Astrophysics for People in a Hurry
© 2017 Neil deGrasse Tyson
Astrophysics for People in a Hurry is exactly what it says on the tin, a brief cosmological primer that presents the basics of cosmology, explains the ways we are continuing to learn about the cosmos, and ends with a Saganesque hush meditating on what the cosmic perspective has to offer. Neil deGrasse Tyson is an active science popularizer, the creator and primary host for StarTalk Radio, which has grown beyond a podcast to become a video series and book – not to mention his day job as director of the Hayden Planetarium in New York City.
Astrophysics is a review of what is known about the big picture, and avoids string theory, m-theory, branes, and other things best considered by people not in a hurry. Tyson does include a section on dark matter and dark energy, however, since the math of our current model of universal expansion doesn’t make sense without including them . Tyson is quick to defend against the idea that ‘dark matter’ – accounting for the detected weight of matter which doesn’t seem to interact with anything – as a math cheat, since the weight of something is there…we just haven’t figured out what it is just yet. Along the way, Tyson also comments on topics like why the cosmos tends to produce spheres (planets, suns, clusters of galaxies…), the history of radio telescopes, and the supreme importance of the period table.
As someone whose most recent interaction with astrophysics has been The Big Bang Theory, since I haven’t read anything in this area in four years, I found Tyson completely enjoyable.