Gen-Xer, software engineer, and lifelong avid reader. Soft spots for sci-fi, fantasy, and history, but I'll read anything good.
While no one can replace Carl Sagan, Tyson might be the nearest thing the 2010s have to him, a friendly advocate of the sciences who knows how to explain abstract topics in everyday language without dumbing them down or dissipating their inherent wonder. I enjoyed his series on NOVA, so I decided to pick up this book after I noticed it on sale at audible.
No regrets. If you want an introduction or a refresher course on the basics of astronomy and astrophysics, this series of essays on various topics should fill in the gaps nicely. Tyson covers topics such as the mechanics of the solar system, the formation of the Earth and planets, the Big Bang and the origins of the universe, and the essential concepts of 20th century physics (quantum theory, relativity, subatomic particles, forces, string theory). Much of the ground Tyson treads will be familiar to those who watched Dr. Sagan's classic Cosmos series in the early 1980s, but a lot of discoveries have been made since then, so the update is worthwhile. Like Sagan, Tyson makes no bones about the fact that he sees science, not religion/superstition/mysticism, as the only reliable tool for understanding how the universe actually works. As he points out, no religious text has yet proved useful for predicting physical phenomena -- in fact, The Bible significantly misstates the value of Pi. (However, he's much less obnoxious about it than Dawkins.)
Tyson also spends some time nitpicking on the scientific errors in several Hollywood blockbusters. Yes, he's that guy -- the one that you stopped inviting to Doctor Who night.
If I have a complaint about this book, it's that its provenance as a collection of articles is pretty obvious. Things that were stated as assumptions or background information in one chapter will be repeated again a few chapters later. The editor could have done a better job integrating everything. And it's probably not a book I'd recommend to more knowledgeable readers; most of the information here, though presented in an appealing, accessible way, is basic.
I'd consider the audio edition equivalent or better than the print version. Neil deGrasse Tyson has such a talent for explaining advanced concepts in a way that is accessible to the everyman. He explores the works of the greatest minds in human history and condenses them into a non-technical, accessible medium for all to enjoy. Rest assured, there is nothing lost in enjoying this book in the audio format. Aside from the proverbial "E=mc^2" there are no formulas to intimidate and no mathematics required.
I'm sure this is better suited as a question for a fiction novel. I mean, is Neil an option?
Dion Graham brings this book to life and seems very at ease discussing concepts of the universe as we know it. He's very easy to understand and follow and is on my list of enjoyable narrators.
As I have a background in physics there was not a lot for me to learn scientifically from this book; however, I can always find better ways to explain advanced concepts and make them accessible by listening to Dr. Tyson's musings.
Yes, if you are a scientific enthusiast, just curious about the world around you, or you chair the physics department at a prestigious university, you'll find something worth knowing here. Neil deGrasse Tyson has a remarkable talent for explaining the universe around us and I've met no rival to him.
Learn, understand, then decide whether you accept or reject.
For anyone interested in getting an informative and entertaining ride through the history of science and cosmology, this is the book for you.
From Aristotle to Einstein to Hollywood and the multiverse, this book is a refreshing view on the history of cosmic research and theories. And yes, there is a whole chapter about what happens if you fall into a black hole.
Medical Doctor Gastroenterologist and Infectious disease specialist Scientist. I collect calculators, I am learning Mandarin.
These astronomy and science articles by Tyson are mostly very good. Some are a little bit simplistic but most are quite deep. I listened to it a few times and learned a lot. If I ever get back to New York I am going to drop by the planetarium and shake the author's hand.
The content is fantastic and vivid, roughly walking us through the start of the universe to our modern understanding of that start, always with a strong astronomical and cosmic perspective.
One of the most fascinating parts to me was fairly early on in the book, when the author described all of the scientific observations and deductions that could be made just by sticking a stick in the ground and observing its shadow!
I also appreciated, in a slightly terrifying way, the breakdown of the various ways the human race might be wiped out due to some space-borne or space-delivered disaster. Tyson shares an extremely provoking thought when he mentions that we as humans may one day be extinct and, upon being examined by some future intelligent species on this planet, wonders how big-brained mammals met the same fate of extinction as the "pea-brained" dinosaurs!
The reader is wonderful, with appropriate emphasis and pacing and the production is top-notch delivering a clear and crisp recording.
Overall, I really enjoyed this and it goes on my "re-listen in the future" list - both because it is such an enjoyable read, but also because there is so much fascinating information that I feel a second (or possibly even third) listen is needed to absorb it all!
If you are interested in matters of mankind progressing in the scientific endeavor, in matters astronomical or cosmological, and especially if you might like to hear how it could all go sideways on us due to the massive forces at work in our universe - I can highly recommend this book!
A good many wonderful essays, but even more valuably, parables and weavings, are found within this book. A bit of Tyson's material is a bit pretentious for my tastes, but it comes rarely and is easily recognized when it does.
Physics the way I like it - easy to comprehend, with more than a dash of humor. One of the best laymen's science books I've ever read. And Neil DeGrasse Tyson is my favorite astrophysicist: ever since I saw him on TV show "The Universe" I've wanted to read his books.
I found it personally amazing at how I found the book enjoyable. I am an engineer and numbers and science come easy for me to understand, so maybe that has something to do with it. I had just finished reading "Einstein" so my mind was insync with the story of this book. I enjoyed the descriptions of how early thinkers went about proving their theories of the cosmos and heavens. I learned that my falling into a "black hole" would not involved my being compressed to death but rather it would involve my being pulled apart or disassembled atom by atom (or was it molecule by molecule). I have been enriched by this piece of knowledge and will find some way to use it in future conversations with my friends. I recommend the book.
DeGrasse gives you blurbs that makes scientific ideas relatively easy to understand conceptually. If you're a physicist, I guessing it would be bore. But as a layman, I found it very informative and approachable.
DeGrasse's irreverence comes through, sometimes bordering on snarky.
This book is series of essay that are not necessary dependent upon each other. You can easily put it down and come back between other books, or listen for a half hour or so between other interests. My general interest is history and especially ancient history. This book is nice way to cleans the palate between other books.