Astrophysics For People in a Hurry: a review

by Neil deGrasse Tyson –  208 pages
review by VJ Miller, Sr.

I’ve always had a strong interest in science, astrophysics and especially the history of discoveries in science. Nova, on PBS, has been a staple in my TV watching. I have seen Neil deGrasse Tyson many times on the program and when I heard of this book I had to see how he made it something a person in a hurry would want to take the time to read.

Naturally, it starts with the Big Bang and the multitude of events that happened in less than a second after the explosion; the first elements that were created and how and why they interacted with each other. He reminds us that the universe is under no obligation to make sense to us so this book goes on to bring the universe into focus in a way it can be understood.

Back to the Big Bang…

How and why did the stars suddenly ignite, live their life and eventually die in the greatest of explosions, a supernova and in doing so, create the heavier elements; a process that repeated a multitude of times before the planets came into being. All of this is explained in Neil’s easy demeanor and not in a dry list of facts and figures.

What formed the planets and the galaxies and what part did gravity play in all of these events? It’s all related in a way that is both interesting and amusing and does not bog down the narrative with unneeded text that only an astrophysicist would want to understand.

Space Isn’t Shrinking:

Why are the galaxies still getting farther apart and what part does Dark Matter and Dark Energy play in the process? It’s broken down in terms that are easy to digest. Why are planets and stars round and what is invisible light? All is explained in short order.

It concludes with a look at interactions of society on the whole and the dogma that drives them to do what they do; their disregard for the planet that sustains us. It may be a little preachy at the end but I understand and agree where Mr. Tyson is coming from and where we could eventually end if we’re not watchful.

Neil deGrasse Tyson is an American astrophysicist, author, and science communicator. Since 1996, he has been the Frederick P. Rose Director of the Hayden Planetarium at the Rose Center for Earth and Space in New York City.

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