Tyson (The Pluto Files), Strauss, and Gott (Time Travel in Einstein’s Universe) reprise the introductory astronomy course they co-taught at Princeton, offering a crash course on the universe—no science background required. They start by laying out basic physical principles, filling each single-author chapter with simple analogies, great illustrations, and bits of personal flair. Reading through is akin to receiving a private museum tour from an expert scientist; the exhibits include Newton’s laws of motion, what will happen after our sun dies, how the space between stars is measured, quasars and black holes, time travel, why the “Big Bang model is far more than ‘just a theory,’ ” and the possibility of other life in the galaxy. The authors present challenging content in accessible prose as they lead readers from our solar system to the edge of the visible universe, getting into the how and the what of just about everything there is to know about the cosmos. Along the way they discuss such pioneering scientists as Nicolaus Copernicus, Albert Einstein, Stephen Hawking, Edwin Hubble, Henrietta Leavitt, and Isaac Newton. As Tyson, Strauss, and Gott explain the cutting-edge physics of multiverses, superstring theory, M-theory, and the benefits of colonizing space, even seasoned science readers will learn something new. (Oct.)
This review has been altered to correct a mistake in the title.