Sylvie Vauclair

The Birth of the Elements Publication date : October 12, 2006

Human beings are made of the same elements as the Earth, the sky and the universe. But they are infinitely richer and more complex than a simple gathering of chemical elements. Although it can be said that human beings are made of stardust, the structure and organisation of that “dust” is extraordinarily complex, mirroring the complexity of the notes that make up a musical score. But although a musical composition cannot be explained without a composer, these complex structures can be explained entirely naturally by the interactions that link the elementary particles among one another and enable the elaboration of objects that we are familiar with.
This book recounts the history of this genesis over the fourteen million years required for the universe to produce the elements and to elaborate the structures that make up our world.

Sylvie Auclair offers us here a new cosmogony: she describes the basic elements, chronicles the origin of their discovery, explains the principles that govern the fundamental interactions (gravity, electromagnetism, strong and weak interactions) and outlines the most important current theories about the origin and future of the universe.
Included here is a glossary of each element explaining its origin and use.
The author’s limpid style transforms this exploration of the secrets of the universe into a lively, accessible voyage of discovery, even for readers without any background in physics.

Sylvie Vauclair is an astrophysicist working at the Midi-Pyrénées Observatory, in France. She teaches at the University Paul Sabatier in Toulouse and is a member of the Institut Universitaire de France. Her research interests concern the formation and evolution of chemical elements that make up the matter of the universe: the sun, stars and primordial universe. She is a member of the National Academy of Air and Space and the author of La Symphonie des étoiles (2002) and La Chanson du soleil (1997).