In the fourth century B.C., the magnificent Museum and Library of Alexandria, Egypt were built. It was one of the earliest scientific centers of research and was a focal point of the exchange of ideas and information. At one point, the Library housed more than 500,000 books. It was a golden age for science lasting more than 700 years. But in the fourth century A.D., the Library and Museum were burned to the ground. Not one book remains from the great Library, and much of the research done by the finest minds of the day was lost forever. About the same time, the world was plunged into the Dark Ages and learning and education were placed on hold for more than 800 years. It is clear that what happened in Alexandria centuries ago was because the scientists and scholars inside could not or did not communicate the significance of their discoveries and knowledge to the public outside. This book is an attempt to convey all that science has learned about how we came to be. It is a trip from the very beginnings of the universe - the Big Bang - through galaxy formation and on to the beginning of life and subsequent evolution of that life on Earth. The focus is not only on the scientific discoveries that have allowed us to know what we know, but the scientists who made the breakthroughs. It is an effort to give us a glimpse of what has been happening in our research laboratories ever since the Dark Ages, but in particular over the last few decades. The framework is simple, the history of the universe, Earth and life, with an understanding of where we came from and where we might be headed.
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