padJust Six Numbers Deep Forces that Shape the Universe

by Martin Rees

How was it that a single "genesis event" could create billions of galaxies, black holes, stars and planets? How did atoms assemble-here on Earth, and perhaps on other worlds-into living beings that were intricate enough to ponder their own origins and purpose? What are the fundamental laws that govern out universe? This book introduces to a general readership for the first time new discoveries about, and remarkable insights into, these fundamental questions.

There are profound connections between stars and atoms. In this accessible and highly original book, Martin Rees demonstrates how it is that just six numbers, imprinted in the "big bang," determine the essential features of the physical cosmos. Moreover, cosmic evolution is astonishingly sensitive to the values of these numbers. If any one of them were "untuned," there could be no stars and no life. This realization offers a radically new perspective on the universe and our place in it, and on the nature of physical laws.

Written by one of the most brilliant and visionary living cosmologists, Just Six Numbers is indispensable reading for anyone who seeks to understand the deep forces that shape, quite simply, everything.

--from Basic Books

Had it not been for six very precise numbers, cosmologist Rees speculates, the nature of our universe may have gone all wrong, lacking the capability to produce atoms, stars, or life. Indelibly printed on the Big Bang, these numbers hold clues to our universe’s formation and how atoms assembled into stars, planets, and complex life-forms. For instance, Rees argues that if e were valued at 0.006 or 0.008 instead of 0.007, people would not exist. Of these six mathematical designations, two relate to basic forces, two fix the size and overall texture of our universe, and two fix the properties of space itself.

--from Science News

Originally published in hardcover in 1999.

Basic Books, 2001, 195 pages, illus., paperback

Just Six Numbers
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