The Copernicus Complex by Caleb Scharf

The Copernicus Complex

Longlisted for the 2015 PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing AwardShort-listed for Physics World 's Book of the Year The Sunday Times (UK) Best Science Book of 2014 A Publishers Weekly Top 10 Science Book of Fall 2014An NBC News Top Science and Tech Book of 2014A Politics & Prose 2014 Staff PickIn the sixteenth century, Nicolaus Copernicus dared to go against the establishment by proposing that Earth rotates around the Sun. Having de...

Details The Copernicus Complex

TitleThe Copernicus Complex
Release DateSep 9th, 2014
PublisherScientific American / Farrar, Straus and Giroux
GenreScience, Nonfiction, Astronomy, Physics, Philosophy, Space

Reviews The Copernicus Complex

  • Clif Hostetler
    Are we special? Just how unique is the occurrence of life in our universe? This book is an attempt to answer those questions. The Copernican principle has long insisted that the laws of physics and chemistry were universal and humans cannot claim a "special" time and place for our location in the universe. This book offers no definitive answers to these questions, but it does suggest that, “Our place in the universe is special but not significa...
  • Max
    Scharf examines whether we have a special place in an isotropic and homogenous universe. He starts with the concepts of Copernicus and Kepler that removed us from the center. He continues on to the anthropic principle, “fine tuning” and other ideas that while not putting us back at the center do support our uniqueness. He then looks at astrophysical and biological influences to assess whether life is rare or prolific in the universe. Below ar...
  • Gary
    How special are we? We no longer consider ourselves the center of the universe, but we are in a fortuitous place and time for understanding our place in the universe, and complex life can exist at the nexus of order and chaos at least we have one data point.Most of the current thought about our place in the universe rest on false premises and incorrect conclusions. This book gently takes the listener through the step by step process necessary in ...
  • John Gribbin
    The Copernicus Complex: Our Cosmic Significance in a Universe of Planets and Probabilities (Hardcover)by Caleb Scharf Nicolaus Copernicus is credited with the realisation that the Earth is not at the centre of the Universe, but orbits around the Sun. This was a key step in the development of the idea that we do not occupy a special place in the Universe, and that, by implication, there may be nothing special about us, cosmically speaking. In the ...
  • Al Bità
    Probably the most interesting thing about this book is the journey the author takes his reader upon, rather than the arrival at his conclusion. The trip is fascinating and basically quite mind-boggling, as the amazing discoveries (on the one hand) of the cosmic reality of the physical universe, and (on the other hand) the astonishing complexity and potentiality of life on earth, are presented to us in Scharf’s friendly and accessible prose. The...
  • jeremy
    nearly a half-millennium ago, polish astronomer and mathematician nicolaus copernicus published his de revolutionibus orbium coelestium, forever changing our view of the universe and our place within it. copernicus famously offered a heliocentric model of our solar system, discarding the long and widely held conception of earth as the orbital center of the known heavens – effectively dethroning us from our exalted standing as celestial centerpi...
  • Andrew Davis
    One of the better popular science books I have read. Combines both our place in universe and likelihood of life. Its style is engaging and made interesting by presenting a range of views rather than just compiling what is know.A few notes:The Sun orbits around a variable point – the centre-of-mass or balance point of all objects in the system. This point is close to the observed surface of the Sun –well offset from its core.Sun is 1,392,686 k...
  • Дмитрий Филоненко
    The book provides quite a comprehensive account on how the life on Earth is possible. Starting from stars emerging from interstellar dust and finishing with preconditions required for multicellular life to be able to appear and exist this book covers all aspects essential for life at least in its most primitive forms to exist. It may seem that we are rather lucky exception in the Universe since the array of conditions which made our very existenc...
  • Galen Weitkamp
    Copernicus is credited with having permanently knocked Earth from center stage and giving it a minor role as the third planet from the Sun. Since then our significance in the universe has been on a downhill trend. The Sun is not the center of the Milky Way galaxy, the Milky Way is not the biggest galaxy in the Local Cluster. The Local Cluster holds no special position in the Laniakea supercluster and Laniakea is lost within the vast homogeneity o...
  • Francesco
    Se pensate che il genere umano sia insignificante rispetto a quello che ci circonda, che la vita sia una cosa comune nell'universo, che non abbiamo niente di speciale, dovete leggere questo libro. Potreste cambiare decisamente idea. Dopo un'introduzione sulla concezione che l'uomo ha avuto di sé durante i vari periodi storici, fino a giungere appunto alla rivoluzione Copernicana, l'autore si pone come obbiettivo di riflettere se davvero l'assun...
  • Steven
    Had some good sections and well worth reading but if I'm honest it lost my interest a few times throughout.
  • Brian Clegg
    Gravity's Engines, Caleb Scharf's first book was one of the best cosmology titles I've ever read. In the way it explored lack holes and their relationship to galaxies and the universe it Unknownwas quite stunning. The only downside was a certain floweriness of style (one reviewer described it as 'rich language', but, no, it was floweriness) and the occasional dip into amateur philosophising. The big problem with The Copernicus Complex is that thi...
  • Alan
    My second book by Scharf, as brilliant and engaging as his "Extrasolar Planets..." Less of a textbook; fewer difficult formula (of 100, I could only solve one.) Lots of info here, like lunar reflectivity, very deceptive; it seems bright to us, but the Moon reflects only about 10% of th light that hits it, "about the same as a lump of coal" (71). Of the Sun, he says: "Thus ends the ten-billion year spree of this one star that we decided to take an...
  • Devero
    Un libro di scienza, ma anche di filosofia. Il tema che Scharf analizza è quello della nostra "mediocrità" alla luce delle recenti scoperte di esopianeti, nonché, in fondo in fondo, quello del principio antropologico.In fondo da quando Copernico ha rimesso il Sole al centro del sistema, con la Terra considerata un pianeta ne più ne meno come gli altri del sistema; da quando Galileo ha scoperto che il Sole è solo una delle innumerevoli stelle...
  • Peter Mcloughlin
    Using Knowledge of exoplanets and computer simulation our view of earth and solar systems mediocrity is going through a massive overhaul. It turns out that most solar systems outside our own don't look anything like our stable clockwork which allowed life to evolve on earth. Many have Hot Jupiters or Icarus like planets with highly eccentric orbits or super earths. Add to that that simulations of most solar systems are unstable having most planet...
  • M.L.
    I enjoyed this. It was a very good overall book - there were ideas and concepts in it I have either heard of or looked into myself over the years and it was nice to have them all presented in one space. That said there was also plenty I hadn't known - the detail into microbiology and its evolution was particularly fascinating. This book was easy to follow and didn't make the mistake of complicating theories by trying to present it as overly compl...
  • Brie
    This book was good, but it didn't grab me like his previous book - Gravity's Engines: How Bubble-Blowing Black Holes Rule Galaxies, Stars, and Life in the CosmosScharf describes many things, from the size of bacteria to the size of the solar system, Milky Way, etc. While doing this, he compares what we find 'out there' to what we believe to be true right here on Earth. I'm not sure he really came to a conclusion on our cosmic significance. Perhap...
  • Charlene
    Gravity's Engine made me a Scharf fan for life. I didn't love this book as much but it was still excellent. In particular, he excels at helping the reader understand why humans might be not understanding probability well enough when estimate the likelihood that life or earth-like planets exist elsewhere in the universe. I also enjoyed how much he championed the work of Lane and Martin (though I would have liked for him to give a nod to Margulis)....
  • Ed Kohinke sr.
    Okay, but the terms overreach, amateurism, and just plain fluffy narrative come to mind. Large portions of the book are very well written and objective, while in other parts of the book the author slips into subjectivity and a philosophizing that is annoying and just doesn't fit. There are nonscientists like me out here who crave good information on the latest in cosmology, evolution, etc. and I had hoped to find it from this author but didn't.
  • Holly
    This made my head hurt, but in a really good way.
  • Michelle Davaadorj
    Astrophysics, physics, anthropology, evolutionary biology, microbiology, chemistry- they all explained in this book which tries to answer the question if our planet is mediocre or not.
  • Kursad Albayraktaroglu
    This is a very well-written book with fascinating insights and scientific rigor. The author ponders the question of how significant life on Earth is; and takes the reader along in an intellectual journey that explores various ideas on how life began, how likely it was to begin, and how it could have begun elsewhere in the universe.One thing that the book does not provide is a definitive answer to the question "how likely are we to be alone in the...
  • Tom Quinn
    Not bad, but not the best starting place for this topic and not what I was expecting. The author does a good job of conveying enthusiasm for the major findings of Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler, and Newton, but he doesn't satisfactorily communicate just what those findings were--only that they were new and exciting. Like, as a layperson I would have appreciated a clearer summary of Kepler's laws in the text. Instead I had to look it up elsewhere. I ...
  • P Michael N
    Great read! So the author, Caleb Scharf, expands the Copernicus Theory to include our place in the cosmos and lays down some interesting findings. Is there anything special or significant about life on Earth, intelligent life on Earth, humanity, the time that we find ourselves in. Does one condition follow the other? This book explores how we got here, possible answers to these questions, whether these questions are the right questions to be aski...
  • Tapani Aulu
    Scharf osaa kirjoittaa koukuttavaa populaaritiedettä. Tässä kirjassa poraudutaan ikiaikaiseen kysymykseen siitä, olemmeko erityisiä. Scharf kysyy onko tieteelle tullut jo rasitteeksi ajatus siitä että me ihmiset ja maapallo emme ole millään tavalla ainutlaatuisia. Käsittely onjopa hieman yllättävää.
  • Peter Tillman
    Exo-planet stuff is interesting. Rest is OK, but already familiar (to me).See John Gribbin for an actual review,
  • Ed Terrell
    Scharf takes us on a wild journey from some muddy fertile pond, past the “flotsam and jetsam" of interplanetary dust, past the ice giants of Uranus and Neptune and into the nebulae, the very nurserys of interstellar space. Both historical and phantasmagorical, this trip enlightens and enlivens. I truly enjoyed his great skill as a writer and his colorful prose. He engages the reader and so you feel like an understudy as you leave the beaches of...
  • Julie
    The Copernican book was an interesting read and allows one to think a bit more profoundly on some of these large questions surrounding life on our planet and its neighbouring space. The author delves into the bacteria of life as in the micro-microism and wonders whether bacterial life holds the key to the secrets of life on Earth. The author explained that these microorganisms are the engineers of the planet, but hidden out of sight. “ I’ve o...
  • Joe Soltzberg
    Being someone with a fairly scientific background I tend to avoid most 'popular science' books. Often they all just rehash the same examples and ideas. It gets boring very quickly for anyone that is scientifically literate. That was not the case with this book though. The book was excellently written and explored unique ideas that aren't often discussed in most popular science books. The author does a great job giving a historical and scientific ...
  • Stephen Lee
    I didn't get on with this book. It has lots of interesting stuff, but somehow it didn't seem to be engaging. It's probably just a matter of taste, and maybe other people will get on better with reading it.but I got the impression that the material was being presented at 'arms length'. For the author this means that he doesn't seem to be presenting work he has been involved in. Many such books take a more autobiographical slant, telling of the pro...