“However, every advance in our knowledge of the cosmos has revealed that we live on a cosmic speck of dust, orbiting a mediocre star in the far suburbs of a common sort of galaxy, among a hundred billion galaxies in the universe. The news of our cosmic unimportance triggers impressive defense mechanisms in the human psyche.”
A short personal note: Forget hot actors and actresses, singers, models. If I had the chance to meet a famous person I'd totally go for Neil deGrasse Tyson. Or Michio Kaku, but preferably Tyson.
Astrophysics has always been a passion of mine, even before my love for literature so this book felt like a trip to my 8-year-old self who walked around with books on astronomy and suffered from severe sleep deprivation because she prefered to watch the stars and the moon rather than sleep. I was a strange child, I realise that, antisocial except when given the chance to talk about the nightsky, that's when I came alive.
This book covers an enormous period of time, fourteen billion years, and even provides some interesting thoughts concerning the future of our planet and galaxy. The theme of the book is clear, it deals with the origin of the universe, the various types of galaxies, the formation of the clusters, all the types of stars, the origin of the planets and life in general. It concerns itself with vague topics like dark matter and dark energy and black holes, all the mysteries of the universe, all that is still theory and will maybe remain a theory forever.
It provides answers or at least suggests possible answer to hundreds of questions one might ask him/herself about how everything turned out the way it did.
Despite the difficulty of the entire topic, it is an understandable, even fun read due to Tyson's unique sense of humour. The chapters that are less humorous are still highly enjoyable for the reason that both authors are talented when it comes to writing. Every single chapter is very well-written, elaborate and provides just enough explanations to intrigue but not confuse.
I repeat, the book is not as intricate as the majority of the books that concern themselves with astrophysics, which is a great think because it is more likely that people who are generally curious pick such a book up rather than a highly scientific monster with formulas and one technical term after another. Let's be honest, people who aren't deeply "into" that topic will never understand a highly scientific beast, but they will easy get this one.
And I think it is a good thing for it encourages people to think outside the box, to question and doubt and look for more.
“... informed ignorance provides the natural state of mind for research scientists at the ever-shifting frontiers of knowledge. People who believe themselves ignorant of nothing have neither looked for, nor stumbled upon, the boundary between what is known and unknown in the cosmos.”
What I also appreciated was the fact that in every chapter scientists who are usually overlooked were mentioned, their theories who led other scientists to question and doubt and in the end find answers where they had never expected them to. I loved how the development of the various theories, experiments, simulations was dealt with and how one scientist's thought was based on another one's and so on and so forth back to Newton.
Thus, this book provides not only an insight into the past of the universe but into the human discoveries and mentions all the important personas in this field of studies.
I hope I will find enough free-time to read Tyson's book Death by Black Hole
soon though it seems unlikely with all the required reading for university...
“In the beginning, there was physics.”