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One Universe: At Home in the Cosmos

by Neil de Grasse Tyson, Charles Tsun-Chu Liu, and Robert Irion

224 pages, 9 x 12, 1999.

Joseph Henry Press (JHP)
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A new window opens onto the cosmos....

Almost every day we are challenged by new information from the outermost reaches of space. Using straightforward language, One Universe explores the physical principles that govern the workings of our own world so that we can appreciate how they operate in the cosmos around us. Bands of color in a sunlit crystal and the spectrum of starlight in giant telescopes, the arc of a hard-hit baseball and the orbit of the moon, traffic patterns on a freeway and the spiral arms in a galaxy full of stars--they're all tied together in grand and simple ways.

We can understand the vast cosmos in which we live by exploring three basic concepts: motion, matter, and energy. With these as a starting point, One Universe shows how the physical principles that operate in our kitchens and backyards are actually down-to-Earth versions of cosmic processes. The book then takes us to the limits of our knowledge, asking the ultimate questions about the origins and existence of life as we know it and where the universe came from--and where it is going.

Glorious photographs--many seen for the first time in these pages--and original illustrations expand and enrich our understanding. Evocative and clearly written, One Universe explains complex ideas in ways that every reader can grasp and enjoy. This book captures the grandeur of the heavens while making us feel at home in the cosmos. Above all, it helps us realize that galaxies, stars, planets, and we ourselves all belong to One Universe.

Winner of 2001 American Institute of Physics SCIENCE WRITING AWARD Scientist category

2001 New York Public Library Selection: Books For The Teen Age

" insightful primer on all things great and small. ...the book features crisp, rarely patronizing writing to describe the current state of knowledge of everything from the tiniest subatomic particles (with exotic names like fermions, bosons and leptoquarks) to superstring theory and other "grand unified theories" that seek to meld cosmic forces with the principles of quantum mechanics. The authors employ everyday analogies to explain the four basic forces of nature--gravity, electromagnetism and the "strong" and "weak" forces at play in an atom's nucleus--and the many fascinating ways these building blocks manifest themselves and interact. There are many helpful illustrations and color photographs... What's most refreshing about this road trip through the heavens is the humility of its authors in the face of so much that is unknowable or dimly understood, even as they patiently but eloquently provide one-stop shopping for students of the cosmos."
-- The New York Times

"Anyone looking for a book that takes readers from everyday life to the edges of the universe and back needs to check out One Universe... The mental journey is so painless that even vaguely interested page-turners will learn in spite of themselves. ... One Universe manages to shed the reputation of most coffee-table books by being more than just a pretty face. Instead, expect a copiously illustrated journey through good science--although sometimes at too low a level for more sophisticated astronomy buffs--with solid examples that drive home even arcane points in a straightforward manner. Each new topic compels the reader onward. So pick it up and start reading anywhere."
-- Astronomy, July 2000

"Startling, sparking color photos and very accessible explanations of the laws and history of physics make this book a treat. Tyson, Liu, and Irion make the science they explain sound both awesome and painless. This book is seemingly designed more to be browsed than to be read straight through, and it might not mind just being admired."
-- Publishers Weekly, January 2000

"Explanations of extremely deep cosmological concepts such as string theory and gravitation become understandable... This is a most instructive work, wonderfully illustrated and carefully written. The content is accurate, and concepts are explained to the reader in a friendly voice. ... The language in the text is beautiful and almost poetic ...the outstanding full color illustrations that accompany every page and excellent content make this book strongly recommended for the older student, either in or outside the classroom."
-- NSTA Recommends, 2002

"This neatly organized volume represents an impressive melding of well-written, graphically pleasing text and awe-inspiring illustrations and photographs. The illustrations and analogies help make complicated concepts seem simple. Scholarly and fun, this title will infect readers with the authors' joy and mastery of their subject."
-- School Library Journal

"...spectacularly beautiful... It has a smart and comprehensible text, info-captions, colorized astro-images, and elegantly rendered 3-D diagrams--all woven together with intelligence and pizzazz."
-- Whole Earth, Winter 2001

"The clear and engaging prose is copiously laced with a wealth of apposite and illuminating analogies, scale models, and metaphors that make grand and complex concepts easy to grasp... The text is further enhanced by a wealth of beautiful and carefully selected images, diagrams, and artworks. ...the skillfully-crafted text weaves together an amazing range of subjects and concepts into a logically-developed, coherent, and stimulating whole. ... Like a good detective novel, this is a book that is difficult to put down. It can be dipped into, but a reader is much more likely to feel compelled to read it straight through from cover to cover. This is one of those rare books that achieves exactly what it sets out to do. I greatly enjoyed reading it and would strongly recommend it to anyone who is looking for a clear, accessible, accurate, and up-to-date guide to the physical Universe and our place within it."
-- The Observatory: A Review of Astronomy, June 2000

"Motion, matter and energy--three of the most basic concepts in the universe--are at last explained in a way that everyone can understand in One Universe, Neil de Grasse Tyson's tour de force look at the laws that govern our heavens above. ... Tyson pours his mettle into this handbook for the everyman... Accessorized beautifully with a generous set of gorgeous visuals, One Universe beckons like the promise of a new frontier, drawing humankind to it with the incomparable inducements of wonder and awe, and the promise to satisfy our seemingly unquenchable thirst to learn more."
-- The Boox Review, March 2001


Neil de Grasse Tyson is the Frederick P. Rose Director of the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City and a Visiting Research Scientist in astrophysics at Princeton University. Since 1995, Tyson has written the popular monthly essay "Universe" for Natural History magazine. He is also the author of Universe Down to Earth, a collection of essays exploring the connections between concepts of science and everyday experience, and The Sky Is Not the Limit: Adventures of an Urban Astrophysicist, a memoir. A graduate of the Bronx High School of Science, Tyson earned a B.A. in physics from Harvard College and a Ph.D. in astrophysics from Columbia University. Tyson lives in New York City.

Charles Liu is an astrophysicist at the American Museum of Natural History and a Visiting Research Scientist at Columbia University. His research focuses on the evolution of galaxies, and his work has appeared in numerous publications, including The Astrophysical Journal and The Astronomical Journal. Liu received a B.A. in both astronomy and astrophysics and physics from Harvard College and a Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of Arizona. He lives in Montclair, New Jersey.

Robert Irion, a freelance science journalist in Santa Cruz, California, is a contributing editor at Astronomy magazine and a contributing correspondent to Science magazine. He holds a B.S. in earth and planetary sciences from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and studied science communication at the University of California, Santa Cruz, where he now teaches science writing. His articles on astronomy, earth science, and physics also have appeared in New Scientist and other publications. He lives in Santa Cruz.

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