Astrophysics for People in a Hurry
Neil deGrasse Tyson
W. W. Norton and Company
DESCRIPTION: Relativity theory, the Big Bang, pulsars, galaxy clusters, dark matter... Science news reports on all manner of new theories and discovered wonders in the universe these days, but to the average person, it can be more than a little overwhelming. Popular scientist Neil deGrasse Tyson breaks down the vast field of astrophysics for people who don't know where or how to start.
REVIEW: This title promises a quick, simplified "tour" of the vast (literally and theoretically) field of astrophysics and why it's so important. For the most part, it delivers. Starting with the "Big Bang" at the start of the (known current) universe, it touches on the terms, discoveries, and theories that inform our current understanding of reality as we know it... and how each breakthrough leads to more questions. From the stars at night to the very atoms that make up our bodies, we literally owe everything in existence to events billions of years ago. At the end, Tyson touches on why sciences like astrophysics, which seem to have no tangible short-term benefit, are really the most important of all if we're ever going to mature and survive as a species. (Given recent attitudes toward science by more than one developed country, I sadly suspect H. sapiens has chosen voluntary extinction over embracing the notion that we aren't the center of the universe, but I digress...) The organization can be a bit scattershot, and even in simplified terms some of the concepts are just too big to stuff into my undereducated primate gray matter, but it does live up to its title.
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