The Amazing Unity of the Universe

And Its Origin in the Big Bang

  • Edward van den Heuvel

Part of the Astronomers' Universe book series (ASTRONOM)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-x
  2. Edward van den Heuvel
    Pages 1-4
  3. Edward van den Heuvel
    Pages 5-29
  4. Edward van den Heuvel
    Pages 31-45
  5. Edward van den Heuvel
    Pages 47-65
  6. Edward van den Heuvel
    Pages 67-77
  7. Edward van den Heuvel
    Pages 97-116
  8. Edward van den Heuvel
    Pages 137-160
  9. Edward van den Heuvel
    Pages 161-170
  10. Edward van den Heuvel
    Pages 197-214
  11. Edward van den Heuvel
    Pages 215-226
  12. Edward van den Heuvel
    Pages 227-236
  13. Edward van den Heuvel
    Pages 237-252
  14. Edward van den Heuvel
    Pages 253-269
  15. Edward van den Heuvel
    Pages 271-276
  16. Back Matter
    Pages 277-315

About this book


In the first chapters the author describes how our knowledge of the position of Earth in space and time has developed, thanks to the work of many generations of astronomers and physicists. He discusses how our position in the Galaxy was discovered, and how in 1929, Hubble uncovered the fact that the Universe is expanding, leading to the picture of the Big Bang. He then explains how astronomers have found that the laws of physics that were discovered here on Earth and in the Solar System (the laws of mechanics, gravity, atomic physics, electromagnetism, etc.) are valid throughout the Universe. This is illustrated by the fact that all matter in the Universe consists of atoms of the same chemical elements that we know on Earth. This unity is all the more surprising when one realizes that in the original Big Bang theory, different parts of the Universe could never have communicated with each other. It then is a mystery how they could have shared the same physical laws. This problem was solved by the introduction of the idea of inflation, a phase of extremely rapid expansion of the Universe during the first fraction of a second following the Big Bang. The author explains how the unity of the Universe finds its origin in the Big Bang prior to inflation. The book addresses the many fundamental questions about the Universe and its contents from the perspective of the Big Bang: the formation of structure in the Universe, the questions of the mysterious dark matter and dark energy, the possibilities of other Universes (the Multiverse) and of the existence of intelligent life elsewhere in the Universe.


Anthropic Principle Big Bang Cosmic Evolution Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation Cosmological Constant Dark Energy Dark Matter Evolution of the Universe Inflation of the Universe Life in the Universe Origin of the Universe Structure Formation Unity of the Universe Vaccuum Energy

Authors and affiliations

  • Edward van den Heuvel
    • 1
  1. 1.Astronomical InstituteUniversity of Amsterdam Astronomical InstituteAmsterdamThe Netherlands

Bibliographic information