From Chaos to Consciousness

A Brief History of the Universe
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166 pages
From Chaos to Consciousness” is a textbook intended for a one-semester course in Astronomy. As the title implies, it is the story of human evolution in the cosmic sense of the word.
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Über den Autor

Thomas Michael “Mike” Corwin is an observational astronomer and a retired Professor of Physics from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. His principle research area is RR Lyrae variable stars in globular clusters. He is the author of numerous research publications and several textbooks.


The word “evolution” is generally taken to mean biological evolution. However, biological evolution is simply the natural consequence of cosmic, stellar, geological, and chemical evolution. “From Chaos to Consciousness: A Brief History of the Universe” is the story of human evolution in this broader sense of the word. It is a textbook intended for a one-semester course in Astronomy and, after a few introductory chapters on the history of astronomy and the present universe, is narrowly focused on material directly and chronologically related to the eventual rise of conscious beings in the universe.

  1. The Greeks
    1. Introduction
    2. The Birth of Science
    3. The Greek Worldview
    4. Islam & Science
  2. The Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and the Reformation
    1. Late Antiquity and The Early Middle Ages
    2. The Late Middle Ages
    3. The Renaissance
    4. The Reformation
  3. The Scientific Revolution
    1. Nicolaus Copernicus
    2. Tycho Brahe
    3. Johannes Kepler
    4. Galileo Galilei
    5. Isaac Newton
    6. The Enlightenment
  4. Charles Darwin and Evolution
    1. The Theory of Evolution
    2. Fossils
    3. Punctuated Equilibrium
    4. The Modern Synthesis
  5. Matter and Light
    1. Atoms
    2. The Chemical Elements
    3. Radioactive Decay
    4. Electromagnetic Radiation
    5. The Electromagnetic Spectrum
    6. Spectroscopy
  6. The Present Universe
    1. The Milky Way
    2. Other Galaxies
    3. Hubble’s Law
    4. The Expansion of Space
    5. The Contents of Galaxies
    6. The Universe vs The Visible Universe
  7. The Big Bang
    1. George Lemaitre
    2. George Gamow
    3. Robert Dicke
    4. Penzias and Wilson
  8. The Early Universe
    1. Quarks and Leptons
    2. Protons and Neutrons
    3. Nuclei
    4. Atoms
  9. Modern Cosmology
    1. WMAP
    2. Dark Energy
    3. The Contents of the Universe
    4. The Geometry of the Universe
    5. Cosmological Models
  10. Stellar Evolution
    1. The Birth of a Star
    2. Hydrogen Fusion
    3. The Deaths of Stars
    4. Supernovae
  11. The Formation of the Earth
    1. The Solar System
    2. The Origin of the Solar System
    3. The Age of the Solar System
    4. The Geological Evolution of the Earth
  12. Biological Evolution
    1. Chemical Evolution
    2. Biological Evolution
    3. Primates
  13. Human Evolution
    1. Lucy
    2. The Earliest Hominids
    3. Australopithecines
    4. Homo habilis
    5. Homo erectus
    6. Homo neanderthalensis
    7. Homo sapiens
  14. Consciousness
    1. The Human Brain
    2. The Mind-Body Problem
    3. How Does the Brain Think?
    4. The Evolution of Consciousness