Human Universe – Professor Brian Cox & Andrew Cohen

Cox calls this book a love letter to mankind, but it is more than that. It is a humanist manifesto for the future.

We learn about how the universe came to be, and how we came to be in it. This includes a fly-through of physics from the classical view of the world to general relativity and beyond. All described in language which feels accessible (although having failed Gen. Relativity at final year degree level, my starting point might be higher than expected). Then we cover biology, and the whole thing is wrapped up with basic statistics, and especially that our high level of unlikeliness is irrelevant, because to be asking that question we had to have happened.

Of course, being Cox he wants to see us in space, an idea I support, given the whole universe out there.

It is a desire to reach out to others, to attempt contact even when the chances are vanishingly small; a wish not to be alone. The golden disks are futile and yet filled with hope.

(on the Voyager space probes)

He has an infectious enthusiasm for what humanity is capable of, given how little we’ve changed since we walked out of the Rift Valley, and inspires a belief in the idea that we can do more.

Being in the midst of rereading The Sense of Style, I really appreciated the Classic Style writing in this book, it is beautifully written, and flows fantastically. I however appreciated less the thought experiment as to how I could tell I wasn’t on an aeroplane. Pro tip: works better if you aren’t really on an aeroplane at the time.

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