Book 228: Welcome To The Universe

pc360_2016-12-21-09-13-52-871Welcome To The Universe: An Astrophysical Tour by Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Michael A. Strauss and J. Richard Gott

Rating: 8/10

Finished reading on December 18th, 2016

“Welcome To The Universe” is an introductory text to astrophysics and cosmology for the undergraduate student who isn’t learning a science major, or for the well educated adult whose interest in astronomy has gotten further from the usual popular science books that steer clear of formulas and equations.

This book is about some of the ideas in astrophysics and cosmology that are necessary for getting a further understanding of the fields without taking a full mathematical astrophysics or cosmology course.

As such I think it really is perfect book for the intended reader – it doesn’t offend the reader by assuming that equations would go just over their heads, but it also doesn’t get too deeply into them to be of much use for an astronomy major.

The book is quite enjoyable, well illustrated and covers some fascinating topics for an introductory astronomy course. I wish everyone would read this book – you don’t get too much technical details, but just the bare essentials. If you want to find out more – find another book,but this will certainly whet your appetite.

The book has been written so, that you can tell who wrote which chapter, but despite having three authors in makes a complete, an fluid book – you might not even notice that there are three authors, except for when their achievements or work is mentioned specifically.

I got this book right at the beginning of a vacation and I hoped to finish reading it in two weeks, one of which I spent travelling. My book is quite a massive hardcover edition, but I was motivated enough to carry it with me for about three weeks. It was worth it – it was great travel reading in the sense that the beginning chapters are quite simple. However a few chapters in I did start to wonder whether there would even be any new for me information in the book. For a while there wasn’t any. Then there were tiny examples of what was to come – by the end of the book there were fascinating chapters that presented information that I hadn’t read before.

It’s a great book. My rating of 8/10 comes from me not being really one of the intended audience and that I got mildly bored at the beginning of the book (boredom went away by about the middle). It really deserves 10/10.

Book 181: The Pluto Files by Neil deGrasse Tyson

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The Pluto Files by Neil deGrasse Tyson

Finished reading on July 1st, 2015

Rating: 7/10

I picked this book up because of New Horizons approach to Pluto and because I’d want to understand the whole hullabaloo around Pluto’s status change.

The book was interesting, but if you take a side – pro planet Pluto or pro dwarf-planet Pluto, it’ll feel as if you’re in an argument here. And it just feels silly to me. I think it might have to do with me living in Eastern-Europe and Pluto being discovered by an American – my feelings can be put together into one word – “meh”. So reading this book was ok, you do find out more about the situation and the discovery of Pluto and who were supporting Pluto to stay a planet, but you don’t really find out much about Pluto as such (but we will in about a week, right?).

It would be interesting to know what some other people thought of this book or just the topic of planetary status – would you have liked Pluto to remain a planet? Does it even matter when scientists decide that one thing is something else?

Book 156: Origins by Neil DeGrasse Tyson and Donald Goldsmith

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Origins by Neil Degrasse Tyson and Donald Goldsmith

Finished reading on December 3rd, 2014

Rating: 9/10

“Origins” talks about the beginning of everything – from the Big Bang and how the Universe came to being to how galaxies and stars formed, how planets began and how might life have evolved – all that in about three hundred pages filled with rather easy and fascinating writing by Neil Degrasse Tyson and Donald Goldsmith.

The book is well set up and follows a certain logic going from cosmology all the way to astrobiology in the end introducing theories that try to explain how astronomical objects form and evolve and in some cases also inform us about we don’t know yet.

I thought the book went into great detail for example in case of stars and their evolution, not a lot of books would mention how the ages of stars can be determined, but “Origins” did and it did it well, which made me wonder why I hadn’t come across it in some other books before – maybe because it’s a specific method…

I’d really suggest reading it if you haven’t before – it doesn’t require a great understanding of mathematics, but there are a few mentions of Greek letters that might confuse the reader, although they’re explained in the book.

Well worth the time I spend reading it.

Book 37: Death By Black Hole by Neil DeGrasse Tyson

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Death by Black Hole by Neil Degrasse Tyson

Finished reading on March 14, 2013

Rating 8/10

I found all the essays in this book rather interesting, some more illuminating than others, but ultimately wonderful and well-written.

It hasn’t got any mathematics to drive people away and it’s in bite-size pieces so one can read one essay from the end, one in the middle etc. and you’d still understand what he’s writing about – mostly astronomy.

There are 42 chapters or essays in the book, and since they’re not really all that connected then it’s rather difficult to describe what they’re all about in all but the most general terms….

The essay I liked the best was about “the fear of numbers”. It’s about how some high buildings don’t have a 13th floor and go from 12 straight to 14, and how planes don’t seem to have a 13th row of seats… Well, that’s not really fear, it’s superstition, but I find it funny. (FYI May 13th is a Monday – Beware! Mwuahaha [evil laughter] :D) Though the fear of numbers is tragic.

Dr. Tysons style of writing is as cool as his talks, so enjoy this one: