Re: Our Cosmic Origins

The second cosmology book recommended in Spin is Our Cosmic Origins, by Armand Delsemme. A slender book, it gives a good summary of the origins of the Solar System, but skims over a lot of explanation. Understanding and accepting it is largely dependant on reading other books. Being a cometologist, he goes into fascinating detail in the chapter about the formation of the Solar System, arguing that the distribution of elements strongly implies that not only the oceans, but all life on earth, is made of comets.

I am less ready to accept some of his suggestions about evolution. The book proposes that visual processing in the brain leads to intelligence. I could accept the idea that the need to process data received from the eye into information driving the evolution of the brain. But I really couldn’t get past the assertion that short-term memory leads to self-consciousness. Or that long-term memory follows. Even if this is so, he fails to follow through on the implication that the animals that can see and form memories might be more intelligent and self-conscious than most people are willing to admit.
In the looking forward chapter, he is relentlessly optimistic about the future of life in the universe, which makes it a good anodyne to a lot of the other books.

Next Week: Jackpot!