The most beautiful story in the world

Review on the most beautiful story in the world

The most beautiful story in the world. The Secrets of Our Origins by Hubert Reeves, Joël de Rosnay, Yves Coppens and Dominique Simonnet. with translation by Óscar Luis Molina.

As they say in the synopsis, it is the most beautiful story in the world because it is ours.

The format

The format of the "essay" I loved. It is divided into three parts, consisting of 3 interviews by the journalist Dominique Simonnet with a specialist in each area.

The first part is an interview with astrophysicist Hubert Reeves from the beginning of the universe until life appears on Earth.

In the second part, the biologist Joël de Rosnay is interviewed from the time life appears on earth until the first ancestors of humans appear.

Finally, in the third part, the paleoanthropologist Yves Coppens is asked about the period between the appearance of the first ascendants of the human being until today.

The interviews are very non-technical, asking the typical doubts that everyone has and insisting that they explain them in an accessible way.

The only thing I miss is that this book is from 1997 and many of the theories formulated here have been updated. A clear example is seen with the formation of the universe. The appearance of the Higgs boson has changed everything and today we know much more than 30 years ago.

But anyway this book lays the groundwork and clarifies scientific concepts that everyone should have. From how the universe was formed, to how natural selection works, how life arose on earth and how it has been adapting, to end up in the human being and what does it mean that we are "relatives of the monkey"

As always, I leave some interesting notes and ideas that I have come up with. It is a book to break down and investigate each of the topics covered. Something I would like to do over time.

The creation of the universe

After reading this chapter, it would be ideal to read Genesis by Guido Tonelli, to read the latest discoveries regarding the origin and formation of the universe. The combination is a real wonder.

The misconception of the Big Bang as an explosion of all the mass and energy concentrated in a point that explodes. He describes it as an explosion at every point in space.

The name of Big Bang comes from Fred Hoyle, an English astrophysicist, who defended the static universe model and in an interview to make fun of explaining the theory, he called it Big Bang, and with that name it has stayed.

The origin of life

Life did not appear in the oceans, it probably arose in lagoons and swamps, where there was quartz and clay, where the chains of molecules were trapped and there they associate with each other. In this way, the bases from which DNA ends up being formed appear.

The clay behaves like a small magnet, attracting the ions of matter and prompting them to react with each other.

Proteins are formed, made up of amino acids that bunch together, forming a ball on themselves. and this is a revolution. They are globules similar to drops of oil and are the first surviving forms. Being closed on itself, it differentiates between an interior and an exterior. And two types of globules are formed, those that trap other substances, break them down and aggregate them, and those that have pigments, get photons from the sun and are like little solar cells. They do not depend on absorbing external substances.

Can be reproduced in the laboratory

Stanley Miller, a young chemist of twenty-five years in 1952 simulated the ocean, filling the container with water. He heated the array to power it and caused sparks (instead of lightning). He repeated this for a week. An orange-red substance then appeared at the bottom of the container. It included amino acids, the building blocks of life!

The origin of the human being

It talks about the origin of art, culture and the misconception we have about Neanderthals. That they were intelligent, that they created art.

It traces the separation between chimpanzees, gorillas, etc. and homo sapiens by a geological process, the collapse of the Rift Valley, which causes some of its edges to rise and form a wall. A fault, giant from East Africa to the Red Sea and Jordan, ending in the Mediterranean, about 6.000 km and 4.000 km deep in Lake Tanganyika.

To one side, the west, the rain continues to fall, the species continue their usual life, they are the current apes, gorillas and chimpanzees. On the other side, in the east, the jungle recedes and becomes a dry region, and this drought is what pushes evolution to form pre-humans and then humans.

Standing up, omnivorous feeding, brain development, tool creation, etc., all, they postulate, would be due to an adaptation to a dry climate.

history of the birth of the universe, of life and of the human being

Evolution continues, of course. But now it is above all technical and social. Culture has taken over.

After the cosmic, chemical and biological phases, we are opening the fourth act, the one that will represent humanity in the next millennium. We access a collective consciousness of ourselves.

Why does this work so well in the physical world and so badly in the human world? Has nature reached its "level of incompetence" by venturing so far into complexity? That would be, I imagine, an interpretation based solely on the effects of natural selection from the Darwinian point of view. But if, on the other hand, one of the necessary products of evolution was the appearance of a free being, are we paying the price for that freedom? The cosmic drama could be summed up in three sentences: nature breeds complexity; complexity breeds efficiency; efficiency can destroy complexity.

Some notes

The most beautiful story in the world. The secrets of our origins
  • Voltaire's watch: its existence proved, according to him, the existence of a watchmaker.
  • Why is there something instead of nothing? Leibniz wondered. But it is a purely philosophical question, science is unable to answer it.
  • Is there an "intention" in nature? it is not a scientific question but rather a philosophical and religious one. Personally, I am inclined to answer yes. But what form does this intention have, what is this intention?

About the authors

Hubert Reeves


Joel de Rosnay


yves copens


Dominique Simonnet


Leave a comment