Thursday, June 10, 2010

Death by Black Hole and Other Cosmic Quandaries by Neil deGrasse Tyson

If the fact that our sun will probably burn out in 4 billion years and our beloved Earth will turn into a huge ball of black rock because of it (until it's vaporized that is) bothers you, keeps you up in the night, this book might not be for you. If you're worried about an asteroid hitting somewhere between Hawaii and California in 2039 and Idaho becoming ocean front property (hmm, maybe an improvement?), then this book might not be for you. If you're worried about what might happen to you if you inadvertently get a little, tinsy bit too close to a black hole of death (even your atoms get pulled apart), I might not read this book.

Because, if you thought your ulcer was healing and you could eat salsa with your chips. Think again! A collection of essays about a myriad of cosmic topics from Natural History magazine written by astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson (you've probably seen him on PBS, and no he's not the night sky guy with the weird voice), this book entertains. Frightens. Enlightens! And inevitably makes you feel much, much smarter for reading it. But believe me, sometimes this knowledge is a scary, scary thing! In fact, now I'd like to take some of it back. Oh, brain atrophy!

Except for a few about half way through that made my eyes start to glaze over, I found most of these essays really interesting and readable. Tyson is obviously one of those well known science professionals who is actually interested in, and good at, teaching (believe it or not!) instead of just doing research and publishing. So yes, they do exist..

Way, oh way back in the dark ages when I was in college I took a series of physics classes from an astronaut named Don Lind. He was a cocky ass who said stuff like, if you ever get a chance to fly in space.. . I wanted to slap him...anyway, I remember learning about prisms and color and how our brain interprets it, and thinking that was the coolest thing! I remember telling my twelve year old sister about it, about how a prism works and why we are able to see that myriad of colors without moving our eyes (look it up, it's really cool!). She looked at me like I was a martian from outer space who'd just landed and interrupted an episode of Get Smart, and made fun of me for years because of it.

Well, neiner neiner. Now I feel vindicated.
Sort of..
Crap, she's probably still making fun of me.
Oh well..
4 stars


Stephanie said...

I think this book is a good remedy for mommy brain. You know, something to mull over instead of (or at least in addition to) bodily fluids, bickering and, "Crap, what am I going to make for dinner?!?" Even if Tyson does seem inordinately obsessed with being vaporized.

Nerds of the world, unite!

Anonymous said...

An asteroid's hitting California in 2039? I'm moving to Idaho!

Lula O said...

Science nerds rock!
And maybe yes, if when it passes the first time it gets caught in some gravitational keyhole whatever and moves slightly closer, then when it passes seven years later it will hit inbetween Hawaii and CA somewhere in the ocean.
And yes, I almost peed my pants when I read that! Wear depends if you read this book!

Mandy said...

Yes, I'm still making fun of you. :) I take every chance to mock you as I can.

Lula O said...

I confirm that. It's true. But don't pity me and my prism ways.

Lula O said...

Ooooo, I just met someone yesterday who works at the Museum of Natural History in NY City, and she knows Tyson. Says he's as crazy as he looks. Cool!!