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Death by Black Hole: And Other Cosmic Quandaries | [Neil deGrasse Tyson]

Death by Black Hole: And Other Cosmic Quandaries

Neil deGrasse Tyson has a talent for guiding readers through the mysteries of outer space with stunning clarity and almost childlike enthusiasm. This collection of his essays from Natural History magazine explores a myriad of cosmic topics. Tyson introduces us to the physics of black holes by explaining what would happen to our bodies if we fell into one; he also examines the needless friction between science and religion, and notes Earth's status as "an insignificantly small speck in the cosmos".
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Publisher's Summary

Neil deGrasse Tyson has a talent for explaining the mysteries of outer space with stunning clarity and almost childlike enthusiasm. This collection of his essays from Natural History magazine explores a myriad of cosmic topics, from astral life at the frontiers of astrobiology to the movie industry's feeble efforts to get its images of night skies right.

Tyson introduces us to the physics of black holes by explaining what would happen to our bodies if we fell into one; he also examines the needless friction between science and religion, and notes Earth's status as "an insignificantly small speck in the cosmos".

Renowned for his ability to blend content, accessibility, and humor, Tyson is a natural teacher who simplifies some of the most complex concepts in astrophysics while sharing his infectious excitement for our universe.

©2007 Neil deGrasse Tyson; (P)2007 Blackstone Audio Inc.

What the Critics Say

"Tyson takes readers on an exciting journey from Earth's hot springs...to the universe's farthest reaches....witty and entertaining." (Publishers Weekly)
"Smoothly entertaining, full of fascinating tidbits, and frequently humorous, these essays show Tyson as one of today's best popularizers of science." (Kirkus Reviews)
"[Tyson] demonstrates a good feel for explaining science in an intelligible way to interested lay readers; his rather rakish sense of humor should aid in making the book enjoyable." (Library Journal)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.0 (1989 )
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  •  
    Lind Duncan, British Columbia, Canada 05-25-07
    Lind Duncan, British Columbia, Canada 05-25-07
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Well written and well read"

    Neil deGrasse Tyson presents this complex subject in a clear and gripping way. The reader,Dion Graham, has just the right pace and inflection to keep your attention. Normally, this subject requires diagrams to clarify what is being said but this presentation is clear without them.

    An absorbing book that I look forward to hearing again.

    26 of 26 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jason Jacksonvilee, FL, USA 10-07-08
    Jason Jacksonvilee, FL, USA 10-07-08
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Tyson dishes it up and up...good show!"

    Tyson is an authoratative television personality who also has a great grasp of physics and the universe. This book had such a catchy title, how could I have even passed it up?

    While being much more approachable in terms of use of analogy to explain very complex scientific concepts, it is also a sounding board for Tyson to rant on a few topics that drive him crazy about popular culture's views of science.

    That said, it was a very fun book and well worth the money. Tyson is fun to listen to and his thoughts travel smoothly from point to point. He introduced me to some new information that I, even as an avid reader of all things science, had not known.

    The only thing that could have made this book even stronger, perhaps, would be expansion on some of the scientific thoughts for those of us more versed in science. But Tyson's strength is reaching the common man, and so I wasn't surprised that occasionally very in-depth accounting of scientific preceps didn't meet my voracious appetite's needs.

    I'll definitely be re-listening to this every now and again, though. It's wonderful for sitting outside and staring at the amazing sky. Bravo :)

    22 of 22 people found this review helpful
  •  
    10-01-08
    10-01-08 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Great for an introduction to space and astronomy"

    This is a great read for those looking to get an introduction to Space and Astronomy. The presentation bounces around lots of fascinating space facts and theories that keep you captivated. Even if you are not new to space, astronomy and the solar system, this is a great read. I found myself enjoying the many things I didn't know before and discovering space a new.

    13 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Roberta 04-19-07
    Roberta 04-19-07
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Well worth the time"

    I read a lot of popular science and I really appreciate a well read, well written, presentation of the information. The author, a good choice for reading his own book, gives flavor and enthusiasm to his reading. He knows where he wants the emphasis and conveys his own excitement of the subject with his voice.
    This is a basic introduction to the subject of astrophysics, and thus presents no mind-boggling discoveries to those who read or watch this subject closely. He does, however, answer many questions, sometime with speculation, which he freely admits, which I have been asking most of my life.
    I listened to this book while I worked around the house, and my reluctance to stop listening gave me the opportunity to get lots of work done in the yard.
    I highly recommend the book.

    38 of 40 people found this review helpful
  •  
    James San Jose, CA, United States 01-21-08
    James San Jose, CA, United States 01-21-08 Member Since 2007

    Give me science, or give me death!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A valuable perspective"

    The author communicates beautifully, to the laymen and scientifically-minded alike, a cosmologists perspective on our place in the universe, as well as the places where others might inhabit.
    Due to the way this book was compiled, of the content is a bit redundant, but that helps it sink in better, I guess.

    11 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    R. Bell Harrisonburg, VA United States 05-29-07
    R. Bell Harrisonburg, VA United States 05-29-07 Listener Since 2005

    kidagain

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Grasping the largeness of it all"

    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.

    11 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Christine Darnestown, MD, USA 10-27-07
    Christine Darnestown, MD, USA 10-27-07 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Hard to put down"

    Of the scientific book I listened to lately, this one was probably one of the best. Not just did it provide a comprehensible excursion through astrophysics, it also provided insights into other areas of the physical world and was intellectually quite stimulating...to the point where I had to write an E-mail to the author to ask a question about something I did not understand in the book...and the E-mail was promptly answered by a member of his lab...well worth the read!

    10 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kricket 09-08-09
    Kricket 09-08-09 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
    48
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    "easy to understand"

    Easy to understand for an astrophysics book! Neil does a great job of writing for the average person (I have a bachelor's in Chemistry, but I knew very little astrophysics). I never felt talked down to. It was a lot of fun to read! I especially enjoyed his description of a death by black hole as spaghettification. If you want to learn more about astrophysics, this is a great way to start!

    9 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Malcolm Hagensborg, British Columbia, Canada 12-04-07
    Malcolm Hagensborg, British Columbia, Canada 12-04-07
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A good listen"

    Very enjoyable, offers brief explanations the sciences behind the objects which we use in everyday life as well as understandable clarifications of the findings in todays scientific frontiers. The author has a gift for making humorous and enlightening analogies and the narrator has an engaging voice. This is an audible offering I shall listen to many times.

    9 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    K-Rock Perkiomenville, PA United States 10-02-13
    K-Rock Perkiomenville, PA United States 10-02-13 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A little tough to follow, but pretty interesting"
    Would you listen to Death by Black Hole again? Why?

    Probably not. The "book" is actually a series of articles that are put together like a chapter book. As such there is a decent degree of redundancy. The plus side is that with repetition comes increased comprehension (as the subject matter can be a little heady for us non-science types)...the downside is that the book really could have been condensed by an order of a few hours with all the repeate material


    What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

    the narrator is generally personable and you can easily visualize Neil deGrasse Tyson in his style. To each their own on this but I think the most compelling aspect of the narrative for me is getting a greater appreciation for the sheer magnitude of the universe versus the sheer insignficance of our place in it.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    For someone with nothing more than a beginners understanding of astrophysics, I found all of it pretty interesting. Probably, my favorite were the portions that focus on the potential for life on other planets.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    "bring your pillow" kidding. my guess is books on astrophysics don't translate well to the big screen. Probably better suited for PBS or the Discovery Channel


    Any additional comments?

    A little repetitious but fascinating stuff to the layman.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-10 of 98 results PREVIOUS1210NEXT
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  • Katie
    Newton Abbot, Devon, United Kingdom
    8/17/10
    Overall
    "Brilliant"

    Unusually for a non ficton book this made me laugh out loud in parts. A ripping good listen for anyone wanting to learn about the cosmos and be entertained!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Aernout
    Cape TownSouth Africa
    7/8/10
    Overall
    "The worst clown taking you on a nightmare tour"

    I have honestly given this guy a try, a few times even. First when I bought it, over a year ago, and again a few months later, and I tried it again earlier this week. But what should indeed be a Journey Through It All becomes a guided tour where after a few block you feel like doing something bad to the guide because of his irritant way of trying to be the superstar himself instead of showing you around.
    Both the author as well as the narrator (haven't checked if they're the same or not) think they are the Clown of the Class Room with the worst jokes ever, the most boring 'tongue in cheek' attempts to entertain, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

    If through the horrible text a star shines through it is - trust me - because of the strength of the star and is in no way caused by this most boring of books ever to have graced my virtual bookshelf.

    Although I have loads of space on my disk, this book is going through the digital destructor.

    What an absolute waste of money, time and effort...
    Worst audiobook in my wide collection.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Juliet
    Compton Martin, Bristol, United Kingdom
    3/24/10
    Overall
    "Arduous"

    Have given up listening to this repeatedly as it failed to grab my attention...

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Diana
    Lydney, United Kingdom
    4/15/09
    Overall
    "left brained"

    Good stuff within but author rather stuck in his own academic thinking to think outside the box.
    Not for those who like to explore other ways of thinking.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Anthony
    GardenviewSouth Africa
    2/6/09
    Overall
    "Great Content Badly Read"

    Audible is one of the best things since sliced bread. Of the books I've downloaded only one has irritated me to the extent I felt I had to post a review.
    The content of this book is amazing, exciting and real. It contains a number of concepts that need to be digested and thought over and this is where the problem lies.
    The reader attacks the content in such a way that there's hardly a pause between words and certainly no time to even think about the points made let alone mull them over for a fraction of a second.
    I have never heard written words spoken so quickly for so long and I'm amazed that the producer (or whatever the right name is for the overseer of a recording) didn't recognize this and either get a new reader or cancel the production completely.
    This may sound a little harsh but I was just not able to get beyond the second hour of what promised to be an amazing journey.
    The book is worthy of being re-recorded... with a carefully selected reader. Which brings me to a general question... how are readers selected?

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Christopher
    Cheltenham, United Kingdom
    12/21/08
    Overall
    "Down to Earth, in a space sort of way"

    I've an inherent interest in anything "space" and physics, but this book is quite superb. The information is presented in an easily understandable way, with technical terms explained. There is subtle humour to keep it light hearted. I've listened to it several times now, and still want to go back for more!
    Bravo

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Becki
    United Kingdom
    3/17/10
    Overall
    "Interesting but heavy going."

    From other reviews I was expecting something along the lines of A Brief History of Nearly Everything but I was disappointed. Although this is undeniably interesting and fascinating at points, this book is regularly hard-going. Bryson is an average person who (just like us) is trying to get to grips with some truly mind-blowing subjects but at the end of the day Tyson is a scientist and therefore struggles to lay it out for the average person. Mildly amusing at points and I must say that I understand more than I ever have done about the wonders of the sloar system. If you're prepared to concentrate and admit you might not understand it all then it's worth it.

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 11-17 of 17 results PREVIOUS12NEXT

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