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From Dust to Life

The Origin and Evolution of Our Solar System by John Chambers and Jacqueline Mitton

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12:45pm, January 13, 2014

In about 300 pages, this book sums up the history of all that matters — or at least everything made of matter — from the Big Bang to life on Earth.

This wild ride across the cosmos and through time covers a lot of territory, but isn’t merely a laundry list of observations. Instead, readers will find one lucid explanation piggybacked onto another. Chapters show how energetic particles first organized into atoms, then molecular clouds (the star factories), then protoplanetary disks and eventually the diverse residents of our planetary neighborhood including asteroids, Pluto and its plutino neighbors.

The authors, a planetary scientist and a space sciences writer, make celestial mechanics comprehensible even to readers with more curiosity than scientific background. Yet there are still insights for those who

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