Books, General

Astrophysics for People in a Hurry | Review

Title: Astrophysics for People in a Hurry

Author: Neil deGrasse Tyson

Rating: 4 Stars

Dates read: 28 Mar 19 – 01 Apr 19

Publication date: 02 May 2017

Publisher: W. W. Norton and Company

Genre(s): Non-Fiction, Science

Description:

There’s no better guide through mind-expanding questions such as what the nature of space and time is, how we fit within the universe, and how the universe fits within us than Neil deGrasse Tyson.

But today, few of us have time to contemplate the cosmos. So Tyson brings the universe down to Earth succinctly and clearly, with sparkling wit, in digestible chapters consumable any time and anywhere in the busy day. Astrophysics for People in a Hurry reveals just what you need to be fluent and ready for the next cosmic headlines: from the Big Bang to black holes, from quarks to quantum mechanics and from the search for planets to the search for life in the universe.

Intelligence is an underrated commodity, so when I get the opportunity to learn, I try and jump on it. I am fascinated by physics, especially astrophysics, and after attending a lecture/show by Brian Cox in Feburary, I was determined to open my mind and expand my knowledge on the subject within my intellectual parameters. I stumbled across Neil deGrasse Tyson’s short, conscise book Astrophysics for People in a Hurry and had to buy it. It didn’t disappoint.

Narrated by Tyson himself, the audiobook was like sitting in a captivating series of lectures. Each subject area within astrophysics/essay within the written book was narrated with enthusiasm and a higher level of understandng that meant each subject was delivered with a non-patronising level of simplicity that a Leyman could appreciate and enjoy.

I like physics, I mean, really like it. I took elements of physics in my first year of university, and have enjoyed studying science throughout school and beyond. deGrasse Tyson explores some of the big questions about the universe with simplicity and really opens your mind to how incredible the scientific achievements and predictions of past scientists actually were and how influential and useful they still are. Many of us know names like Newton and equations such as E=mc2 but actually hearing how they changed science and how they actually equate to scientific principles and discoveries was amazing.

I think my only issue, if you can call it that, was comparing this to Brian Cox. Whether it’s the fact he’s British, or quite amusing, or I had seen him live not long before listening to this, but I feel like Tyson does things in the wrong order for understanding. Cox eases you in, he always talks science with proper terminology, but he starts small and adds, and adds, and adds, until you realise that you have pyramid of knowledge and he has been building to the point at the top that is the topic of discussion. Tyson appears to explain everything but not necessarily in such a coherent order and I couldn’t help but wandering how many people would have become more lost than I did, or if I would have rated it 5* if the order had been slightly more logical.

It is what it says it is, it’s a short book of concise and constructed sections that is digestible in chunks or in one go. It’s a great introduction to more complex physics principles, or how scientific principles are utilised in theory and in action. deGrasse Tyson is a gifted orator that tells a story through science, and this is a book for all amateur scientist, astronomers, teachers, and those who want to expand their minds.

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