The Seven Secrets of How to Think Like a Rocket Scientist / Edition 1

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This book translates "thinking like a rocket scientist" into every day thinking so it can be used by anyone. It’s short and snappy and written by a rocket scientist. The book illustrates the methods (the 7 secrets) with anecdotes, quotations and biographical sketches of famous scientists, personal stories and insights, and occasionally some space history. The author reveals that rocket science is just common sense applied to the extraordinarily uncommon environment of outer space and that rocket scientists are people, too. It is intended for "armchair" scientists, and for those interested in popular psychology, space history, and science fiction films.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
From the reviews:

"People of Earth . . . Attention!" Jim Longuski's book takes you on a journey of exploration to that nearly infinite space between the ears and behind the brows of that most mysterious of all creatures - the rocket scientist! Going well beyond the oft-used aphorisms, where no writer has gone before, he shows you how these gifted individuals think, feel, work, play, fantasize, rationalize, laugh and cry. From the glories of their epoch-making achievements to the tragedies of their magnificent failures, it is all here, told with insight, humor, objectivity and personal perspective. Without being preachy, lessons are offered that apply to anyone seeking to make professional or personal life just a little bit more successful and fun. I just couldn't set this book down!
Robert Cesarone, Rocket Scientist

It's really great!
Dr. Buzz Aldrin, Lunar Module Pilot, First Manned Landing on the Moon

This book offers helpful career and life advice with a unique twist. Professor Longuski's insights on how to 'think like a rocket scientist' are true gems, mined and polished over many years of experience in the aerospace field as a professor, researcher, and JPL mission designer.Here is a guide that will benefit engineers and nonengineers alike, infused with a sense of humor and relevancy that brings the subject matter to life.
Dr. Henry T. Yang, Professor and Chancellor, University of California, Santa Barbara

Targeted to a popular audience and written in an informal conversational manner. The author uses his vast experience in the U.S. space program together with his knowledge of 20th century science fiction films and popular literature. The book is easy to read. It traces the successes of the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo to the ability to really think like rocket scientists. Seven sections comprise the 'seven secrets.' Current problems related to the Space Shuttle and the International Space Station completion are caused by the failure to remember and practice these seven secrets. The book ends on a positive note that with recent changes in NASA the future outlook for returning to the Moon and the exploration of Mars is much brighter.
Dr. Peter M. Bainum, Distinguished Professor of Aerospace Engineering, Howard University, Washington, DC

Anyone who feels harried and stressed, or overwhelmed by workplace vexation will find this book a perfect way to relax and regain perspective in addition to learning something new and interesting.
The simple and sparkling writing style is a perfect compliment to the book's advice on being imaginative, playful, and active. The adorably whimsical illustrations are the perfect accompaniment to and reinforcement of this style.
Revisit your childhood passion for astronauts and learn about how to succeed in your adult endeavors
Amazon Customer Review

"Learned from the monumental challenges of space exploration, the book describes in ordinary language the methods that rocket scientists used to dream up ideas, figure things out, make decisions, and get stuff done – expressed in a way that you could apply to everyday life. ... Longuski illustrates the methods rocket scientists use with anecdotes, quotations, and biographical sketches of famous scientists, ideas from sci-fi, personal stories and insights, and occasionally a bit of space history." (, December, 2006)

"If I had been able to read this book much earlier I might have avoided some of my own difficult … experiences. This book will become required reading for all my space-science project students. I recommend it to all aspiring rocket scientists, current rocket scientists who feel the need too reinvigorate their working practices, and, indeed, to anyone who wishes to develop a new way of thinking … like a rocket scientist!" (Martin Barstow, The Observatory, Vol. 127 (1200), October, 2007)

"Longuski’s brief, chatty essay describes even aspects of sound thinking, labeled dreaming, judging, asking, checking, simplifying, optimizing, and doing. … The book is really a running conversation with a good storyteller … . it should be an enjoyable read. Summing Up: Recommended. General readers." (D. Bantz, CHOICE, Vol. 44 (11), July, 2007)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780387308760
  • Publisher: Springer New York
  • Publication date: 10/24/2006
  • Edition description: 2007
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 174
  • Product dimensions: 9.21 (w) x 6.14 (h) x 0.44 (d)

Meet the Author

After receiving his Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering from The University of Michigan in 1979, Jim Longuski (long-gus-ske) worked at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory as a Maneuver Analyst and as a Mission Designer. In 1988 he joined the faculty of the School of Aeronautics & Astronautics at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana where he teaches courses in dynamics, aerospace optimization, and spacecraft design. He is coinventor of a "Method for Velocity Precision Pointing in Spin-Stabilized Spacecraft or Rockets" and is an Associate Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA). Professor Longuski has published over one hundred and fifty conference and journal papers in the general area of astrodynamics including such topics as spacecraft dynamics and control, reentry theory, mission design, space trajectory optimization, and a new test of General Relativity. In 2004, AIAA published Professor Longuski’s first book, Advice to Rocket Scientists: A Career Survival Guide for Scientists and Engineers.

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Table of Contents

Dream.- Imagine It.- Work on the Big Picture.- Aim High.- BS!.- Brainstorm.- Create Desire.- Tell a Story.- Sleep on It.- Think JFK.- Judge.- Get Real.- Play Games.- Simulate It.- Run a Thought Experiment.- Know Your Limits.- Weigh Ideas.- Ask.- Ask Dumb Questions.- Ask Big Questions.- Ask “What If?”.- Ask: “Animal, Vegetable, or Mineral?”.- Ask Just One More Question.- Check.- Prove Yourself Wrong.- Inspect for Defects.- Have a Backup Plan.- Do a Sanity Test.- Check Your Arithmetic.- Know the Risks.- Question Your Assumptions.- Simplify.- Keep It Simple, Stupid.- Draw a Picture.- Make a Mock-up.- Name the Beasts.- Look at the Little Picture.- Do the Math.- Apply Occam’s Razor.- Optimize.- Minimize the Cost.- Minimize the Time.- Be Mr. Spock.- Make It Faster, Better, Cheaper (But Not All Three!).- Know When Bigger Is Better.- Let Form Follow Function.- Pick the Best People.- Make Small Improvements.- Do.- Learn by Doing.- Sharpen Your Axe.- Correct It on the Way.- Do Something.- Don’t Ignore Trends.- Work on Your Average Performance.- Look Behind You.- Learn from Your Mistakes.- Epilogue.

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