Author : Neil DeGrasse Tyson
Year of Publication : 2017
Publisher : W. W. Norton & Company
Like most young boys, all I wanted to be was a mechanical engineer like my dad. So I pursued this course till my first year undergrad. I recall that my biggest challenge then was physics. It just did not make sense to me at that level. Hence, when I decided last week to read any book of unfamiliar genre, I thought a book that includes my worst subject in the world would fit perfectly. Well, I was not wrong. Every page in this book called me stupid in as many ways as there are stars in the universe. I was wrong about something though. Astrophysics is not entirely an endeavor that required the knowledge of physics. In fact, one can argue that chemistry is more prominent in this field of study that any other subject area. Now that I think of it, I was a poor chemistry student as well. Let’s just say I was a shitty science student.
One of the early statements that stuck in my mind was “The Universe is not obliged to make sense to Us”. Somehow this sentence reminds me of a bit by the late great George Carlin.
Astrophysics for People in a hurry is written to educate and entertain the ordinary man. Neil DeGrasse Tyson communicates the contents in this book simply enough for a curious mind and he draws a sequential thread through every chapter. It is easy to follow through and grasp. And why not? In the words of Einstein ” if you can’t explain it to a 6-year-old, then you don’t understand it yourself”.
“We are stardust brought to life that is empowered by the universe to figure itself out. And we’ve only just begun”
Lessons from Astrophysics for People in a Hurry
Humans are dope if you think about it. From finding cures to pandemic and epidemic diseases to innovations that we have come to get accustomed to. Astrophysics for People in a Hurry continues to make that point about the ungodly explorations we homo-sapiens have, are and will continue to make in our bid to understand our role in the universe. I don’t know about you but I believe there isn’t a better time to be alive than now.
There are barely any truly unique astronomical phenomenons in the universe. Neil DeGrasse Tyson makes this point by letting us know the earth we live in is not astronomically unique. It is just one of the numerous planets orbiting the sun. The sun itself is not unique, the uncountable star that exist in our cosmos are suns themselves. Then, there is the fact that our presumption of a singular galaxy (ours) is not true. There are other galaxies.
“How” and “Why” play very important roles in astrophysics. According to Tyson, the cosmic perspective is humble. Humble enough to answer these two questions before putting forward theories.
The last and perhaps the most important lesson from this book is noted in the last chapters. Astrophysics is an ego check. Reading this book would remind you of how minute you are in/to the universe. Having said that, the book also emphasizes human kinship with life before and after homo-sapiens.
In conclusion, read this book. Especially if you are intellectually curious about our universe and your place in it. It summarizes and simplifies complex astrophysics concepts. Neil DeGrasse Tyson writes this book in his characteristic humor and trust me, it helps. Having said that, please do not take a mouth breathing moron like my self’s summary of this book as gospel. Pick a copy and find out for yourself.Cheers