The Copernicus complex : our cosmic significance in a universe of planets and probabilities

Scharf, Caleb A., 1968- author

Publication Details Click to collapse Cite/Export

  • Creator Caleb Scharf
  • Format Books
  • Publication First edition. New York : Scientific American/Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2014.
  • Physical Details
    • 278 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
  • ISBNs 9780374129217, 0374129215, 9780374709464
  • OCLC ocn869263752


  • "A groundbreaking revision of the Copernican principle Though the concept of "the universe" suggests the containment of everything, the latest ideas in cosmology hint that our universe may be just one of a multitude of others--a single slice of an infinity of parallel realities. In The Copernicus Complex, the renowned astrophysicist and author Caleb Scharf takes us on a cosmic adventure like no other, from tiny microbes within the Earth to distant exoplanets and beyond, asserting that the age-old Copernican principle is in need of updating. As Scharf argues, when Copernicus proposed that the Earth was not the fixed point at the center of the known universe (and therefore we are not unique), he set in motion a colossal scientific juggernaut, forever changing our vision of nature. But the principle has never been entirely true--we do live at a particular time, in a particular location, under particular circumstances. To solve this conundrum we must put aside our Copernican worldview and embrace the possibility that we are in a delicate balance between mediocrity and significance, order and chaos. Weaving together cutting-edge science and classic storytelling, historical accounts and speculations on what the future holds, The Copernicus Complex presents a compelling argument for what our true cosmic status is, and proposes a way forward for the ultimate quest: to determine life's abundance not just across this universe but across all realities"--
  • "A groundbreaking revision of the Copernican Principle"--


  • Includes bibliographical references (pages 233-263) and index.


  • From microcosm to cosmos -- The Copernicus Complex -- The ten-billion-year spree -- Neighbors -- A grand illusion -- Sugar and spice -- Hunters of the cosmic plain -- There's something about here -- (In)Significance
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