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Space Chronicles: Facing the Ultimate Frontier

Space Chronicles: Facing the Ultimate Frontier

4.3 32
by Neil deGrasse Tyson

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“A compelling appeal, at just the right time, for continuing to look up.”—Air & Space

America’s space program is at a turning point. After decades of global primacy, NASA has ended the space-shuttle program, cutting off its access to space. No astronauts will be launched in an American craft, from American soil, until the


“A compelling appeal, at just the right time, for continuing to look up.”—Air & Space

America’s space program is at a turning point. After decades of global primacy, NASA has ended the space-shuttle program, cutting off its access to space. No astronauts will be launched in an American craft, from American soil, until the 2020s, and NASA may soon find itself eclipsed by other countries’ space programs.

With his signature wit and thought-provoking insights, Neil deGrasse Tyson—one of our foremost thinkers on all things space—illuminates the past, present, and future of space exploration and brilliantly reminds us why NASA matters now as much as ever. As Tyson reveals, exploring the space frontier can profoundly enrich many aspects of our daily lives, from education systems and the economy to national security and morale. For America to maintain its status as a global leader and a technological innovator, he explains, we must regain our enthusiasm and curiosity about what lies beyond our world.

Provocative, humorous, and wonderfully readable, Space Chronicles represents the best of Tyson’s recent commentary, including a must-read prologue on NASA and partisan politics. Reflecting on topics that range from scientific literacy to space-travel missteps, Tyson gives us an urgent, clear-eyed, and ultimately inspiring vision for the future.

Editorial Reviews

In these cash-strapped times, America's space program seemed like a superfluous expense. Although NASA accounts for just half of one percent of federal spending, congressional leaders made it an early casualty of the 2008 recession. In this lively, even humorous book, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson makes perhaps the most persuasive case yet for reactivating our space travel efforts. His argument is multifaceted; he contends for instance that NASA science cross-pollinates research that benefits our entire economy. Entertaining advocacy. (P.S. The author's communication skills probably benefit from his daytime job as the director of New York's famed Hayden Planetarium.)

Vicki Powers

“A genial advocate for the space program, Tyson offers diagnoses of its malaise that will resonate with its supporters.”
Dava Sobel
“There is much to enjoy here, and nothing too arcane for a non–space cadet to follow.”
Library Journal
This collection highlights Tyson's (director, Hayden Planetarium; The Pluto Files: The Rise and Fall of America's Favorite Planet) writings from 1986 to 2011, including Natural History magazine's "Universe" columns, interviews, articles, tweets, and even a poem. Organized in parts—"Why," "How," and "Why Not"—the book covers the history, politics, science, and wonder of space exploration. It opens with a new essay lamenting the increasing lag in U.S. space exploration and closes with informative tables on a number of other countries' space budgets. Even at the height of spending in 1966, the United States spent less than one percent of gross domestic product on space. Tyson is an articulate popularizer of astrophysics, and many will recognize him from TV shows like NOVA and The Universe. His writing style, while necessarily a bit technical, is as engaging as his screen presence. VERDICT Young adult and adult readers, those interested in science and space exploration, and those opposed to or confused by the race to space will all be stimulated by this readable text. [See Prepub Alert, 8/15/11.]—Sara Tompson, Univ. of Southern California Libs., Los Angeles
Kirkus Reviews
Astrophysicist Tyson, the director of Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History, delivers a forceful, cumulative argument for space exploration even in the face of a disastrous economy. In this collection of articles and talks, the author investigates what space travel means to us as a species and, more specifically, what NASA means to America. Deploying an energetic tone, scattershot with clever twists and peculiar, entertaining factoids, Tyson handles the species half of the equation from the comic angle. That perspective is inclusive and humbling, open and encouraging of wonder, and the author finds in Earth a precious mote in the vastness, allowing readers to transcend the primal and celebrate great scientific laws to appreciate our place in the universe. It also helps us get past the jingoistic aspects of space exploration, for if NASA--the other half of Tyson's concern--is driven by anything, it is military politics. "When science does advance, when discovery does unfold, when life on Earth does improve," he writes, "they happen as an auxiliary benefit and not as a primary goal of NASA's geopolitical mission statement." But those auxiliary benefits are the critical, serendipitous fallout of the space program: GPS, cordless power tools, ear thermometers, household water filters, long-distance telecommunication devices, smoke detectors and much more. You can't script the benefits; you have to have faith in the cross-pollinating splendors of science, and Tyson finds little evidence for this in the current Congress. If Tyson handles both the rarified and scientific justifications of continued space funding with aplomb, his economic reasoning falls short. One half a penny of each tax dollar sounds scant, but that leaves only 199 like-sized programs for the entire government. An enthusiastic, persuasive case to start probing outer space again.

Product Details

Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
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Barnes & Noble
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2 MB

Meet the Author

Neil deGrasse Tyson iis an astrophysicist with the American Museum of Natural History, director of its world-famous Hayden Planetarium, host of the hit radio and TV show StarTalk, and an award-winning author. He lives in New York City.

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Space Chronicles: Facing the Ultimate Frontier 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 30 reviews.
FrancescaNYC More than 1 year ago
I first read essays by Neil deGrasse Tyson when I subscribed to Natural History magazine. As someone with no academic background in the sciences I was enthralled to read articles by an astrophysicist that I could actually comprehend. Every piece in his Universe series was spectacular and thought provoking. I strongly recommend his 2007 book, Death by Black Hole and Other Cosmic Quandaries, a collection of essays he wrote for the magazine during the period from 1995 to 2007. His sheer brilliance combined with an elegant simplicity of writing and his trademark sense of humor take the reader on a fascinating excursion into galaxies, black holes and The Big Bang. Tyson¿s latest book Space Chronicles: Facing the Ultimate Frontier also does not disappoint. This collection, beautifully edited by Avis Lang, focuses on the ¿Why,¿ ¿How,¿ and ¿Why Not,¿ of space exploration covering fifteen years of essays, articles, speeches, and interviews plus 53 ¿Space Tweets¿ cleverly interspersed throughout the book. Tyson, who is also the director of the Hayden Planetarium at the Museum of Natural History in NYC, is an articulate and passionate advocate of investment in space research and exploration. He effectively counters complaints, heard even from those in the progressive community, that too much money is spent on NASA¿s budget. One urgent example: our ability to track the path of Apophis, the killer asteroid coming in our direction that could pass within a narrow range of altitudes called ¿the keyhole¿ in 2029? Should that happen, Earth¿s gravity will cause Apophis to slam into our planet in 2036 creating a tsunami that would be catastrophic for the west coast of North America, Hawaii, and the islands of the Pacific Rim. Perhaps saving our planet from global extinction might be reason enough for the naysayers to re-think their position on NASA funding (which by the way is much less than most people think). Sadly though, scientific literacy has been on the decline. Tyson points out that a recent survey found that one in five adults in the U.S. believes that the Sun revolves around the earth and that only 20 to 25% of the population can be considered scientifically literate. This might explain why some politicians feel comfortable disavowing the theory of evolution or ignoring the scientific data about climate change. By contrast, it¿s invigorating to read a book that reminds us of the successes (and failures) of the space program and underscores the way in which the accomplishments of NASA in the 1960s and 1970s inspired a generation to aspire to study science and aim for the stars. In the epilogue, Tyson lays out his ¿cosmic perspective¿ ¿ and it is truly breathtaking to read. Don¿t miss it!!!
jecko More than 1 year ago
A stimulating and entertaining read for the lay person. Neil gives us a cosmic perspective on our existence and persuasively argues for the importance of dreaming big, something we did during the Apollo days. He talks about NASA budgets, and peoples misconceptions about how much money is being spent on space exploration. This book is quite easy to read if you're not academic, and Neils passion and exuberance comes out well in his essays, I was captivated the whole time. Its true that some of his arguments get repeated as someone mentioned, but this overlap is to be expected as this book is just a collection of Neil's essays. Overall I highly recommend this book for people who have an enthusiasm for space exploration, but more than that, a passion for dreaming big and excelling forward.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very informative, easy-to-read, and extremely interesting
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I will buy anything Neil Tyson writes as he does a brilliant job conveying science to a layman. I was disappointed in this book however due to the constant repetition of his single argument (albeit valid).
GeekRead More than 1 year ago
Neil deGrasse Tyson skillfully and plainly brings the world of high science to an everyday level. He makes an easy and fun read. A most for anyone interested in space or NASA.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Tyson repeats the same arguments over and over in different ways. While there are some interesting anecdotes, the bulk of the book is in the 10 minute interview.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Cosmos and Neil are both amazing. This book is also a wonder thank you for the read Neil! Also stop posting random stupid ugly cat stuff nobody loves you Any ways great space book i totally recemend
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Randy54 More than 1 year ago
I enjoy science for the average person, and was looking forward to reading Mr. Tyson's latest. I was disappointed in his choice to run the same arguments over and over for NASA funding, which I believe in, and his theme that w/o NASA science will die in this country. This completely ignores all the other science going on, not that I expected him to cover them in this book. I just expected more from Mr. Tyson.
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Bought this for my son, a Neil deGrasse Tyson fan, as a gift. He was thrilled.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Actually, while I did enjoy it, it was the typical NdeGT stuff, that I've heard much of before, tho of course still interesting. Fun to read, as one could almost hear him talking.