Book Review: Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil DeGrasse Tyson

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Before I say anything, I should perhaps mention that science has always been my absolute WORST subject. At least as far as the core subjects go. But, in the Marine Corps, the very first of the leadership principles is "Know yourself and seek self-improvement". So, when I saw Neil DeGrasse Tyson's Astrophysics for People in a Hurry, I knew it was something I needed to check out.

The next thing I should say about the book is that "for People in a Hurry" should by no means be interchangeable with "for Dummies". It was at times confusing, and at times difficult to follow. But as I mentioned before, perhaps it was just me being generally bad at science.

The Author

Neil DeGrasse Tyson has become a giant in the world of commercial science, perhaps only second to Bill Nye (the Science Guy! Bill! Bill! Bill!). In my opinion, this is largely due to two factors. First, he has a genuinely funny and relatable personality. He jokes about the devastation of Pluto losing its planetary status, and says things like "Consider a spherical cow...". Second, he stays grounded in reality. Despite his claims to the contrary in the final chapter, Tyson's mind is not entirely floating among the stars. He stays involved with current events and politics, particularly when it comes to things like global warming.

The Book

Despite my difficulty getting through the book, there are some definite gold nuggets hidden in each of the 12 chapters. For instance, did you know that in our solar system, everything other than the sun adds up to less than a fifth of the sun's mass? Because now I do, and it blows my mind. He also spends a full chapter each on dark matter and dark energy. I definitely though those were just things imagined by science fiction writers.

Even though I had a bit of a slow start with the book, I did actually enjoy it. I would highly recommend it, though not necessarily to the everyman. If you like science and space, or are thinking about diving into the subject, this is a fantastic place to start.