earth: both extraordinary and insignificant

The-star-V838-Monocerotis-009Tim Radford at The Guardian:

His book is an intoxicating collection of questions answered with other questions, and startling discoveries that make creation even more mysterious. A couple of decades ago, physicists spoke confidently of a “theory of everything” and one or two even proposed an “end to science”. All has now changed. The mysteries have multiplied.

Forget the tricksy parenthesis in the subtitle. Skip past an early tendency to label scientists as budding, and science as cutting-edge. This book expands, like spacetime itself, from a very small point. It begins with the microscope pioneer Antony van Leeuwenhoek's famous discovery in Delft in 1674 of a microcosm in a drop of lake water, and it ends with speculation about a lonely civilisation, 100bn years on, in a freezing vacuum that no longer contains information about anything. Books such as these remind us that we are lucky to be here at all, and even luckier to be here now.

more here.