Reviews of Genesis by Guido Tonelli

Genesis

The Story of How Everything Began

by Guido Tonelli

Genesis by Guido Tonelli X
Genesis by Guido Tonelli
  • Critics' Opinion:

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     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Apr 2021, 240 pages

    Paperback:
    Apr 2022, 240 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Will Heath
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Book Summary

A breakout bestseller in Italy, now available for American readers for the first time, Genesis: The Story of How Everything Began is a short, humanistic tour of the origins of the universe, earth, and life - drawing on the latest discoveries in physics to explain the seven most significant moments in the creation of the cosmos.

Curiosity and wonderment about the origins of the universe are at the heart of our experience of the world. From Hesiod's Chaos as found in his poem about the origins of the Greek gods, Theogony, to today's mind-bending theories of the multiverse, we have been consumed by the relentless pursuit of one awe-inspiring question: What exactly happened during those first moments?

Guido Tonelli, acclaimed, award-winning particle physicist and a central figure in the discovery of the Higgs boson (the "God particle"), reveals the extraordinary story of our genesis―from the origins of the universe to the emergence of life on earth, to the birth of human language and its power to describe the world. Evoking the seven days of Biblical creation, Tonelli takes us on a brisk, lively tour of the evolution of our cosmos, and considers the incredible challenges scientists face in exploring its mysteries. Genesis both explains the fundamental physics of our universe and marvels at the profound wonder of our existence.

Introduction: The Grand Narrative of Origins

Forty thousand years ago, when the second wave of Homo sapiens arrived from Africa, many areas of Europe were already populated by Neanderthals. Organised into small clans, they lived in caves that today provide unequivocal proof of a complex symbolic universe: walls painted with symbols and drawings of animals, bodies buried in foetal positions, bones and large stalactites arranged in ritual circles; plentiful evidence, in other words, of a culture that had in all probability also developed a sophisticated spoken language.

It is possible, then, to imagine hearing a story of the origins of the world already resounding in those caves, the elders transmitting it to the young through the power of words and the magic of memory: the echo of an ancient narrative. It would be thousands of generations before Hesiod (or whoever we know by that name) left us, in his Theogony, a written account of how our universe came into being, woven from poetry and...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Genesis is a book of constant surprises, one that leads to a real feeling of growth and understanding. While it can overwhelm, the end result is one of enlightenment. Tonelli has fun with mythology, religion and philosophy. He remarks on the human thirst for knowledge and our tendency to look up when asking the big questions, tying science into creation myths in a respectful and entertaining way. By doing this, Tonelli keeps the topic of creation relevant to the human experience, allowing us to understand how events that occurred in the depths of space 13.8 billion years ago are intrinsically tied to our own thoughts and musings, as well as the very foundations of our cultures and religions...continued

Full Review (715 words).

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(Reviewed by Will Heath).

Media Reviews

Booklist (starred review)
Readers will thrill at the opportunity to accompany a world-class physicist to the frontiers of cosmological science... [Genesis is] a science book that will matter deeply to nonscientists.

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
From his descriptions of the Big Bang to human creativity and storytelling, [Tonelli's] writing is lush and inviting, offering countless points of entry...With clarity and just the right amount of technical language, Tonelli tackles complex subjects such as supersymmetry, dark matter, and the births of stars and planets...An exhilarating exploration of the cosmos that is both poetic and cutting-edge.

Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Tonelli's storytelling successfully weaves curiosity, Greek mythology, and scientific discovery...Already a bestseller in Italy, Tonelli's lyrical story of creation is sure to ignite the imaginations of American readers

Library Journal
For those interested in a different approach to understanding the universe's beginnings.

Corriere della Sera
A wonderful scientific narrative.

La Repubblica
An exquisite tale.

Author Blurb Jim Baggott, author of Origins and Quantum Reality
The scientific story of the origin and evolution of our universe is much like a collection of the brittle scrolls of some ancient philosopher. We have mere fragments, enough to be sure that this is the one great poem of the universe, but tantalisingly incomplete. In Genesis, Guido Tonelli guides us expertly through what we know, what we don't know, and what we can only guess. You will find poetry here, and a strong sense of wonder and awe.

Author Blurb Marcus du Sautoy, author of The Music of the Primes
Tonelli takes the reader on the most thrilling roller-coaster ride, starting with the void and ending 13.8 billion years later with the complex multiverse we currently inhabit. Neatly divided into seven chapters corresponding to different cosmological epochs, this is the modern-day Genesis narrative told by a master story teller.

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Beyond the Book

Creation Myths

Ymir Suckling the Cow Audhumla by Nicolai Abildgaard Woven into Guido Tonelli's Genesis are origin myths from different cultures and religions throughout history. He frames his work using the first book of the Hebrew Bible and often brings up creation myths from around the world. So what are these myths, and what do they have in common?

In the creation story found in the Hebrew Bible and Christian Old Testament, God created the world in seven days. On the first day was light; on the second, the sky. On the third day, He created the land, seas, plants and trees. On the fourth day came the sun and the moon. On the fifth day were the living creatures that swim and fly. On the sixth day, God created land animals and humans; on the seventh, He rested.

The Norse myth of creation is quite ...

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