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.
"Louise Young reveals the universe as it truly is--an unfolding flower that has yet to bloom in its full glory."--Paul Davies
"Precisely because she is a scientific generalist, she has an overview that very few practitioners of a single specialty possess. She can put such things as the lifecycle of a star into contexts that a mere astrophysicist might never think of....[This book] may well convert a good many members of the general public. It will do so through its clarity, its stunning metaphors, its obvious condition of being well-informed, its sheer good writing....I found myself
stirred and moved, seeing the patterns of the universe in ways I am not accustomed to."--Noel Perrin, The Chicago Sun-Times
"Informative, intelligent, and sensitive....In the end, it was the force of Ms. Young's imagery, not her logic and theories, that increased my awe of nature as I read The Unfinished Universe."--Alan Lightman, The New York Times
"Young's book is strangely beautiful guide...for those who would think and wonder about the meaning of things that can be known and those that cannot."--James E. Lovelock, author of Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth