An exhilarating exploration of the cosmos that is both poetic and cutting-edge.



An award-winning particle physicist delivers an appealing explanation of the origins and evolution of the universe.

It’s a mystery that has plagued great thinkers for centuries: How did the universe come to be? Many theories, scientific and otherwise, have been put forth, but the true story of the universe’s first moments is still emerging. Tonelli, who played a role in the discovery of the Higgs boson, argues that new discoveries in physics are able to provide the clearest picture yet of how the universe emerged and where it’s going. From his descriptions of the Big Bang to human creativity and storytelling, the author’s writing is lush and inviting, offering countless points of entry even for those readers unfamiliar with fundamental concepts of physics. “Our lives,” writes Tonelli, “are conditioned by the story of the origins of the universe told by science: it profoundly shifts the foundations on which we will build new social arrangements, opening up vistas full of opportunities and risks, and shaping the future for coming generations.” In a concise yet action-packed narrative, the author organizes his survey of the cosmic beginnings into seven days, mimicking the biblical timeline of creation—from “Day One: An Irresistible Breath Produces the First Wonder” to “Day Seven: A Swarming of Complex Forms.” With clarity and just the right amount of technical language, Tonelli tackles complex subjects such as supersymmetry, dark matter, and the births of stars and planets. He also masterfully conveys the scientific and epistemic profundity of “how we look at the world, and therefore our place within it.” Entangled within his pursuit of scientific truth, the author’s overarching outlook is one of awe. The magnificent ideas he presents allow us “to understand our deepest roots, and to find ideas with which to face the future.” The book was a bestseller in Italy in 2019.

An exhilarating exploration of the cosmos that is both poetic and cutting-edge.

Pub Date: April 13, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-374-60048-8

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Jan. 7, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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A welcome reference, entertaining and information-packed, for any outdoors-inclined reader.


The bad news: On any given outdoor expedition, you are your own worst enemy. The good news: If you are prepared, which this book helps you achieve, you might just live through it.

As MeatEater host and experienced outdoorsman Rinella notes, there are countless dangers attendant in going into mountains, woods, or deserts; he quotes journalist Wes Siler: “People have always managed to find stupid ways to die.” Avoiding stupid mistakes is the overarching point of Rinella’s latest book, full of provocative and helpful advice. One stupid way to die is not to have the proper equipment. There’s a complication built into the question, given that when humping gear into the outdoors, weight is always an issue. The author’s answer? “Build your gear list by prioritizing safety.” That entails having some means of communication, water, food, and shelter foremost and then adding on “extra shit.” As to that, he notes gravely, “a National Park Service geologist recently estimated that as much as 215,000 pounds of feces has been tossed haphazardly into crevasses along the climbing route on Denali National Park’s Kahiltna Glacier, where climbers melt snow for drinking water.” Ingesting fecal matter is a quick route to sickness, and Rinella adds, there are plenty of outdoorspeople who have no idea of how to keep their bodily wastes from ruining the scenery or poisoning the water supply. Throughout, the author provides precise information about wilderness first aid, ranging from irrigating wounds to applying arterial pressure to keeping someone experiencing a heart attack (a common event outdoors, given that so many people overexert without previous conditioning) alive. Some takeaways: Keep your crotch dry, don’t pitch a tent under a dead tree limb, walk side-hill across mountains, and “do not enter a marsh or swamp in flip-flops, and think twice before entering in strap-on sandals such as Tevas or Chacos.”

A welcome reference, entertaining and information-packed, for any outdoors-inclined reader.

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-12969-2

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2020

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A straightforward, carefully detailed presentation of how ``fruit comes from flowers,'' from winter's snow-covered buds through pollination and growth to ripening and harvest. Like the text, the illustrations are admirably clear and attractive, including the larger-than-life depiction of the parts of the flower at different stages. An excellent contribution to the solidly useful ``Let's-Read-and-Find-Out-Science'' series. (Nonfiction/Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: Jan. 30, 1992

ISBN: 0-06-020055-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 1991

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