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The Copernicus Complex: The Quest for Our Cosmic (In)Significance (Hardback)
  • The Copernicus Complex: The Quest for Our Cosmic (In)Significance (Hardback)

The Copernicus Complex: The Quest for Our Cosmic (In)Significance (Hardback)

Hardback 288 Pages / Published: 04/09/2014
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Though the concept of "the universe" suggests the containment of everything, the latest ideas in cosmology hint that our universe may be just one of a multitude of others-a single slice of an infinity of parallel realities. In The Copernicus Complex, the renowned astrophysicist and author Caleb Scharf takes us on a cosmic adventure like no other, from tiny microbes within the Earth to distant exoplanets and beyond, asserting that the age-old Copernican principle is in need of updating. As Scharf argues, when Copernicus proposed that the Earth was not the fixed point at the center of the known universe (and therefore we are not unique), he set in motion a colossal scientific juggernaut, forever changing our vision of nature. But the principle has never been entirely true-we do live at a particular time, in a particular location, under particular circumstances. To solve this conundrum we must put aside our Copernican worldview and embrace the possibility that we are in a delicate balance between mediocrity and significance, order and chaos. Weaving together cutting-edge science and classic storytelling, historical accounts and speculations on what the future holds, The Copernicus Complex presents a compelling argument for what our true cosmic status is, and proposes a way forward for the ultimate quest: to determine life's abundance not just across this universe but across all realities.

Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
ISBN: 9781846147128
Number of pages: 288
Weight: 524 g
Dimensions: 240 x 162 x 28 mm

The Copernicus Complex delivers its argument with comparable clarity, insight and humour. There is much to enjoy along the way, including a compelling account of the extraordinary diversity of planetary systems we now know to exist * Telegraph *
The Copernicus Complex addresses a perennial mystery: the cosmic significance (or perhaps the insignificance) of life on Earth. Caleb Scharf summarizes current debates on how life began and how pervasive it is, explaining how our perspective has been changed by the recent discovery that there are millions of Earth-like planets in the Milky Way. He sets his theme in a historical context, writing in an engaging and accessible style -- Sir Martin Rees, author of Just Six Numbers and From Here to Infinity
A tantalising approach to the mysteries of the universe -- Peter Forbes * Independent *
[A] witty, adroitly marshalled treatise on human significance -- Robin McKie * Observer *
An intoxicating collection of questions answered with other questions, and startling discoveries that make creation even more mysterious . . . Books such as these remind us that we are lucky to be here at all, and even luckier to be here now * Guardian *
How reasonable is it to think that we are alone in the vast expanses of space? And how significant is life on Earth on the Universal (or multiversal) scale? These are the questions that astrobiologist Caleb Scharf addresses intelligently and comprehensively in his beautifully written The Copernicus Complex * Nature *
Sweeping in reach and lucid in exposition, The Copernicus Complex raises profound questions and offers provocative insights on our ongoing quest for life's cosmic context -- Ray Jayawardhana, astrophysicist and author of Neutrino Hunters and Strange New Worlds
Scharf covers a lot of ground, and his entertaining, accessible approach offers valuable insight not just into science, but also into the way our assumptions can make a difficult task, like finding life in the universe, even harder * Publishers Weekly *
This lyrical tale describes how we have opened our minds to appreciate our cosmic insignificance as we explore the true wonder of the cosmos, including the fascinating question of whether we are alone in the Universe. Caleb Scharf highlights the newly discovered possibilities for housing life in the cosmos, but-just as important-the new ways we might find out if it is out there. This voyage of discovery demonstrates that scientific progress requires us to transcend the often myopic intuition that evolution has saddled us with, and let nature be our guide -- Lawrence M. Krauss, Foundation Professor and Director of the Origins Project at Arizona State University, bestselling author of A Universe from Nothing and The Physics of Star Trek
[The Copernicus Complex] is an engaging book that covers a lot of scientific ground . . . Scharf handles complex concepts gracefully * Times Higher Education Supplement *

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