DEEP TIME: The Journey of a Single Subatomic Particle from the Moment of Creation to the Death of the Universe--and Beyond by Darling David

DEEP TIME: The Journey of a Single Subatomic Particle from the Moment of Creation to the Death of the Universe--and Beyond

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Strong contender for the ""Year's Longest Subtitle"" award--an entirely appropriate distinction for a book that sweeps across ""10,000 trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion"" years--and more--from the Big Bang to the Little Whimper, and along the way tries to meld physics, astronomy, philosophy, and religion into a new vision of humanity as the center of the universe. Darling, astronomer, physicist and author of Computers at Home, Inside Computers, and other children's books, chooses as his viewing-point a lowly proton--""a smooth, white, Venus-in-miniature."" Starting with a one-second-old universe, Darling follows his proton back in time to the mysterious Beginning (revealing our cosmos' genesis from ""a parent ocean of space and time"") and then forward through the evolution of atoms, stars, galaxies, planets, earthly life, human culture, and so on to the final heat-death of the universe, or to the collapse of the universe back to a second Big Bang, or to the triumph of ""super-consciousness,"" in which ""mathematics and physics, God and man have become one""--take your choice. Darling prefers the latter. It soon becomes apparent that he is espousing the anthropic principle, a radical new scientific proposal that, crudely put, asserts that the universe exists because it contains human mind--which lends to the universe its logic, laws, and meaning. Somehow, Darling combines the anthropic principle with quantum theory, resulting in a lyrical (or mushy) vision in which ""man and mind had to exist and grow for all time,"" and in which ""there would be no end to intelligence once it had come into being""--bad news for apocalypticists, but good news for anyone with very long-term bank certificates. Many will blanch, but those with a taste for fringe--and possibly ground-breaking--ideas will find much to admire in this entertaining but overwrought extravaganza. (For a more pragmatic look at the anthropic principle, see John Gribbin & Martin Rees' Cosmic Coincidences, reviewed below.)

Pub Date: Aug. 21st, 1989
Publisher: Delacorte