This is a decent run-through of various topics/questions related to human existence: our place in the universe (in a cosmological sense), our place on the earth (in an evolutionary sense), the possibility of other intelligent life forms in the universe, and so on and so forth. Some of the scientific concepts I thought were well explained and I was able to follow and understand. Others just went over my head and I guess I'll have to try watching the TV series in the hope of finding better explanations there. Overall though this book left me with a good appreciation of the natural world and an appreciation of the human mind in how we've progressively (slowly but surely) advanced our understanding of it all. Below are some quotes from the book that stood out for me:
"The trick as an educated citizen of the twenty-first century is to realise that nature is far stranger and more wonderful than human imagination and the only appropriate response to new discoveries is to enjoy one's inevitable discomfort, take delight in being shown to be wrong and learn something as a result."
"Just have a look at something – the smallest, most trivial little thing – and enjoy trying to figure out how it works. That is science."
"... the natural world is orderly and simple, and can be described with great economy by a small set of laws."
"Scientific predictions are not perfect. Scientific theories are never correct. Scientific results are always preliminary. Whole fields of study can be rendered obsolete by new discoveries."
"It is surely true that there is no absolute meaning or value to our existence when set against the limitless stars. We are allowed to exist by the laws of nature and in that sense we have no more value that the stars themselves. And yet there is self-evidently meaning in the universe because my own existence, the existence of those I love, and the existence of the entire human race means something to me."