Death by Black Hole: And Other Cosmic Quandaries

( 78 )

Overview

Loyal readers of the monthly "Universe" essays in Natural History magazine have long recognized Neil deGrasse Tyson's talent for guiding them through the mysteries of the cosmos with stunning clarity and almost childlike enthusiasm. Here, Tyson compiles his favorite essays across a myriad of cosmic topics. The title essay introduces readers to the physics of black holes by explaining the gory details of what would happen to your body if you fell into one. "Holy Wars" examines the needless friction between science...
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Overview

Loyal readers of the monthly "Universe" essays in Natural History magazine have long recognized Neil deGrasse Tyson's talent for guiding them through the mysteries of the cosmos with stunning clarity and almost childlike enthusiasm. Here, Tyson compiles his favorite essays across a myriad of cosmic topics. The title essay introduces readers to the physics of black holes by explaining the gory details of what would happen to your body if you fell into one. "Holy Wars" examines the needless friction between science and religion in the context of historical conflicts. "The Search for Life in the Universe" explores astral life from the frontiers of astrobiology. And "Hollywood Nights" assails the movie industry's feeble efforts to get its night skies right.

Known for his ability to blend content, accessibility, and humor, Tyson is a natural teacher who simplifies some of the most complex concepts in astrophysics while simultaneously sharing his infectious excitement about our universe.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Each month in Natural History magazine, columnist Neil de Grasse Tyson takes a different slant on the universe. His topics range the cosmos; from jaunty putdowns of Hollywood "science" to learned speculation about a close encounter with a ravenous black hole. The author of Death by Black Hole is no mere poseur: He serves as an astrophysicist with the American Museum of Natural History and is the Director of New York City's famed Hayden Planetarium. This collection of essays cover the field; it even includes a fascinating critique of intelligent design.
Publishers Weekly
What would it feel like if your spaceship were to venture too close to the black hole lurking at the center of the Milky Way? According to astrophysicist Tyson, director of New York City's Hayden Planetarium, size does matter when it comes to black holes, although the chances of your surviving the encounter aren't good in any case. Tyson takes readers on an exciting journey from Earth's hot springs, where extremophiles flourish in hellish conditions, to the frozen, desolate stretches of the Oort Cloud and the universe's farthest reaches, in both space and time. Tyson doesn't restrict his musings to astrophysics, but wanders into related fields like relativity and particle physics, which he explains just as clearly as he does Lagrangian points, where we someday may park interplanetary filling stations. He tackles popular myths (is the sun yellow?) and takes movie directors most notably James Cameron to task for spectacular goofs. In the last section the author gives his take on the hot subject of intelligent design. Readers of Natural History magazine will be familiar with many of the 42 essays collected here, while newcomers will profit from Tyson's witty and entertaining description of being pulled apart atom by atom into a black hole, and other, closer-to-earth, and cheerier, topics. 9 illus. (Jan.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
This essay collection was originally published over 11 years in Natural History magazine. Professional astrophysicist Tyson (director, New York City's Hayden Planetarium) talks here mostly about the cosmos as seen by contemporary science, also touching on the history of science. He demonstrates a good feel for explaining science in an intelligible way to interested lay readers; his rather rakish sense of humor should aid in making the book enjoyable. The two concluding chapters address the relationship between science and religion (Tyson is forthright in arguing that "intelligent design" is not science). Because some of the essays concern overlapping topics, certain brief sections might seem repetitious for those reading the volume straight through, but this does not detract significantly from the overall value of the book. Recommended for public and undergraduate college libraries.-Jack W. Weigel, formerly with the Univ. of Michigan Lib., Ann Arbor Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A collection of the author's astronomy columns from Natural History. Astrophysicist Tyson (Origins, 2004, etc.), director of the American Museum of Natural History's Hayden Planetarium, groups his essays into several broad categories. The first, "The Nature of Knowledge," includes pieces on how science has grown because of extensions to our senses via instruments that collect data none of us could otherwise obtain; one essay shows what can be learned by measuring and making calculations from a stick poked into the ground. "The Knowledge of Nature" looks at basic astronomical facts: the planets, the asteroids, the points where gravity holds an object in orbit. "Ways and Means of Nature" discusses natural constants such as the speed of light and the surprisingly complicated question, "What color are the objects around the universe?" (Many published astronomical photographs show colors that correspond not to what an observer in space might see, but to phenomena the astronomer wishes to display graphically, such as the relative temperature of the objects portrayed.) "The Meaning of Life" addresses various conditions that seem to be necessary for life to evolve in a planetary system, including the "Goldilocks" question of the right temperature to allow liquid water on a planet's surface. "When the Universe Turns Bad" discusses cosmic disasters, notably the earth's being incinerated as the sun becomes (in several billion years) a red giant. "Science and Culture" looks at the sometimes uncomprehending reaction of the public to theories and discoveries; in Tyson's opinion, a wider knowledge of simple math might solve many of the most bizarre responses. Finally, "Science and God" touches on thoseareas where science and religion appear to compete for the same turf: notably, the origin of the universe, and whether it betrays evidence of design. Smoothly entertaining, full of fascinating tidbits and frequently humorous, these essays show Tyson as one of today's best popularizers of science.
Anthony Doerr - Boston Sunday Globe
“It's more imperative than ever that we find writers who can explain not only what we're discovering, but how we're discovering it. Neil deGrasse Tyson is one of those writers.”
Sky and Telescope
“Characteristically fun and jaunty.”
Wook Kim - Entertainment Weekly
“Tyson proves that no topic is too big or small for his scrutiny.... [He] tackles an impressive range of subjects... with great humor, humility, and—most important—humanity.”
Angela Gunn - USAToday.com
“Dr. Tyson has a grand time dissecting certain forms of foolishness. Get it, plan to savor it”
Roy E. Perry - The Tennessean
“Tyson comes across as having an excellent grasp of the current state of astrophysics, cosmology, chemistry and other scientific disciplines... he conveys knowledge clearly to the nonspecialist, often with ingratiating humor and wit.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393062243
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 1/22/2007
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 246,475
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.60 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Neil deGrasse Tyson
Neil deGrasse Tyson is an astrophysicist with the American Museum of Natural History, director of the world-famous Hayden Planetarium, a monthly columnist for Natural History, and an award-winning author. He has begun production of a new Cosmos series, premiering in early 2013. He lives in New York City.
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Table of Contents


Preface     11
Acknowledgments     13
Prologue: The Beginning of Science     15
The Nature of Knowledge: The challenges of knowing what is knowable in the universe
Coming to Our Senses     25
On Earth as in the Heavens     31
Seeing Isn't Believing     38
The Information Trap     48
Stick-in-the-Mud Science     60
The Knowledge of Nature: The challenges of discovering the contents of the cosmos
Journey from the Center of the Sun     69
Planet Parade     75
Vagabonds of the Solar System     85
The Five Points of Lagrange     95
Antimatter Matters     102
Ways and Means of Nature: How Nature presents herself to the inquiring mind
The Importance of Being Constant     111
Speed Limits     119
Going Ballistic     127
On Being Dense     135
Over the Rainbow     144
Cosmic Windows     152
Colors of the Cosmos     161
Cosmic Plasma     168
Fire and Ice     175
The Meaning of Life: The challenges and triumphs of knowing how we got here
Dust to Dust     185
Forged in the Stars     192
Send in the Clouds     199
Goldilocks and the Three Planets     207
Water, Water     213
Living Space     221
Life in the Universe     229
Our Radio Bubble     238
When the Universe Turns Bad: All the ways the cosmos wants to kill us
Chaos in the Solar System     249
Coming Attractions     254
Ends of the World     263
Galactic Engines     268
Knock 'Em Dead     275
Death by Black Hole     283
Science and Culture: The ruffled interface between cosmic discovery and the public's reaction to it
Things People Say     291
Fear of Numbers     298
On Being Baffled     303
Footprints in the Sands of Science     309
Let There Be Dark     320
Hollywood Nights     327
Science and God: When ways of knowing collide
In the Beginning     337
Holy Wars     346
The Perimeter of Ignorance     353
References     363
Name Index     369
Subject Index     373
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 78 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(50)

4 Star

(13)

3 Star

(9)

2 Star

(3)

1 Star

(3)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 79 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 20, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Brilliant book by a brilliant man.

    This book is very easy to read, even if you are not otherwise very interested in science. One of its stronger points is its accessibility to laypeople. If you've ever seen him speak on tv, then you know how capable he is of making everything he talks about incredibly interesting (even if it might otherwise come off as mundane by someone with even a little less enthusiasm). His writing style is no different, and his own love of science (and astrophysics in particular) is infectious.

    I learned a lot of really interesting things from this book, things of which I had been disappointingly ignorant of beforehand. Lagrange points, for instance, or how just how much you can determine about the universe by literally measure it with a stick in the mud. Were you interested in the universe, in astronomy when you were a little kid...did you grow out of it? This book will take you back to that early appreciation, and it'll never let go.

    9 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 13, 2011

    Fascinating

    Neil deGrasse Tyson's enthusiasm for the universe is really shown in this book. Filled with humor, Death by Black Hole takes complex subjects and exposes them to the reader in a way that is very easy to understand. I benifitted from reading this book twice to better understand some of the concepts. Enthralling!

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 18, 2011

    Oooo

    Ooooooo SCIENCY

    5 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 23, 2009

    Not For the Mentally Obtuse

    In writing "Death by Black Hole," Neil Degrasse Tyson has proven once again that he is an exceptional Astrophysicist. His mental dexterity related to matters of science and the universe are beyond reproach.

    Although I would recommend his writings and lectures for the general reader to the scholar, I would caution the mentally obtuse to refresh their understanding of general science so that they can fully appreciate the insightfulness of "Death by Black Hole."

    I would also recommend reviewing Dr. Tyson's presentation during his contribution to the Salk Institute for Biological Studies' scientific conversation titled "Beyond Belief: Science, Reason, Religion & Survival."

    For those also interested in esoteric teachings, "Death by Black Hole" informs us that stars come in 3 basic colors: red, white, and blue. Interestingly, these were also the 3 colors chosen for the flag of the United States. Part of the brillance of Dr. Tyson and his book is how he takes common knowledge and sprinkles it with scientific study to make a cerebral subject like astrophyics interesting.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 16, 2012

    INTERESTING

    A very interesting read. Well worth it!

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 30, 2011

    Well Worth Your Time

    I had to read about half of this book for school, and found myself reading way ahead and finishing the entire thing. Even if you knew nothing about science and the cosmos, you could understand this. Tysonexplains everything clearly amd in depth. Great buy!

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 15, 2014

    Amazing

    The best book ever

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 2, 2007

    degraassseee

    NOt only is Neil Tyson really funny and a good writer and smart..... he's also really good looking!

    2 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 2, 2014

    Interesting book, is like reading his TV show of the cosmos. Lov

    Interesting book, is like reading his TV show of the cosmos. Love it!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 15, 2012

    Damien the Tiefling

    I absolutely love this book and have recommended it to many of my friends. I bought it when it had come out i print, and can't think of any reason not to tell someone not to buy it for both a fun and informative read.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted November 20, 2011

    Better to watch his show than read him

    Having watched his documentaries on Discovery and PBS, I purchased this book. His off-the-wall examples in this book tend to confuse rather than clarify. In addition, he seems to wander off topic during the topic. I am a science educator and read many scientific journals and books. Can't recommend this one.

    1 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 3, 2010

    Finally!

    A great book for all that want to know about the cosmos without falling asleep.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 23, 2009

    A Great Read!

    Tyson takes the dryness out of the topic of the universe and makes the reader want to keep turning the page. I couldn't put this book down and is a great intro to a complex suject.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 16, 2007

    Great Audio Book

    Really liked everything about this audio book, but I wish there was a little pamphlet to go with it.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 11, 2007

    Informative

    As the title says this book was very informative. I liked the format it was presented in, which I can't really can't put in a category. Tyson did a good job explaining some basic, and some more advanced, topics.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 19, 2014

    The book is entertaining enough, but, as the Preface states, it

    The book is entertaining enough, but, as the Preface states, it is a collection of disparate essays, with minimal editing for flow. This has the effect of making the book somewhat repetitive, which could be tiring for readers who consume a large chunk of the book at once.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 27, 2014

    Black hole


    | |
    ——@——
    | |
    —|

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 10, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted August 1, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted March 24, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 79 Customer Reviews

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