The Unfinished Universe

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Oxford University Press, 1986 - Science - 239 pages
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From the dawn of humankind, men and women have looked at change--as wrought by weather, the seasons, and, most strikingly, the inexorable advance of time--as something essentially to be feared. And partially from this fear the great religions and mythologies have arisen, systems which gave meaning to the ever-changing world, and, quite often, immortality to ourselves. By the late nineteenth century, the quest for ultimate meanings became largely the province of science, and today, change still figures (on the surface, at least) as a malevolent force: most of the cosmological theories formulated in recent years predict the ultimate extinction of the world by universal entropy.
Bringing together the evidence and insights of biology and physics, of astronomy and cosmology, Louise Young offers a profoundly original and stirring vision of order, form, change, and the creative forces in the universe. Opposing the long-held beliefs of many scientists that the universe is running down and will eventually collapse upon itself, Young eloquently argues that the tendency toward increasing entropy is merely one aspect of a single process that is creating more complex, highly organized, and more efficient forms of matter all the time, and at every level--from the microscopic to the stellar.
In vivid, compelling prose, Louise Young--an award-winning writer on science and a former physicist--takes us on an unforgettable tour of the world around us, showing how even the most ordinary aspects of life and the universe display a strangely beautiful symmetry. She clearly demonstrates that creation was not simply some big-bang eons ago, but rather is an ongoing process, one in which we are both witnesses and participants. Illustrating her findings with many remarkable photographs and fascinating examples ranging from geology to animal behavior, and from oceanography to genetics, Young gracefully canvasses the themes of growth, change creativity, and the mystery of the universe in a book that is as much poetry as it is science.
Based on solid scientific knowledge, yet informed by a refreshingly philosophical sensibility, The Unfinished Universe is a book that will inspire anyone who has ever questioned their place and purpose in a world filled with uncertainty and change.
 

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The unfinished universe

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In the geologic record we see a progression of life forms from simple to complex. Similarly, cosmologists say that the cosmos has evolved from a primordial state of uniform distribution of energy to a ... Read full review

Contents

Introductio n
9
From Nothingness to Stars and Crystals
37
Chapter 3
57
From Amoeba to Man
75
Being and Becoming
95
Entropy and Evolution
117
Chance and Natural Selection
138
Mind and Order in the Universe
167
Chapter 10
186
Notes
209
Acknowledgments
226
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About the author (1986)


Louise Young is the author of Earth's Aura, The Blue Planet, Sowing the Wind, and Power Over People (Updated Edition, Oxford, 1992). She is also the editor of Exploring the Universe, The Mystery of Matter, and Evolution of Man.

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