The Copernicus Complex: Our Cosmic Significance in a Universe of Planets and Probabilities - Caleb Scharf

When Copernicus bumped Earth from its spot as cosmic centerpiece, he destabilized humanity’s sense of itself. We still haven’t recovered. Our search for life in the universe is a struggle to discover if we are unique, and therefore special, or commonplace and thus insignificant. Yet even as we demonstrate our technological wizardry with telescopes, Voyagers, and Rovers, microbiology shows us we’re outnumbered by bacteria, both on the planet and on our bodies. What does this do for humanity’s self-image? Scharf poses philosophical questions and gives answers from sciences ranging from astronomy to biogeochemistry, doing so in prose that not only tames the wild terminology—“hot Jupiters,” “exponential divergence,” and “gravitational lensing” soon seem friendly—but with imagery sharp enough for fiction. Ultimately, Scharf puts life on the line between order and chaos, and if he supplies plenty to think about, he still leaves it all a little mystifying—as the best science writing does.

The Copernicus Complex: Our Cosmic Significance in a Universe of Planets and Probabilities By Caleb Scharf Cover Image
$18.00
ISBN: 9780374535575
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Published: Scientific American / Farrar, Straus and Giroux - November 10th, 2015