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

Telescopes are like time machines. Because it takes time for light to reach us, we see more and more distant regions of the universe as they looked in the successively greater past. Astronomer Chris Impey uses this concept of “look-back time” to take us on an intergalactic tour from current-day Earth to the first fractions of a second after the Big Bang. Pausing at landmarks such as the oldest star and the first ray of light, Impey not only provides stunning visual descriptions but also illustrates the latest theories of the origin of everything from black holes to matter itself. Along the way he introduces us to researchers tackling such mysteries as cosmic infla-tion and the possibility of parallel universes. Enlivened by vivid descriptions and lucid explanations, How It Began offers a breathtaking tour from the familiar sights of the night sky to the most remote frontiers of the enigmatic early universe.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780393080025
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 03/26/2012
Pages: 448
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.40(h) x 1.50(d)

About the Author

Chris Impey is a University Distinguished Professor in the Astronomy Department at the University of Arizona in Tucson. He has written popular pieces on astronomy and is the author of The Living Cosmos and How It Ends.

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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How It Began 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
MarkJPalmer More than 1 year ago
Book Review: “How It Began” by Chris Impey, W.W. Norton & Co., 434 p., 2012. Review by Mark J. Palmer Associate Director International Marine Mammal Project Earth Island Institute Berkeley, CA Chris Impey has written nothing less than the history of the universe in his new book, “How It Began: A Time-traveler’s Guide to the Universe.” This is an excellent layman’s guide to cosmology in all its facets, told in a breezy, interesting style.  Impey not only covers what we know about the universe and its history, he also includes a history of astronomy, showing the various evolving theories about the universe through many decades of changing ideas, often brought on by changes in technology in allowing us to see more and more of the universe as well as advances in subatomic structure. Impey also discusses what we don’t know – what the nature of dark matter and dark energy is, for example, or why the universe’s expansion is continuing to accelerate when gravity should be slowing down the expansion. And Impey manages to throw in an occasional anecdote about his own personal history as an astronomer, having used telescopes all over the world for various experiments.   His writing blends all these viewpoints into a seamless narrative that evokes a nice, informal conversation with an astronomer. A number of black and white illustrations and graphs help explain the various concepts Impey covers.  He avoids most math. He also adds in a science fiction-like introduction and ending to all his chapters, imagining himself physically (or mentally?) being in the middle of various stages of the universe’s history.  These sections may help the reader view the changes from a personal perspective, but for me, this part of his text really did not work.  It seemed superfluous and disjointed. In any event, I highly recommend the book as a great discussion of what is and what is not known about our universe, and how astronomers have learned what we know so far.  They are still searching for more answers, and having read Impey’s book, I’m sure they will find the answers, if it takes until the end of time. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ereader19 More than 1 year ago
I'm almost finished reading this book - and I LOVE it! This is mind-bending, fascinating stuff! 'How It Began' addresses ideas that help the lay person understand the universe, in all of it's infinite glory, without being too technical. It's written for those of us with a limited understanding of physics yet it does not talk down to the reader. Rather, it's like learning should be ... a story told by an intelligent friend. If you like astronomy, or just want to explore how the universe, and we, came to be, you'll enjoy this.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a comprehensive and challenging book about the Universe and its beginnings. You do feel like a time-traveler as you read along.Concentrate on the story line and learn!
bozoTX More than 1 year ago
Usually I love reading this kind of book but I'm having a really hard time getting into it... a little too technical for a liberal arts college graduate? Whatever... I keep going back to it but after a few minutes I find I put it down in frustration. Makes me feel like my little porsche SUV - way smarter than me.