Astrophysics for People in a Hurry, Neil deGrasse Tyson, author
The book is very readable, but perhaps not very comprehensible. As the author attempts to explain the entirety of the astrophysical world, it made one thing very clear to me. I was not up to the task. He begins his book citing the earliest scientists and the earliest theories, and he pronounces them as the only sure things, the only provable reality. It may be so, but as the pages turned, I realized another reality, most of his information was going right over my head into the astrophysical world he was describing. Like air and water, hopefully, the information would someday be recycled and retrieved in the same way he explains that water and air return.
Although it is written in short chapters, with easy to read sentences, and most of the theories presented have stood the test of time, like those of Albert Einstein and Issac Newton, and the inventions of Hubble and Kepler which are still front and center in scientific circles, too many years have passed between the present and the past in which I was privy to the study of astronomy, chemistry, biology and physics. I was never a scholar in those fields, but rather was more of a voyeur. So, while I may remember certain terms like comets, asteroids, bacteria, electrons, atoms, neutrinos, and ions, I sure don’t have fluency in the science of pulsars or quarks, nor did I ever hear of panspermia before. While I remember loving learning about the periodic chart, I did not remember most of the elements he introduced. I remember the more common ones like carbon, hydrogen, sodium and helium, among others, even remembering their chemical symbols, but I never heard of thorium, technetium or gallium.
My summation of the book is that while it was not a chore to read, it really is meant for someone who wants to get a bird’s eye view of the subject, someone who simply wants to review what he once knew well. This book is not a crash course, it is the “after the course” review.
The book is written with so much humor that I was encouraged to continue reading, even as I realized I was a lost cause. The astrophysics I was learning could fit into a thimble with the millions of other molecules residing there joining me!