In The Beginning: Symposium on The Origin of Planets and Life
Held as part of the Copernicus 500th Birthday Celebration at Canberra on 27 April 1973
This book consists of a connected series of invited papers presented by a number of distinguished specialists in a Symposium on the Origins of Planets and Life held at the Australian Academy of Science on 27 April 1973. It is written, as far as possible, in language which is both understandable to the layman and stimulating to the scientist. The series of papers traces the early history of our planet and the emergence of life, ending, by way of a postscript, with a piece of speculation about how we might make contact with intelligent life on other worlds.
The picture on the cover is an impression of the appearance of the primitive Earth according to ideas discussed by Professor Ringwood in Chapter 3. It shows an incandescent central condensation surrounded by a cooler ring which led to the formation of the Moon. This impression might equally be of the early stages of a major planet such as Saturn surrounded by its rings: or of the contracting Sun surrounded by the nebulous gas from which the planets formed.
Actually the picture is of the Sombrero Hat Galaxy (NGC 4594) and is taken from the Mount Wilson and Palomar Galaxy Catalogue. It appears that the process responsible for the evolution of many galaxies, stars and planet-satellite systems may conform to a unified pattern.