The Great Beyond…On Earth?

July 20, 2011

Guest blogger Camille Turner takes a look at where our universe has come from and where it is going.

I think like many members of my generation, my interest in space sparked with  Steven Speilberg’s E.T. – The Extra-Terrestrial, and then there was no looking back. Cosmos and Culture: Cultural Evolution in a Cosmic Context from the NASA History Series maintains a lot of those same wonderful aspects as a Spielberg flick; it’s enjoyable, it defines itself through the particulars of science and the unknown, and it creates a universal appeal by tapping into the bigger questions of how culture itself has evolved to what it is today.

One of the really amazing aspects to this book is that it isn’t just an exploration of space: experts from an array of fields including science, history and anthropology, all explore culture in the context of the cosmos. By investigating a set of recurring principles, particularly evolution, the authors of each section relate a principle to the expansion of the cosmos, in such a way that makes perfect sense.

For instance, when evolution was first established as a concept, it was considered blasphemous. Now, it is not only accepted in every arena of science; it is a symbol of cultural values, as can be seen by the fish on the back of cars containing the word “Darwin” and occasionally growing feet.

The authors of Cosmos and Culture take these widely accepted ideas and push them one step further: if we see evolution everywhere, even in the evolution of technology and physics, how could the cosmos not be evolving too?

Even better: the entire book is written in layman’s terms. By utilizing diagrams when needed and expanding on common metaphors to maintain the reader’s interest, this seemingly intimidating volume becomes a manageable and enjoyable read.

For scientists, space enthusiasts and history lovers alike, this volume transcends most lines between astronomical and sociological research to fuse into a compelling detailing of where our universe has come from and where we are going, both culturally and evolutionarily.

You can get a copy from our online bookstore or find it in a library.

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