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Krauss L.M. Atom: An Odyssey from the Big Bang to Life on Earth… and Beyond

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Krauss L.M. Atom: An Odyssey from the Big Bang to Life on Earth and Beyond
Boston: Little, Brown & Co. - 2001 – 318 p. The world’s religions too speak of creation and transformation, of life and death and sometimes resurrection. The cycle of life — birth, death, and birth again — has occurred with clocklike regularity, on scales ranging from minutes to millennia, over the course of eons on Earth. But together, all these many lives and deaths represent merely a snapshot in cosmic time. The universe we understand existed for almost twice as long before Earth was formed as it has existed since the cosmic bits of rock and dust first coalesced together around a medium-size star at the edge of the Milky Way galaxy. And we know for certain that the universe will continue to exist, largely unchanged, for at least twice as long again, long after our own sun has puffed up and swallowed the Earth, and before it in turn slowly dies, like an ember in a fireplace losing its glow in the dark at the end of a long winter’s night.
We are said to go from ashes to ashes, dust to dust. But though our nature compels us to think of our own experience as the defining feature of existence, it is not. All the while, the fundamental protagonists in the drama of life are the very atoms that make up our bodies. They may experience what we all desire: a chance at immortality. This book tells their story. Like all good drama, this story is not about all atoms, because atoms, like people and dogs, and even cockroaches, have individual histories. Rather, this is a story about one atom in particular, an atom of oxygen, located in a drop of water, on a planet whose surface is largely covered by water but whose evolution is for the moment dominated by intelligent beings who live on land. It could, at the present moment, be located in a glass of water you drink as you read this book. It could have been in a drop of sweat dripping from Michael Jordan’s nose as he leapt for a basketball in the final game of his career, or in a large wave that is about to strike land after traveling 4,000 miles through the Pacific Ocean.
Contents
The City on the Edge of Forevei
Divine wind
The Universe in an Atom
The Right Stuf
Time's Arrow
Nature or Nurture?
Ten Minutes to Die
One Hundred Million Years of Solitude
Things That Went Bump in the Nigh
Voyage
First Light
A Pretty Big Bang
The Galaxy Strikes Back
Fire and Ice
Cooking with Gas
The Dangerous Energy Game
The Wonder Years
Return
A Snowball in Hell, Humans, and Other Catastrophes
The Best of Times, the Worst of Times
Through a Glass Darkly
Ashes to Ashes
Dust to Dust
Epilogue
Sources and Acknowledgments
Index
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