Excerpts

Preface

The View from the Center of the Universe

Discovering our Extraordinary Place in the Cosmos

Joel R. Primack and Nancy Ellen Abrams

This is a pivotal moment in human history. New technologies and theories are allowing us to see a universe no one ever could have imagined. The two of us feel extremely fortunate to have witnessed first hand and in some cases participated in these discoveries. The universe has filled much of our professional lives, through Joel's work as an astrophysicist and Nancy's work as a writer and a lawyer working in science policy. It has helped inspire our personal lives and our marriage as well. We have collaborated in developing new ideas, in teaching, traveling, writing - in life itself since 1977. While cooking or sitting around the dining room table, and in late night talks with many of the world's leading astronomers, we have been able to explore the ideas presented in this book. We have repeatedly found in the other's viewpoint the insight we needed. Over decades we have created for ourselves a sense of the universe that is much richer than either of us could ever have conceived alone.

We have done this because the nature of the universe matters to us - and we believe to millions of others as well. Where do we really come from? What are we made of? Are we alone? And perhaps most importantly, do we matter? The answer to this last question is yes: we humans are significant and central to the universe in unexpected and important ways. We are discovering this fact at a moment in history when so much is at stake. It is our hope that this new picture of the universe will help convey the preciousness of the cosmic experiment on planet Earth. An understanding of our universe and our extraordinary place in it may reveal solutions to the problems that confront us personally and globally.

We invite you to join the conversation and explore the view from the center of the universe.

 

Nancy Ellen Abrams and Joel R. Primack
Santa Cruz, California
September 10, 2005

The View from the Center of the Universe