A review of:

Stardust: Our Cosmic Origins By Stephen Welch

A Terrific Introduction to Your Universe and Your Place in It

My favourite books are those filled with a variety of ideas that surprise, stimulate your imagination, shock and delight, and Stephen Welch's wonderful new book Stardust is a treasure trove of such jewels. Welch's book has a simple and elegant purpose, to bring together threads gleaned from many different scientific disciplines and weave them into a pictorial tapestry of our current state of knowledge showing the best answers we have to important and basic questions such as: What are we? Where we come from? What the reality is of the world beyond our perception?

This he does by giving us a fascinating thumbnail sketch of the amazing perspective humankind has gained, particularly in the last 100 years or so. Stardust covers a literally infinite expanse of topics, far ranging in time and space, both outer and inner. He descends through the unfathomable primordial depths of Deep Time to the Big Bang itself, pulls us in for a close-up look at the fundamental forces that hold the universe together, and takes us on a safari through the long, rich timeline of Life's evolutionary history. Welch illustrates the long (but geologically speaking, infinitesimally brief) story of humanity: our mythologies and memes, the painful but supremely rewarding supplanting of our cherished superstitions by the scientific method, and what the future may hold, ETs and AIs, and our place in this vast and spectacular universe.

Stardust is a perfect introduction to the wonders of our current state of knowledge. Welch distils an awe inspiring universe of complex ideas into a small, handy volume that is a pleasure to read and filled with gems of quotes, poetry, amazing facts and mind-shifting ideas. Young readers and adults alike will thoroughly enjoy it. I heartily recommend it for anyone looking for a good, readable basic understanding of our universe and our origins. You will never be the same when you look up at the stars, and see ourselves there.

David Fitzgerald
Author and
Steering Committee member
San Francisco Atheists
San Francisco