ASTROPHYSICS FOR PEOPLE IN A HURRY

Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s Astrophysics for People in a Hurry is another excellent nonfiction book I’ve read recently. Though it’s short book, that certainly doesn’t mean it’s a quick read — I actually took notes throughout reading this, and would honestly recommend other readers to do the same!

“People who believe they are ignorant of nothing have neither looked for, nor stumbled upon, the boundary between what is known and unknown in the universe.”

This book is full of incredibly important and enlightening information about the nature of space and time, starting with the Big Bang. He walks us through dark matter, dark energy, galaxies, light, gravity…everything. But my favorite part of all of it was his final chapter, all about the cosmic perspective. All of this, combined with the cosmic perspective, had completely and utterly changed my worldview (or I guess, universe-view?) in a lot of ways — and for the better..

IN SHORT: Tyson writes in a straightforward, accessible way that makes all of this information much less daunting (at least, it became so for me) and I think it’s a wonderful foundation to begin building upon a knowledge of the universe. This is a must-read for anyone.

SOME COOL TAKEAWAYS

  1. The most debated moment in science is one TRILLIONTH of a second long.
    Yeah, you heard right. It’s the moment right before the Big Bang — and literally nobody has any idea what happened in this moment. Not a single clue. No known laws of physics currently can quite explain how the universe exploded out of absolutely nothing, even Einstein’s Theory of Relativity (read more about this here) and quantum physics fall short. Some religious folks might claim divine creation, but, as far is science is concerned, their guess is as good as ours.
  2. The term “dark matter” is used to identify not merely invisible matter, but rather, a type of matter or force yet to be discovered.
    There’s still a lot we’re figuring out, including this stuff called “dark matter.” Undetectable by modern technology, the existence of dark matter can only be inferred by its effects on detectable matter like planets, stars, gas clouds, and light. But, sounds like a cool premise for a science-fiction movie nonetheless.
  3. There are more stars in the universe than grains of sand on the beach, more stars than seconds have passed since Earth was formed, more stars than any word our sound ever uttered from any human that has ever existed on this planet.
    That’s a lot of stars.
  4. Jupiter has been saving our tiny little blue dot butt for millennia. And longer.
    One of the reasons our planet has enjoyed a relatively long and catastrophe-free lifespan is because of the massive gravitational pull of Jupiter. Essentially, Jupiter acts as Earth’s big brother, pulling huge asteroids away from our planet and taking the hit for us. If Jupiter wasn’t there, there’s a possibility that literally none of us would exist right now. Kinda crazy, right?
  5. We do not exist in the universe, the universe exists within us.
    This is part of Tyson’s “Cosmic Perspective.” Essentially, we’re small. Like, really really REALLY small: in space, in time, in almost every metric you could come up with, relative to the universe. But, this is not to say that we’re insignificant. Every last molecule and atom that makes up our bodies is traceable to the universe, is part of the universe — in every single way, the universe manifests in us, always, forever. We’re not significant or special because we are different, but because we are the same. We are all made of starstuff, every single one of us, and are living, breathing manifestations of a conscious universe. And that is pretty beautiful.

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