The birth and evolution of our solar system is a tantalizing mystery that may one day provide answers to the question of human origins. This book tells the remarkable story of how the celestial objects that make up the solar system arose from common beginnings billions of years ago, and how scientists and philosophers have sought to unravel this mystery down through the centuries, piecing together the clues that enabled them to deduce the solar system's layout, its age, and the most likely way it formed.
Drawing on the history of astronomy and the latest findings in astrophysics and the planetary sciences, John Chambers and Jacqueline Mitton offer the most up-to-date and authoritative treatment of the subject available. They examine how the evolving universe set the stage for the appearance of our Sun, and how the nebulous cloud of gas and dust that accompanied the young Sun eventually became the planets, comets, moons, and asteroids that exist today. They explore how each of the planets acquired its unique characteristics, why some are rocky and others gaseous, and why one planet in particular--our Earth--provided an almost perfect haven for the emergence of life.
From Dust to Life is a must-read for anyone who desires to know more about how the solar system came to be. This enticing book takes readers to the very frontiers of modern research, engaging with the latest controversies and debates. It reveals how ongoing discoveries of far-distant extrasolar planets and planetary systems are transforming our understanding of our own solar system's astonishing history and its possible fate.
John Chambers is a planetary scientist in the Department of Terrestrial Magnetism at the Carnegie Institution for Science. Jacqueline Mitton is a writer, editor, and media consultant in astronomy. Her books include Titan Unveiled: Saturn's Mysterious Moon Explored (Princeton).
"[T]here is much solid information to be gleaned from careful reading."--Publishers Weekly
"This is not your average tour of our solar system. Using clear, relatively jargon-free language, Chambers and Mitton provide a comprehensive examination of our current understanding of its formation, which should readily appeal to the general reader who enjoys scientific detail without getting into equations."--Library Journal
"As an astrophysicist credentialed in the days before the space era, I figured reading another book on the solar system would be a big yawn. Surprise! I couldn't have been more wrong! Here is an eye-opening up-to-date reconnaissance of what's in our part of the universe and how it has evolved. Along the way, this arresting account reveals how unique our planetary system really is."--Owen Gingerich, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
"The origin of our solar system is among the hottest and most fascinating research topics in all of planetary science and astronomy. Chambers and Mitton have produced a compelling and up-to-date survey of this field that reads quickly and authoritatively and leaves no stone unturned in surveying the landscape of this vast and rich topic. I recommend it with gusto!"--Alan Stern, Southwest Research Institute
"John Chambers is one of the world's leading authorities on the origin of the solar system, and here, together with Jacqueline Mitton, provides an engaging summary of the new discoveries for a wider audience. This book is unquestionably the most up-to-date and authoritative popular presentation of current thinking on the subject."--Philip J. Armitage, author of Astrophysics of Planet Formation
Table of Contents
Another Princeton book authored or coauthored by Jacqueline Mitton: