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Summary

Human life is a staggeringly strange thing. On the surface of a ball of rock falling around a nuclear fireball in the blackness of a vacuum, the laws of nature conspired to create a naked ape that can look up at the stars and wonder where it came from. What is a human being? Objectively, nothing of consequence. Particles of dust in an infinite arena, present for an instant in eternity. Clumps of atoms in a universe with more galaxies than people. Yet a human being is necessary for the question itself to exist, and the presence of a question in the universe - any question - is the most wonderful thing. Questions require minds, and minds bring meaning. What is meaning? I don't know, except that the universe and every pointless speck inside it means something to me. I am astonished by the existence of a single atom and find my civilisation to be an outrageous imprint on reality. I don't understand it. Nobody does, but it makes me smile.

This book asks questions about our origins, our destiny, and our place in the universe. We have no right to expect answers; we have no right to even ask. But ask and wonder we do. Human Universe is first and foremost a love letter to humanity - a celebration of our outrageous fortune in existing at all.

I have chosen to write my letter in the language of science, because there is no better demonstration of our magnificent ascent from dust to paragon of animals than the exponentiation of knowledge generated by science. Two million years ago we were apemen. Now we are spacemen. That has happened, as far as we know, nowhere else. That is worth celebrating.

©2016 Professor Brian Cox and Andrew Cohen (P)2016 HarperCollins Publishers Limited

Critic reviews

"Cox's romantic, lyrical approach to astrophysics all adds up to an experience that feels less like homework and more like having a story told to you. A really good story, too." ( Guardian)
"He bridges the gap between our childish sense of wonder and a rather more professional grasp of the scale of things." ( Independent)
"If you didn't utter a wow watching the TV, you will while reading the book." ( The Times)
"Engaging, ambitious and creative." ( Guardian)
"In this book of the acclaimed BBC2 TV series, Professor Cox shows us the cosmos as we have never seen it before - a place full of the most bizarre and powerful natural phenomena." ( Sunday Express)
"Will entertain and delight...what a priceless gift that would be." ( Independent on Sunday)

What members say

Average customer ratings

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Excellent and we'll explained.

I love Brian Cox, he explains things in such a way that my 10 year old would understand. Very informative and very well written. I couldn't stop listening.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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Such a Great Book!

I really enjoyed this book. I am no physicist but the way this is written makes it easy to understand all the concepts covered. It is full of facts and figures but somehow is given just enough whimsy and the odd song lyric to keep it entertaining. It shows an insight into science through the ages and Brian tells us his own opinions and take on the universe and our place in it. The narrator has a real talent too. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.

13 of 16 people found this review helpful

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An inspiring work with mind blowing facts of life

A beautiful piece of work which in part; was beyond me, but inspired me to understand the world around me. Restored faith in what is too often portrayed in the media as a chaotic, violent, short-termist, self centred world of consumer excess.

13 of 16 people found this review helpful

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Exactly what I was looking for

A beautiful mix of science and history presented as a love letter to humanity. Easy to listen to and interesting throughout. I particularly enjoyed the breakdown of the drake equation. Samuel West gives a top quality performance and I plan to look for more narrated by him.

9 of 11 people found this review helpful

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Ambitious, Captivating

First of all, hats off to Samuel West on an excellent narration. He really does capture the author's sense of wonder in the unlikely celestial existence of humanity. This was an excellent book, thoroughly well researched and rolled out in a logical and engrossing way, capturing the myriad ways in which humanity interfaces with the known universe - from astrophysics and UFOs to the Apollo missions and asteroid collisions. A bit heavy in places on the mathematical models that underpin space-time and gravity (and I have a PhD in Biochemistry!!), but otherwise very enjoyable. Importantly, it finishes on a hopeful note regarding the future of humanity.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Inspiring stuff

Brian Cox is already a brilliant man. This book is clear, inspirational, and I sat down to listen to it with great anticipation, every time. I wonder what he will have to offer as he ages and gains even more wisdom. My mind boggles.

The more I heard, the more I wanted to hear. I am not academically minded, due to a very poor education, but I understand most of what was said. It makes me feel sad that I didn't have a chance to learn physics.

I recommend this book to everyone I meet at the moment.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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life changing

One of the best books I have ever laid eyes on. An account of homo sapien in the story of our universe, a piece of art to be savoured. Thank you for this....

8 of 10 people found this review helpful

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Thought provoking ideas which stay with you.

Brian is a talented writer able to bring very complex ideas to the level of non mathematical folk like myself and make us understand why they are relevant. It's a journey I will be able to listen to many times.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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A life defined

Provides anecdotes of a life spent with eyes wide open, incite full and life affirming. I might even buy the book.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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A well written love letter to the human race

Some times watching Brian's TV shows I get a bit frustrated as he has a tenancy to linger on a point. However through the delivery of the narrator his casual style lends very well to the delivery of complex scientific subjects.

A beautifully written and delivered piece of work that make you want to bang heads for crass stupidity and hug the person next to you because of their achievements. It illustrates our insignificance in this vast cosmos, yet demonstrating our importance. The fact that I can write these words and you understand them illustrates this point perfectly.

Everyone should read this and stand back in wounder at life, the universe and everything.

8 of 10 people found this review helpful

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  • albaraa
  • 07-12-16

Poetic and informative

I never knew science could be so poetic and informative in the same time, like this!