The Human Cosmos

A Secret History of the Stars

Jo Marchant

The Human Cosmos by Jo Marchant (Hardback ISBN 9781786894021) book cover

Available as Hardback, eBook, Downloadable audio

3 September 2020

A journey through the history of science and man’s relationship with the night sky and the cosmos beyond, from the author of Royal Society Prize-shortlisted Cure

For most of human history, we have led not just an earthly existence but a cosmic one. Celestial cycles drove every aspect of our daily lives. Our innate relationship with the stars shaped who we are – our religious beliefs, power structures, scientific advances and even our biology. But over the last few centuries we have separated ourselves from the universe that surrounds us. And that disconnect comes at a cost.

In The Human Cosmos Jo Marchant takes us on a tour through the history of humanity’s relationship with the heavens. We travel to the Hall of the Bulls in Lascaux and witness the summer solstice at a 5,000-year-old tomb at Newgrange. We visit Medieval monks grappling with the nature of time and Tahitian sailors navigating by the stars. We discover how light reveals the chemical composition of the sun, and we are with Einstein as he works out that space and time are one and the same. A four-billion-year-old meteor inspires a search for extra-terrestrial life. And we discover why star-gazing can be really, really good for us.

It is time for us to rediscover the full potential of the universe we inhabit, its wonder, its effect on our health, and its potential for inspiration and revelation.


“Vast in scope and meticulously researched this brilliant book traces humanity’s enduring relationship with our physical and cultural ancestors: the stars. Full of fascinating stories, Jo Marchant weaves astronomy with astrology, mathematical physics with gods and spirits. It made me question my reality and left me starstruck”
Gaia Vince
author Of Transcendence And Adventures In The Anthropocene

See more reviews

”Praise for Cure: Should be compulsory reading for all young doctors”
new Scientist

“[Marchant] surveys with grace what we think we know, and what we would like to know, about the mysterious and troubling relationship between our minds and our bodies”
guardian

“[Marchant has a] flair for finding inspirational figures … the studies are irresistible, and they come in an almost infinite variety”
new York Times

“A revved-up, research-packed explication of the use of mind in medicine”
nature


Jo Marchant

Dr Jo Marchant is an award-winning science journalist. She has a PhD in genetics and medical microbiology from St Bartholomew’s Hospital Medical College, London, and an MSc in Science Communication from Imperial College. She has worked as an editor at New Scientist and Nature, and her articles have appeared in the Guardian, Wired, Observer, New Scientist and Nature. She is the author of Decoding the Heavens, shortlisted for the Royal Society Prize for Science Books, and Cure, shortlisted for the Royal Society Prize for Science Books and longlisted for the Wellcome Book Prize.

@JoMarchant | jomarchant.com