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Synopsis

Einstein once famously proclaimed: "Make things as simple as you possibly can, but no simpler." This book is an attempt to do precisely that, and in the process to take lay readers on a voyage all the way from the Big Bang to the human species. In doing so, it avoids both the simplistic neo-Darwinian idea that everything happens by pure chance and the unscientific notion that if we want to know how our universe came to be, all we have to do is read our bibles. Suarez presents here a rigorous and also entertaining description of life from the moment (approximately 13.7 billion years ago) when total darkness gave way to blinding light, and from there all the way to the present. It tackles the mystery of biogenesis - that is to say the moment when chemicals, which did not seem predisposed to arrange themselves into something more complex, somehow overcame the tendency to break apart and instead combined into something as harmonious and perfectly synchronized as a living cell. In between the singularity that marked the beginning of all matter and the wondrous complexity of the human mind, the author tackles the inflationary moment, Dark Energy, the Second Law, biogenesis and the so-called "missing link," using analogies, stories, and quotes from history's great thinkers. The book does not solve the four mysteries of natural history, but it provides the reader insights by which to weigh to what extent modern science has solved them and to what extent they remain scientific voids that beg for a metaphysical explanation. At the very end, a theory is put forth that connects two of science's four great mysteries. If true, the philosophical implications are so startling that it makes reading the book worthwhile just to ponder the possibility that Suarez may be right about that connection.

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