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This is the epic story of the universe and our place in it, from 13.8 billion years ago to the remote future.

How did we get from the Big Bang to today's staggering complexity, in which seven billion humans are connected into networks powerful enough to transform the planet? And why, in comparison, are our closest primate relatives reduced to near-extinction?

Big History creator David Christian gives the answers in a mind-expanding cosmological detective story told on the grandest possible scale. He traces how, during eight key thresholds, the right conditions have allowed new forms of complexity to arise, from stars to galaxies, Earth to homo sapiens, agriculture to fossil fuels. This last mega-innovation gave us an energy bonanza that brought huge benefits to mankind, yet also threatens to shake apart everything we have created.

This global origin story is one that we could only begin to tell recently, thanks to the underlying unity of modern knowledge. Panoramic in scope and thrillingly told, Origin Story reveals what we learn about human existence when we consider it from a universal scale.

Reviews

A journey through billions of years that nails home the point: Life is a miracle . . . A compelling history of everything

Eric Weiner, Washington Post

Rather like the Big Bang, the book is awe-inspiring . . . Superb

Gerard Degroot, The Times

Wonderful . . . This is a brief history of the universe, and an excellent one

David Wootton, Wall Street Journal

With fascinating ideas on every page and the page-turning energy of a good thriller, this is a landmark work

Sir Ken Robinson, author of The Element

I have long been a fan of David Christian. In Origin Story, he elegantly weaves evidence and insights from many scientific and historical disciplines into a single, accessible historical narrative

Bill Gates

Spectacular

Carlo Rovelli

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Formats & editions

  • Paperback

    9780141983028

    July 16, 2019

    Penguin Press

    368 pages

    RRP $28.00

    Online retailers

    • Mighty Ape
    • Paper Plus
    • The Warehouse
    • Whitcoulls
    • Fishpond
    • The Nile
    Or

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.co.nz

  • Hardback

    9780241254684

    May 15, 2018

    Allen Lane

    320 pages

    RRP $55.00

    Online retailers

    • Mighty Ape
    • Paper Plus
    • The Warehouse
    • Whitcoulls
    • Fishpond
    • The Nile
    Or

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.co.nz

  • Trade Paperback

    9780241338377

    May 14, 2018

    Allen Lane

    368 pages

    RRP $40.00

    Online retailers

    • Mighty Ape
    • Paper Plus
    • The Warehouse
    • Whitcoulls
    • Fishpond
    • The Nile
    Or

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.co.nz

  • Origin Story
    David Christian

    EBook

    9780241254691

    May 3, 2018

    Penguin eBooks

    Online retailers

    • Amazon Kindle NZ
    • iBooks NZ
    • Google Play EBook NZ
    • Kobo
    • Booktopia NZ

Extract

We arrive in this universe through no choice of our own, at a time and place not of our choosing. For a few moments, like cosmic fireflies, we will travel with other humans, with our parents, with our sisters and brothers, with our children, with friends and enemies. We will travel, too, with other life-forms, from bacteria to baboons, with rocks and oceans and auroras, with moons and meteors, planets and stars, with quarks and photons and supernovas and black holes, with slugs and cell phones, and with lots and lots of empty space. The cavalcade is rich, colorful, cacophonous, and mysterious, and though we humans will eventually leave it, the cavalcade will move on. In the remote future, other travelers will join and leave the cavalcade. Eventually, though, the cavalcade will thin out. Gazillions of years from today, it will fade away like a ghost at dawn, dissolving into the ocean of energy from which it first appeared.

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Article
The Origins of Everything

David Christian explores our place in the continuum of the Universe.