There is nothing quite like staring at the night sky and seeing twinkles as billions and trillions of lights from distant stars. The night sky has captivated us as a species for tens of thousands of years. We connected patterns and created legends surrounding the constellations. I remember as a kid being fascinated and moved staring up at the distant places and hoping to see a shooting star so I could make a wish. Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s book Astrophysics for People in a Hurry has the power to bring you back to that childlike wonder you had staring at the night sky.
For those of you who have read Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time, this is Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s version and I find it even easier to understand than Hawking’s. For those who have never read much about astrophysics, black holes, and dark matter this is the perfect place to start as Neil makes complex topics simple to understand. You will walk away with a grasp on simplified concepts of our universe and how they translate from the tiniest particles to the largest. Tyson does a wonderful job incorporating his own personality and humor throughout the book and you see his humility come through.
One of the key highlights for me is the recognition that this is what we currently know and it is almost certain that it will change. As we reach the edge of our knowledge there is near certainty that our understanding of the galaxies will change because we do not have the complete picture and there is likely no way for us ever to have that complete picture. Tyson looks at the past to show this phenomenon and how we always understood more as new theories and calculations were presented. It is also interesting that because our universe or multiverse is ever expanding at some point we will not be able to see other galaxies. At that point in time, we would have no way of calculating or understanding what we are able to learn today through observation. This begs the question that maybe there are other things that billions of years ago we could see but now cannot. There (at our current time) is no way for us to observe and learn. The secrets of the universe may already be beyond our grasp. Thinking in these large terms is both humbling and frightening.
Astrophysics for People in a Hurry will allow you to take a step back from your day to day and expand your thinking. It helps put into perspective how far we have come, how fragile life is, and how small our world is in the universe. I encourage you to read this book it is a very quick read that I could not put down. It will leave you with many questions to ponder as you go about your day and life.
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