Every atom in our bodies has an extraordinary history. Our blood, our food, our books, our clothes - everything contains atoms forged in blistering furnaces deep inside stars, which were blown into space by those stars' cataclysmic explosions and deaths. From red giants - stars so enormous they could engulf a million suns - to supernova explosions - the most violent events in the universe - the birth of every atom was marked by cosmic events on an enormous scale, against a backdrop of unimaginable heat and cold, brightness and darkness, space and time. But how did we discover the astonishing truth about our cosmic origins? THE MAGIC FURNACE is Marcus Chown's extraordinary account of how scientists unravelled the mystery of atoms, and helped to explain the dawn of life. It is one of the greatest detective stories in the history of science. In fact, it is two puzzles intertwined, for the stars contain the key to unlocking the secret of atoms, and the atoms the solution to the secret of stars.