Why I read it?
Anytime there is a special alignment of the planets, a full moon, or any unique celestial event, I make sure to get my kids out of the house and have them look up in the night sky. I have always been a very curious person and my hope is to instill that curiosity in my children. Short of pursuing a degree in astrophysics, there aren’t many ways for someone to easily learn about this field of study. I read this book because of my curiosity for understanding the laws of nature and the science behind what we see in the sky. With the promise of simplifying extremely complex topics into a condensed and easily digestible format, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to learn more about a very fascinating subject. I had also listened to several interviews from the author, a well-known astrophysicist, and have found him to be witty and entertaining.
What is it all about?
Neil deGrasse Tyson transports you back to high school science class with a quick lesson on the periodic table and where to find each element throughout the universe. He then breaks down topics including dark matter, dark energy, invisible light, why planets are round, and takes us on a detailed tour of our solar system. We are also treated to explanations of quarks, supernovas, pulsars, gamma rays, and all things gravity. He then gives you a history lesson on astrophysics and weaves in some well-known characters like Sir Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein. This highlights their contributions to the field and the importance of their discoveries on present day astrophysics.
What caused me to pause?
While the author does not offer an opinion on the age-old question about whether we are alone in the universe, he does offer some insight into the types of signals and signs that we intentionally and unintentionally broadcast from Earth. I have never considered what our planet might look like from space at night or the types of detectable signals that leave our planet each day, traveling throughout space.
How will this book change my habits or influence me?
At the end of the day, we may have differences with each other, but we are on the same team as humans. Our problems here on Earth seem significant at times, but this book is a great reminder of how small we are in the universe. The fact that we are hurling through space on a giant round rock traveling at a speed of 67,000 miles per hour while supernovas explode in our galaxy is enough to keep me humble.
Add this to your reading list if…
You don’t have time or the ability to pursue a degree in astrophysics, but you want an easy-to-understand introduction to this field of study. This book is a very entertaining way to gain exposure to some mind-blowing topics.
Pickle Rating: 5 out of 5