stars, planets and galaxies. Along the way he begins to develop the central theme of the book, one that clearly fascinates him, and one that can be summed up in the question, 'why is our universe so biophilic?'. Perhaps it is chance? Maybe there is a designer? Or perhaps our universe is simply one of a huge multiverse, one in which conditions favour the evolution of life? Sir Martin's money is clearly on the latter idea which he argues for very persuasively.

Amazon.com info
Paperback 224 pages  
ISBN: 0691114773
Salesrank: 1007819
Weight:0.65 lbs
Published: 2003 Princeton University Press
Amazon price $22.01
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Amazon.co.uk info
Paperback 224 pages  
ISBN: 0753814048
Salesrank: 375455
Weight:0.49 lbs
Published: 2003 W&N
Amazon price £8.99
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Amazon.ca info
Paperback 224 pages  
ISBN: 0691114773
Salesrank: 1012727
Weight:0.65 lbs
Published: 2003 Princeton University Press
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Product Description

Our universe seems strangely ''biophilic,'' or hospitable to life. Is this happenstance, providence, or coincidence? According to cosmologist Martin Rees, the answer depends on the answer to another question, the one posed by Einstein's famous remark: ''What interests me most is whether God could have made the world differently.'' This highly engaging book explores the fascinating consequences of the answer being ''yes.'' Rees explores the notion that our universe is just a part of a vast ''multiverse,'' or ensemble of universes, in which most of the other universes are lifeless. What we call the laws of nature would then be no more than local bylaws, imposed in the aftermath of our own Big Bang. In this scenario, our cosmic habitat would be a special, possibly unique universe where the prevailing laws of physics allowed life to emerge.

Rees begins by exploring the nature of our solar system and examining a range of related issues such as whether our universe is or isn't infinite. He asks, for example: How likely is life? How credible is the Big Bang theory? Rees then peers into the long-range cosmic future before tracing the causal chain backward to the beginning. He concludes by trying to untangle the paradoxical notion that our entire universe, stretching 10 billion light-years in all directions, emerged from an infinitesimal speck.

As Rees argues, we may already have intimations of other universes. But the fate of the multiverse concept depends on the still-unknown bedrock nature of space and time on scales a trillion trillion times smaller than atoms, in the realm governed by the quantum physics of gravity. Expanding our comprehension of the cosmos, Our Cosmic Habitat will be read and enjoyed by all those--scientists and nonscientists alike--who are as fascinated by the universe we inhabit as is the author himself.