From Dust to Life: The Origin and Evolution of Our Solar System

Overview

The birth and evolution of our solar system is a tantalizing mystery that may one day provide answers to the question of human origins. This book tells the remarkable story of how the celestial objects that make up the solar system arose from common beginnings billions of years ago, and how scientists and philosophers have sought to unravel this mystery down through the centuries, piecing together the clues that enabled them to deduce the solar system's layout, its age, and the ...

See more details below
Hardcover
$21.74
BN.com price
(Save 27%)$29.95 List Price

Pick Up In Store

Reserve and pick up in 60 minutes at your local store

Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (21) from $15.98   
  • New (14) from $18.07   
  • Used (7) from $15.98   
From Dust to Life: The Origin and Evolution of Our Solar System

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK
  • NOOK HD/HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook - Course Book)
$16.49
BN.com price
(Save 44%)$29.95 List Price

Overview

The birth and evolution of our solar system is a tantalizing mystery that may one day provide answers to the question of human origins. This book tells the remarkable story of how the celestial objects that make up the solar system arose from common beginnings billions of years ago, and how scientists and philosophers have sought to unravel this mystery down through the centuries, piecing together the clues that enabled them to deduce the solar system's layout, its age, and the most likely way it formed.

Drawing on the history of astronomy and the latest findings in astrophysics and the planetary sciences, John Chambers and Jacqueline Mitton offer the most up-to-date and authoritative treatment of the subject available. They examine how the evolving universe set the stage for the appearance of our Sun, and how the nebulous cloud of gas and dust that accompanied the young Sun eventually became the planets, comets, moons, and asteroids that exist today. They explore how each of the planets acquired its unique characteristics, why some are rocky and others gaseous, and why one planet in particular--our Earth--provided an almost perfect haven for the emergence of life.

From Dust to Life is a must-read for anyone who desires to know more about how the solar system came to be. This enticing book takes readers to the very frontiers of modern research, engaging with the latest controversies and debates. It reveals how ongoing discoveries of far-distant extrasolar planets and planetary systems are transforming our understanding of our own solar system's astonishing history and its possible fate.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
10/14/2013
Planetary scientist Chambers and astronomy consultant Mitton trace the development of Western theories about the makeup of the solar system, from the Earth-centric model—which couldn’t account for such problems as the retrograde movement of the planets—to the current eight-planet model. They admit that “the jigsaw is not yet complete” (celestial bodies like asteroids, meteors, and comets remain imperfectly understood) but are convinced that science has come far enough to be certain of a great deal. Their painstaking explanations for lay readers outline the methods used for gauging such things as planetary age, as well as major theories about how our moon formed—the most widely accepted being that it broke off from Earth as a result of a collision with a giant meteor. They also briefly address the evolution of life on Earth and why we’re not likely to find complex forms on other planets in our vicinity. While the book is intended for general readers, an understanding of basic physics and geology is helpful. Despite the authors’ best efforts, some sections are not clearly explained, such as the one on “resonances” in the asteroid belt. Still, there is much solid information to be gleaned from careful reading. (Dec.)
From the Publisher

"[T]here is much solid information to be gleaned from careful reading."--Publishers Weekly

"[A] stellar read . . ."--Nature

"This is not your average tour of our solar system. Using clear, relatively jargon-free language, Chambers and Mitton provide a comprehensive examination of our current understanding of its formation, which should readily appeal to the general reader who enjoys scientific detail without getting into equations."--Library Journal

"I recently built an app about the solar system, and my research would have been made a lot easier if I had possessed a copy of this excellent book. It provides a truly comprehensive overview of our solar system's origins and is written in plain, jargon-free language."--Marcus Chown, New Scientist

"Chambers and Mitton stay focused on the science in From Dust to Life: unlike other books that create narratives around the scientists, they discuss the science and the history of its development, rather than the individuals who made it possible. That's a worthwhile trade: while there have been, and are today, interesting people studying the formation of the solar system, the science is even more fascinating as we find out just how complex the process is to turn a cloud of gas and dust into a star and planets."--Jeff Foust, Space Review

"[I]ncredibly thorough and detailed, yet very accessible to non-scientists too. . . . [A] compelling overview of the evolution of the Solar System."--Katia Moskvitch, BBC Sky at Night

"Read From Dust to Life to gain a fascinating perspective on the current state of the science behind solar system formation."--David Dickinson, Astro Guys blog

"This wild ride across the cosmos and through time covers a lot of territory but isn't merely a laundry list of observations. Instead, readers will find one lucid explanation piggybacked onto another. . . . The authors, a planetary scientist and a space science writer, make celestial mechanics comprehensible even to readers with more curiosity than scientific background. Yet there are still insights for those who regularly pore over the astronomy stories in Science News. Best of all, the authors help readers glimpse the why of it all."--Science News

"This book . . . is accessible to a scientifically literate general reader. . . . The author team is eminently qualified . . . one is a well-known planetary scientist and the other an experienced science writer. The result of their efforts is a highly readable book."--Star Formation Newsletter

"Chambers and Mitton present a well-researched, detailed, big-picture overview of the solar system that shows how all of people's observations of its contents contribute to a coherent model for its origin. The authors place the modern theory and latest observations in historical context by beginning each chapter with an overview of the development of these scientific ideas from their beginning."--Choice

Library Journal
10/15/2013
Given the subtitle, one might expect this book to restrict its subject matter to the sun, planets, and other local objects. However, after beginning with an overview of what we know about our solar system, how we came to know it, and what our scientific models explain about both the general characteristics and anomalies within the system, Chambers (planetary science, Carnegie Inst. for Science) and PhD astronomer Mitton (Titan Unveiled) provide more extensive background. The authors discuss the origin of the universe, stellar evolution, and galactic structure, while keeping everything within the context of how these phenomena help explain the formation and evolution of our own system. As they describe characteristics of different bodies (e.g., planets), they outline competing proposed scientific models in enough detail to show both strengths and weaknesses of each, along with what we do and don't know to date. VERDICT This is not your average tour of our solar system. Using clear, relatively jargon-free language, Chambers and Mitton provide a comprehensive examination of our current understanding of its formation, which should readily appeal to the general reader who enjoys scientific detail without getting into equations. Recommended.—Marcia R. Franklin, St. Paul, MN
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691145228
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 11/24/2013
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 323,246
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.40 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author


John Chambers is a planetary scientist in the Department of Terrestrial Magnetism at the Carnegie Institution for Science. Jacqueline Mitton is a writer, editor, and media consultant in astronomy. Her books include "Titan Unveiled: Saturn's Mysterious Moon Explored" (Princeton).
Read More Show Less

Table of Contents


List of Illustrations xi
Preface xv
ONE Cosmic Archaeology 1
A fascination with the past 1
A solar system to explain 3
Real worlds 9
Winding back the clock 12
Putting the pieces together 16
TWO Discovering the Solar System 19
Measuring the solar system 19
From wandering gods to geometrical constructions 22
The Sun takes center stage 25
Laws and order 27
Gravity rules 29
The missing planet 31
Asteroids enter the scene 34
Rocks in space 36
Uranus behaving badly 37
Completing the inventory 40
THREE An Evolving Solar System 43
A changing world 43
A nebulous idea begins to take shape 44
The nebular hypothesis in trouble 48
A chance encounter? 50
Nebular theory resurrected 54
FOUR The Question of Timing 56
Reading the cosmic clock 57
Early estimates: ingenious--but wrong 57
Geology versus physics 58
Radioactivity changes everything 61
Hubble and the age of the universe 63
How radioactive timers work 64
Meteorites hold the key 68
Dating the Sun 71
The age of the universe revisited 73
FIVE Meteorites 75
A dramatic entrance 75
Where do meteorites come from? 76
Irons and stones 80
Identifying the parents 83
Lunar and Martian meteorites 86
A rare and precious resource 87
What meteorites can tell us 88
SIX Cosmic Chemistry 92
Element 43: first a puzzle then a clue 92
An abundance of elements 94
The first elements 96
Cooking in the stellar furnace 98
Building heavier elements 104
Supernovae 105
SEVEN A Star Is Born 108
A child of the Milky Way 108
Where stars are born 110
First steps to a solar system 113
The solar system's birth environment 119
Essential ingredients 121
EIGHT Nursery for Planets 123
An excess of infrared 123
Two kinds of disks 125
Inside the solar nebula 129
Getting the dust to stick 131
The influence of gas 134
How to build planetesimals 135
The demise of the disk 137
NINE Worlds of Rock and Metal 140
Sisters but not twins 140
The era of planetesimals 141
Planetary embryos take over 144
The final four 147
Earth 148
Mercury 153
Venus 158
Mars 161
TEN the Making of the Moon 168
The Moon today 169
What the Moon is made of 170
The Moon's orbit 172
The fission theory 174
The capture hypothesis 175
The coaccretion hypothesis 176
The giant impact hypothesis 177
Encounter with Theia 179
Earth, Moon, and tidal forces 181
Late heavy bombardment 183
ELEVEN Earth, Cradle of Life 186
The Hadean era 186
The tree of life 191
The building blocks of life 193
The rise of oxygen 196
A favorable climate 199
Snowball Earth 202
Future habitability 204
TWELVE Worlds of Gas and Ice 205
Giants of the solar system 205
Building giants by core accretion 211
The disk instability model 214
Spin and tilt 215
Masters of many moons 217
Formation of regular satellites 219
The origin of irregular satellites 220
Rings 221
THIRTEEN What Happened to the Asteroid Belt? 225
The asteroid belt today 225
Ground down by collisions? 226
Emptied by gravity? 229
Asteroid families 231
The missing mantle problem 233
Asteroids revealed as worlds 236
FOURTEEN The Outermost Solar System 242
Where do comets come from? 242
Centaurs 246
Looking beyond Neptune 247
The Kuiper belt 248
Sedna 251
The nature of trans-Neptunian objects 252
Where have all the Plutos gone? 256
The Nice model 259
FIFTEEN Epilogue: Paradigms, Problems, and Predictions 263
The paradigm: solar system evolution in a nutshell 264
Unsolved puzzles 267
Searching the solar system for answers 268
Other planetary systems 271
Future evolution of the solar system 273
Glossary 277
Sources and Further Reading 291
Index 293
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)