The Beginning and the End: The Meaning of Life in a Cosmological Perspective

Springer
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In this fascinating journey to the edge of science, Vidal takes on big philosophical questions: Does our universe have a beginning and an end or is it cyclic? Are we alone in the universe? What is the role of intelligent life, if any, in cosmic evolution? Grounded in science and committed to philosophical rigor, this book presents an evolutionary worldview where the rise of intelligent life is not an accident, but may well be the key to unlocking the universe's deepest mysteries. Vidal shows how the fine-tuning controversy can be advanced with computer simulations. He also explores whether natural or artificial selection could hold on a cosmic scale. In perhaps his boldest hypothesis, he argues that signs of advanced extraterrestrial civilizations are already present in our astrophysical data. His conclusions invite us to see the meaning of life, evolution and intelligence from a novel cosmological framework that should stir debate for years to come.
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About the author

Dr. Clément Vidal is a philosopher with a background in logic and cognitive sciences. He is co-director of the 'Evo Devo Universe' community and founder of the 'High Energy Astrobiology' prize. To satisfy his intellectual curiosity when facing the big questions, he brings together many areas of knowledge such as cosmology, physics, astrobiology, complexity science, evolutionary theory and philosophy of science.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Springer
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Published on
May 16, 2014
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Pages
379
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ISBN
9783319050621
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Language
English
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Genres
Nature / Sky Observation
Philosophy / Epistemology
Science / Astronomy
Science / History
Science / Physics / Astrophysics
Science / Physics / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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The bubbles were swirling all around me, massaging my body. As I luxuriated in this fantastic bath, I gasped realizing that those bubbles carried with them miniature galaxies bringing the entire Cosmos into my bathtub...

Alfie is back. And so are George and other characters from the author’s previous book Einstein’s Enigma or Black Holes in My Bubble Bath. While the present book, Universe Unveiled - The Cosmos in My Bubble Bath, is completely independent, its storyline can be considered a sequel to the previous one. The scientific content spanning ancient world models to the most recent mysteries of cosmology is presented in an entirely nontechnical and descriptive style through the discussions between Alfie, the enlightened learner, and George, professor of astrophysics. Fantasies, based on these discussions that cover the scientific facts, are created by the magical bubble baths taken by Alfie.

Universe Unveiled blends accurate science with philosophy, drama, humour, and fantasy to create an exciting cosmic journey that reads like a novel and educates as it entertains.

“Spurred by a series of mind-bending discoveries, Man’s millennial love affair with the stars has now reached fever pitch. No one writing today is better positioned to evoke the romance and beauty of these cosmic discoveries than Vishveshwara. A leading expert in Einstein’s relativity theory, he brings a lyrical voice and a poetic sensibility to this joyful task. Universe Unveiled, a unique literary creation, transports readers into believing they can actually hear the music of the spheres.”

Professor Robert Fuller, Former President, Oberlin College (USA)

Author of Somebodies and Nobodies: Overcoming the Abuse of Rank

This is the story of the astronomer Milton La Salle Humason, whose career was integral to developing our understanding of stellar and universal evolution and who helped to build the analytical basis for the work of such notable astronomers and astrophysicists as Paul Merrill, Walter Adams, Alfred Joy, Frederick Seares, Fritz Zwicky, Walter Baade and Edwin Hubble.

Humason’s unlikely story began on the shores of the Mississippi River in Winona, Minnesota, in 1891 and led to the foot of Mount Wilson outside Los Angeles, California, twelve years later. It is there where he first attended summer camp in 1903 and was captivated by its surroundings. The mountain would become the backdrop for his life and career over the next six decades as he helped first build George Ellery Hale’s observatory on the summit and then rose to become one of that institution’s leading figures through the first half of the twentieth century.

The story chronicles Humason’s life on Mount Wilson, from his first trip to the mountain to his days as a muleskinner, leading teams of mules hauling supplies to the summit during the construction of the observatory, and follows him through his extraordinary career in spectroscopy, working beside Edwin Hubble as the two helped to reconstruct our concept of the universe. A patient, knowledgeable and persistent observer, Humason was later awarded an honorary doctorate for his work, despite having no formal education beyond the eighth grade. His skill at the telescope is legendary. During his career he photographed the spectra of stars, galaxies and other objects many thousands of times fainter than can be seen with the naked eye and pushed the boundary of the known universe deeper into space than any before him. His work, which included assisting in the formulation of Hubble’s Law of redshifts, helped to set the field of cosmology solidly on its foundation.

Milton Humason was one of the most charismatic characters in science during the first half of the 20th century. Uneducated, streetwise, moonshining, roguish, humble and thoroughly down to earth, he rose by sheer chance, innate ability and incredible will to become the leading deep space observer of his day. “The Renaissance man of Mount Wilson,” as Harlow Shapley once referred to him, Humason’s extraordinary life reminds us that passion and purpose may find us at any moment.

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