The birth and evolution of our solar system is a tantalizing mystery that may one day provide answers to the question of human origins. From Dust to Life 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
"A stellar read"--Nature
"In this grand chronicle of the science behind the origins of our 4.6-billion-year-old Solar System, John Chambers and Jacqueline Mitton peruse everything from the giant collision thought to have formed our Moon to the nature of meteorites."--Rosalind Metcalfe, Nature
"[This book] provides a truly comprehensive overview of our solar system's origins and is written in plain, jargon-free language."--Marcus Chown, New Scientist
"Incredibly thorough and detailed, yet very accessible to non-scientists too. . . . A compelling overview of the evolution of the Solar System."--Katia Moskvitch, BBC Sky at Night
"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
"Chambers and Mitton stay focused on the science in From Dust to Life: unlike other books that create narratives around the scientists, they discuss the science and the history of its development, rather than the individuals who made it possible. That's a worthwhile trade: while there have been, and are today, interesting people studying the formation of the solar system, the science is even more fascinating as we find out just how complex the process is to turn a cloud of gas and dust into a star and planets."--Jeff Foust, Space Review
"Read From Dust to Life to gain a fascinating perspective on the current state of the science behind solar system formation."--David Dickinson, Astro Guys blog
Table of Contents
Other Princeton books authored or coauthored by Jacqueline Mitton:
Another Princeton book authored or coauthored by John Chambers: