A review of:

Stardust: Our Cosmic Origins – By Stephen Welch

In Stardust Our Cosmic Origins, Stephen Welch aims to provide some answers to two questions;

Where did we come from? and
What is the nature of reality behind our perception of the World?

This is an entertaining and thought provoking read which touches upon many of the key ideas of scientific thinking over the last 100 or so years and from my perspective as a teacher could be aimed at three target audiences;

  1. Teachers.....I would strongly recommend this book to science teachers looking for enlightening snippets of information that could be dropped into lessons. For instance the fingernail shavings (you will have to read) places human existence into an accessible and useful analogy that can easily translate into the classroom adding that extra ‘hmmm’ factor to a lesson which can then be used to stimulate discussion. A lesson on the scientific method, or as we teachers are directed to call it ‘how science works’ would also benefit from pupils accessing the text. Similarly, a teacher of religious education could use the information as a starting point for discussion on religion vs. science.
  2. Pupils...whilst there is clear leaning towards the atheist view of the world there is much in this book that will get a bright intelligent KS4 or KS5 pupil following a study of the sciences, thinking...The author also shakes up some of the traditional and generally poorly understood areas of science (such as evolution) in a manner that can initially be disconcerting but then upon reflection makes consummate sense, as the author quotes Huxley “ How incredibly stupid of me not to have thought of that”.
  3. The ‘intelligent populous’....this is probably not a book that you will read down the beach or in a noisy room full of distractions, for I found myself re-reading sections partially to refocus my slightly rearranged understanding of science and scientific thinking. Here lies one of the key strengths of the book, you read a section....think about what you have just read and then wish to find out more. Helpfully the author provides suggestions for further reading. A book that provides the reader with the impetuous to fill in some of the gaps in ‘the missing link’ to ones scientific understanding is [in my opinion] of benefit. That is not however to say that this is a highbrow book, as it is accessible to many, indeed having used small snippets with some of my year 11 class I can vouch for the entertaining and well written nature of the text.

To summarise, an entertaining, easily accessible, thought provoking challenge to [possibly some of the] scientific understanding taught in schools, or a launch pad to the enquiring mind for further knowledge. This book comes recommended.

Dr Shaun Kirby
Science Teacher
Marsh Academy
New Romney
Kent