Cosmic Queries: StarTalk’s Guide to Who We Are, How We Got Here, and Where We’re Going

Neil DeGrasse Tyson with James Trefil. National Geographic, $30 (312p) ISBN 978-1-4262-2177-4
“In the gulf between the depths of human curiosity and the limits of human ignorance” is a space to ask questions, write astrophysicist Tyson (StarTalk) and physicist Trefil (Imagined Life) in this breezy survey of physics’s curiosities. The authors answer such matters as where the universe came from, how it will end, and whether intelligent life beyond Earth exists. In “How Old Is the Universe,” they cover a “simultaneously practical yet dull experiment” conducted in 1964, in which signals from deep space were picked up by a satellite and provided evidence for the Big Bang theory. In “How Will It End” they describe the eventual death of the sun through its transformation into a red giant “engulfing the orbits” of inner planets. Photographs, drawings, and scores of Tyson’s tweets pepper the pages, but less satisfying are the authors’ inconsistencies in their answers to the questions. While some explanations are simplistic (their discussion of biology, for example), others are tough to parse (as with their explanation of the “cosmological constant” from “an early version of part of Einstein’s general relativity” theory). Lay readers curious about the mysteries of the universe will want to take a look. (Mar.)
Reviewed on : 01/08/2021
Release date: 03/02/2021
Genre: Nonfiction
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