A beautifully illustrated survey of the universe and its constituent parts, from quarks to galaxies and beyond.
Billions of years ago, exploding stars and other events expelled atoms that became the building blocks of the universe as we know it. Today, these ancient atoms form everything on Earth, including our bodies. Scharf (The Copernicus Complex: Our Cosmic Significance in a Universe of Planets and Possibilities, 2014, etc.), the director of the Columbia Astrobiology Center, and Miller (Spaceships: An Illustrated History of the Real and the Imagined, 2016, etc.), a Hugo Award–winning illustrator and former art director of the National Air and Space Museum’s Albert Einstein Planetarium, take readers on a spectacular journey, starting in the farthest reaches of the universe and ending in the deepest depths of the atom. Using the power of 10 to incrementally scale down, each chapter explains the physics powering the many systems that work together to form the universe. Miller’s stunning illustrations pair perfectly with Scharf’s compelling writing, which introduces complex ideas using everyday language and lucid metaphors. Complementary infographics are fun to read and help put massive numbers in perspective—e.g., consider that our solar system is a tiny speck in the Milky Way galaxy, which is just one of hundreds of billions of galaxies in the universe. Though they make sure that every page is accessible to nonscientists, Scharf and Miller don’t skimp on the science, providing plenty of depth in their discussions of general relativity, the composition of planets, the bizarre behavior of particles in the quantum realm, and everything in between. The clever sequence of chapters makes the book enjoyable when read from start to finish, but each chapter tells its own story, and many chapters have two-page illustrations that are discrete tools as entertaining as they are educational.
A superb composite of scientific knowledge that will no doubt inspire readers of all ages to learn more about our enigmatic universe.