Astrophysics for People in a Hurry

By Neil deGrasse Tyson

130,109 ratings - 4.08* vote

What is the nature of space and time? How do we fit within the universe? How does the universe fit within us? There’s no better guide through these mind-expanding questions than acclaimed astrophysicist and best-selling author 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, wit What is the nature of space and time? How do we fit within the universe? How does the universe fit within us? There’s

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Book details

Hardcover, 208 pages
May 2nd 2017 by W. W. Norton Company
Original Title
Astrophysics for People in a Hurry
0393609391 (ISBN13: 9780393609394)
Edition Language

Community Reviews

Jessica Rodrigues

Imagine you are standing with your face up and your mouth wide open underneath a waterfall of Skittles.

At first, a few Skittles get into your mouth and you can taste them. Awesome, you think. I love Skittles.

Then, the Skittles become overwhelming, as more and more try to force themselves in, and millions and millions puddle around your feet, piling up past your knees.

That's kind of how this was.

I'm all about learning new things, but there were SO MANY FACTS IN SUCH A SMALL SPAN. By the time I hit page twenty, I realized I was mentally absent as my eyes and mind processed words but failed to commit those words to actual thought.

I wanted to love this book. I want you to love this book.

Alas, I just felt overwhelmed.

I recommend this book, but read it slowly and in small sittings. As a person in a hurry, I tried to plow through it all at once and became lost.

received via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Rick Riordan

Ah, yes. Nothing like an astrophysics book for beginners to remind me why I’m not an astrophysicist! Even at the basic level, with Tyson’s clear, funny and accessible writing, I found a lot of these concepts WAY over my head. Nevertheless, it is fascinating stuff. My big takeaway was humility: just how small humans are in the grand scheme of things, and there is something freeing about that. It reminded me of a fake headline on The Onion news satire site that made me chuckle: Obama Reassures Americans: ‘The future, and I’m talking three billion years from now, is still bright.”

The amount we don’t know about the universe is staggering. Dark matter, dark energy . . . how can we be completely unaware of forces that make up the bulk of our universe? But also, how amazing is it that we can find this stuff out from our little speck of a planet in the suburbs of Nowheresville, Milky Way Galaxy? This is a short book, perfect, as the title says, for people in a hurry. If you would like your mind exploded by science, and get a few chuckles out of the deal, check it out!

Miranda Reads

We are stardust brought to life, then empowered by the universe to figure itself out—and we have only just begun.
Neil deGrasse Tyson, within 224 pages, attempts to cover the entirety space and time.

He does a pretty good job.

However, this is not Astrophysics for Dummies. There are assumptions made for the audience - you do need a bit of a working knowledge on particles and space to fully understand the significance of the text.

That being said, I could still (mostly) follow along even in the areas where I knew little to nothing about.

This is somewhat similar to Bill Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything but with less emphasis on human accomplishments.

Like Bryson, Neil deGrasse Tyson provides great analogies when he explains the creation (and subsequent formation) of the universe. If we combine both books, it feels like we get a Short History of Everything.

However...he does waste page space needling his audience about religion, which I could've definitely done without in such a compact book. (It felt rather distasteful).

I really liked how Tyson could break down complex topics.
Matter tells space how to curve; space tells matter how to move.
And how he was able to inject humor in such dry matter.
The power and beauty of physical laws is that they apply everywhere, whether or not you choose to believe in them.
I would like a sequel called Astrophysics for People with Time on their Hands - just to see what else is out there!
The universe is under no obligation to make sense to you.
Audiobook Comments
Read by the author - and was a joy to listen to!

YouTube | Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | Snapchat @miranda_reads

Always Pouting

I think it's pretty self explanatory what this book is about so no need to summarize. I have to say though that I'm generally not a fan of Neil deGrasse Tyson, because a lot of times he'll just indulge the actual stupid things other people say. Like the whole "debate" about whether or not we're living in a simulation after Elon Musk made that comment. Every time this happens I can't find any actually science news in my newsfeeds because now suddenly everyone is only talking about that one dumb thing. I guess that's not really Neil's fault but I never claimed to be rational. Regardless of my general feelings of irritation whenever I see Neil deGrasse Tyson talking about pop science things I think this books was pretty awesome. It's definitely a short read that manages to be accessible and comprehensive. The only thing I didn't like was the closing chapter, mostly because I'm belligerent and bitter and when people try to be hopeful or just thoughtful the way he was being 99% of the time I'm like god please don't. Still would recommend the book to anyone who wants to learn more about space and doesn't know where to start.


Just spend a half a day with this book, time you spend, reading or listening won't be wasted.
From the big bang 14 billion years ago, to today. Milky way was formed 9 billion years ago, how it was named? How the planes and asteroids was named? How we fit in the universe, or the universe within us? Kuiper belt and Pluto, and wonder are we all Martians.


"The Universe is under no obligation to make sense to you."
- Neil deGrasse Tyson


"People who believe they are ignorant of nothing have neither looked for, nor stumbled upon, the boundary between what is known and unknown in the universe."
- Neil deGrasse Tyson, Astrophysics for People in a Hurry

Physicists are a unique breed. Most people exist in a sphere that is directly impacted by the work of physicists, but only possess a minimal knowledge of some basic Newtonian physics. But even with this gap of knowledge, a few physicists rise to the level of rockstars. Albert Einstein is arguably one of the most recognizable figures of the 20th century. Newton may be one of the most important, and influential, men to have ever lived and exists both in myth and history as a figure almost as important as the founders of major religions (Jesus, Moses, Muhammed). The group of physicists that came to age during the nuclear age also achieved a near rockstar-level reputation and noteriety (Oppenheimer, Fermi, Feynman, etc).

In our modern age, a physicist needs to be at one level a genius at math and high-level physics, but also needs to be a great communicator. Neil deGrasse Tyson is almost as much a translator of physics as an astrophysicist in his own right. He bridges that gigantic gulf between the bleeding edge of science and the average person's attention span (not an easy task). He has a talent for understanding his subject, but also getting his audience. He is funny, cheeky, and cognecent that the average reader isn't going to read a 500+ page book on physics (no matter how interesting). So Tyson distills, refines, and delivers just a glimps of what is happening and has happened in the Universe during the last 13.8 Billion years. He does this just as easily in a 140 character tweet as he does in a 208 page book. Some academics are geared toward research and some are geared toward education. Dr. Tyson = Education^3


Neil deGrasse Tyson has the gift of helping non-geniuses get a slight clue on what those geniuses are talking about. Slight.

Don't even think you can sit down and read this baby in a night. It is definitely a read-a-chapter/think-for-a-bit kind of book. I read a chapter after each fiction book I was reading, and then I would talk about it with my genius son who somehow understands all this stuff. I homeschooled the kid. How does he know so much more than I do? I think he might have been cheating on me!! He was out learning shit on the side! Little bastard!

Anyway, like all geniuses, Neil deGrasse Tyson can only dumb stuff down so much, so there are quite a bit of mathmatical and scientific terms in the book that he assumes we can understand. Those geniuses don't get just how dumb we are. See? I know something he doesn't. People are morons. Myself included.

Damn! Because pictures really would have helped.

Still, I really enjoyed getting less dumberer from reading this. I'm going to read more by NDT and hopefully find something my son doesn't know and rub it in his smug little face. Ha! That'll teach him!


I borrowed this book through kindle unlimited. It is an excellent astrophysics book for the layperson.However, it is chock full of scientific information about the universe, electrons, neutrinos, etcetera.A solid 4 stars.


Astrophysics is a complex subject. Even years of study barely scratches at the understanding of the universe. Nevertheless, Neil deGrasse Tyson has an amazing ability to make the cosmos fun and understandable. Filled with wonderful ideas -- galaxies devouring dwarf galaxies, massive radio telescopes, a fun run through the periodic table of elements, comets, a study of time --so much is packed into just over 200 pages! Tyson can make the heavy subject engaging, and the strange and ominous fantastically enthralling.

I just wish he would leave his political and social agenda out of his scientific presentation. I loved the facts he is an expert with, but I could do without the politics and social theory about which, in my opinion, he has no special knowledge to share. Let's just focus on the matter and energy, please! Tyson is brilliant, but some things in this world are truly subjective.

That said, if you don’t mind the author’s platitudes, “Astrophysics for People in a Hurry” is a wonder. It helps you understand a bit of the immensity of space in which we reside, and the extraordinary discoveries we have made in the course of trying to make sense of it all. All the more amazing since some of these discoveries took place over 300 years ago. For some, this may not be the best gateway book if you’re trying to have a better grasp on Astrophysics, but I think this is a lovely addendum for folks that have watched Tyson’s "Cosmos" TV series.


I believe, and I'm sure many of you agree, that every book has its time. This one's been sitting on my bookshelf since I pre-ordered it. I'm glad I didn't get to it because where better to look than up right now to be uplifted and inspired. Just in our little Milky Way, there are at least a hundred billion suns, probably hundreds of billions and just as many planets with their moons. Planet Earth is just a tiny, insignificant part of a single solar system in a single galaxy. In our universe there are trillions of galaxies and this universe may be a small part of a multiverse. Knowing this doesn't make one's problems go away or the world's, but it's a beautiful direction in which to point your mind.

It's entirely possible all of us are made from material that originated on Mars. Neil says he stopped counting moons in our solar system at seventy-nine. As I write it's known that there are at least two hundred moons, and asteroids and comets and a certainty that there are more living things than the ones on Earth. it's humbling, he says. It's also intensely fascinating.

Reading this book reminded me of things I'd forgotten and taught me a lot of new things. It had me wrestling with chemistry and physics which generally go over my head -- but it had me wrestling. He never lost me and I never gave up trying to understand parts that were hard for me to comprehend. As he showed in the two seasons of Seth MacFarlane's "Cosmos," Neil is the one you want as your guide to the basics of astronomy which among all the sciences has the most to discover. How exciting! Reading this been an educational, enchanting and uplifting experience.

Yesterday a paper was published detailing the discovery of an unprecedented collision of two massive black holes -- which happened 1.3 billion years ago. We are just seeing the light from that collision now. Better and different sorts of telescopes are being developed, other ways to make discoveries involving math and physics and chemistry and -- so much being learned now, in our time, and in our future. How exciting! Thanks to Neil's gift for writing and explaining, his patience and his wit, "Astrophysics for People in a Hurry" is full of wonders and it's wonderful.