Joel R. Primack

Joel R. Primack is a professor of physics at the University of California at Santa Cruz.  He is also a research cosmologist, a leader in the new field of particle astrophysics, and one of the principal originators and developers of the theory of Cold Dark Matter. With his wife, Nancy Abrams, Primack teaches an award-winning course called “Cosmology and Culture,” from which the two developed their book The View from the Center of the Universe and The New Universe and the Human Future: How a Shared Cosmology Could Transform the World. He has authored more than 200 technical articles for professional journals as well as written many articles for a popular audience. Primack is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He was a founder of the Union of Concerned Scientists and served on the board of the Federation of American Scientists.



  • The View from the Center of the Universe: Discovering Our Extraordinary Place in the Cosmos
  • The New Universe and the Human Future: How a Shared Cosmology Could Transform the World



After a four-century rupture between science and the questions of value and meaning, this groundbreaking book presents an explosive and potentially life-altering idea: if the world could agree on a shared creation story based on modern cosmology and biology—a story that has just become available—it would redefine our relationship with Planet Earth and benefit all of humanity, now and into the distant future.

Written in eloquent, accessible prose and illustrated in magnificent color throughout, including images from innovative simulations of the evolving universe, this book brings the new scientific picture of the universe to life. It interprets what our human place in the cosmos may mean for us and our descendants. It offers unique insights into the potential use of this newfound knowledge to find solutions to seemingly intractable global problems such as climate change and unsustainable growth. And it explains why we need to “think cosmically, act globally” if we’re going to have a long-term, prosperous future on Earth.

The New Universe and the Human Future book cover

We had been thinking about a book for years but struggling to figure out how to structure a book about the universe and its meaning,” explained Nancy Abrams. “We did send out a proposal with a top science book agent in New York a few years ago, but he shopped it around for a week, got several responses of ‘too complicated,’ and dropped it immediately. He made no effort to help us improve it. We met Doug in late 2002, and over the course of a year, working over our ideas with him, we re-conceptualized the book and learned from Doug how an effective proposal is written.”

Doug presented the proposal to publishers in mid-September 2003,” said Joel Primack, “and just one week later a bidding war was on between two of the biggest publishers, and both were offering very high six figure advances. This was at least an order of magnitude more than we had expected. We realized we couldn’t decide between them on the basis of money alone. We wanted to meet the people behind the offers, so we flew out to New York with Doug. With Doug’s brilliant negotiating skills, in the end we were able to structure a deal where we got our dream publisher.

“We trust him completely, both in his business dealings and in his personal and artistic judgment. Meeting him has transformed us as authors, and we are very grateful.”