Letters from an Astrophysicist

Letters from an Astrophysicist The Natural Follow Up To The Phenomenal Bestseller Astrophysics For People In A HurryAstrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson Has Attracted One Of The World S Largest Online Followings With His Fascinating, Widely Accessible Insights Into Science And Our Universe Now, Tyson Invites Us To Go Behind The Scenes Of His Public Fame By Unveiling His Candid Correspondence With People Across The Globe Who Have Sought Him Out In Search Of Answers In This Hand Picked Collection Of One Hundred Letters, Tyson Draws Upon Cosmic Perspectives To Address A Vast Array Of Questions About Science, Faith, Philosophy, Life, And Of Course, Pluto His Succinct, Opinionated, Passionate, And Often Funny Responses Reflect His Popularity And Standing As A Leading EducatorTyson S Bestseller Astrophysics For People In A Hurry Offered Than One Million Readers An Insightful And Accessible Understanding Of The Universe Now, Revealing Tyson S Most Candid And Heartfelt Writing Yet, Letters From An Astrophysicist Introduces Us To A Newly Personal Dimension Of Tyson S Quest To Understand Our Place In The Cosmos

Neil deGrasse Tyson was born and raised in New York City where he was educated in the public schools clear through his graduation from the Bronx High School of Science Tyson went on to earn his BA in Physics from Harvard and his PhD in Astrophysics from Columbia.Tyson s professional research interests are broad, but include star formation, exploding stars, dwarf galaxies, and the stru

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  • Hardcover
  • 247 pages
  • Letters from an Astrophysicist
  • Neil deGrasse Tyson
  • 20 September 2019
  • 9781324003311

10 thoughts on “Letters from an Astrophysicist

  1. says:

    Yes, the universe wants to kill us But on the other hand, we all want to live So let s find a way together to deflect the asteroids, find the cure to the next lethal virus, mitigate hurricanes, tsunamis, volcanoes, etc This can only be enabled by the efforts of a scientifically and technologically literate public Therein lies a hope on Earth far greater than ever promised by the act of prayer or introspection It can be a bit of a challenge when talking about Neil deGrasse Tyson, deciding just where to start Overall, one would have to say that He is the public face of space, this side of fiction, anyway And speaking of fiction, he was cast in a recent Neal Stephenson novel, SevenEves, albeit with a nom du plume He has published 14 books, hosted several science focused TV series, including Cosmos, Star Talk, Origins, the Pluto Files and He is only the fifth ever head of the New York Planetarium, served on presidential science advisory councils, has been awarded NASA s highest non government employee award He is the teacher you wished you had for science, enthusiastic, knowledgeable, and encouraging, and with a wonderful sense of humor Neil deGrasse Tyson image from his site And if that is not enough, he is a remarkably charming guy, and a wonderful writer In a recent Late Show interview with Whoopi Goldberg at 7 21 of the clip , when Stephen Colbert asked her who her favorite ever guest was, she said Tyson, because he could talk for three hours straight, and they would all be wonderful, informative hours And if Whoopi loves spending time with the guy, really, who are we to argue How do you defend yourself when you have received a letter that proclaims you a pooh pooh head for your role in downgrading Pluto to dwarf planet status What can you say to people who challenge you on religion, God, philosophy, who see responsibility for the 9 11 assaults in celestial alignments This book consists of NDT s responses to about 75 letters he s received over the years, on a wide range of subjects He also writes about some personal feelings and events, like his relationship with his father, or ethereal considerations of nature And some are just for fun, like his selection of the most scientifically BS movies of all time, or a museum visitor picking up a display information error that had been there for a very long time, and which NDT had had a hand in approving Oopsy There are some very heart warming passages in which he encourages young learners He opens with a look at his early exposure to NASA, not as the inspiration it was for so many, but as consistent excluder of people like him He writes a birthday note to NASA, which was born the same month as he was you should know that among my colleagues, I am the rare few in my generation who became an astrophysicist in spite of your achievements in space rather than because of them For my inspiration, I instead turned to libraries, remaindered books on the cosmos from bookstores, my rooftop telescope and the Hayden Planetarium NASA moved forward in its employee selection with time, and Tyson would serve as an advisor to America s space agency He looks at extraordinary claims, the Cosmos, science denial, philosophy, matters of life and death, his experience with 9 11, religious faith, school issues, and parenting A chapter titled Rebuttals is reserved for special smackdowns Some chapters are potpourri than focused There is a fair bit of overlap among the chapters in subject material, but not enough to negate the structure of the book Some notions are repeated maybe a time or two too often, but that is a small blemish Tyson, above all, defends science as the way to understand the workings of the world and the universe And castigates those who would substitute scriptural revealed truths for the objective, testable approach science offers His correspondents include men, women, children, prisoners, celebrities, folks of diverse political stripes and religious persuasions He responds to scientists, teachers, athletes, and morons All with charm, knowledge, and wisdom The incoming letters are querulous, admiring, and sometimes hate filled Tyson offers some surprising observations on things like the value of IQ, the best books to read, and an actual diamond in the sky He remembers some people he admires There is occasional snark in his replies, but, IMHO, not nearly enough He offers a moving message to a fan who is about to lose a dying mother, and tells how Richard Holbrooke s interest in science informed his diplomatic work Like Whoopi says, listening to Neil for three hours is perfectly fine, and I expect you will find the time you spend with him in the pages of this book to be just as rewarding Not only is NDT great at what he does, which is working to educate Americans about science, he is very warm, human company, who is blessed with a gift for explaining science, and an ability to write that smooths that educational element even In that interview Stephen Colbert did with Whoopi, she notes that after spending time with Tyson, she remembered , of the science things he had been talking about, than she d expected Maybe you will too It most certainly won t hurt to try And you have any questions, you could always just send the guy a letter Review posted October 4, 2019Publication date October 8, 2019I received an ARC of this book from Norton in return for a review that would stand up to scientific scrutiny EXTRA STUFFLinks to the author s personal, Twitter and FB pagesIt would be redundant to add here the vast number of links one could use to connect with Tyson s various activities His primary site, at the Planetarium, offers those in abundance.

  2. says:

    Great companion for Astrophysics for People in a Hurry This book is a compilation of letters that the author received from strangers as well as letters he wrote to everyone and as opinion pieces The letters are filled with curious questions about science, complaints, and well meaning fans just wanting to know where the author stands in topics that the letter writers feel strongly about Advance reading copy provided by the publisher.

  3. says:

    This wonderful brief volume is an excellent follow up to his equally brief and equally potent, Astrophysics for People in a Hurry, in that you get a varied glimpse into the ebulliently enthusiastic workings of a great mind Here, the story is told through the dying art form of letters mostly, though of course there are some open letters and extended Facebook posts included in which NdGT talks with fans, to open audiences, to folks challenging his views, and to a wide swath of the public on many issues Given the wide range of topics covered, from a school principal s misguided notions of calculus class admission to the efficacy of studying physics for a police officer, this is somewhat scattershot type reading However, the cumulative effect of these vignettes is to illuminate a guiding principle that he has reinforced several times that what matters most from an education and development as a thinker is that, Knowing HOW to think empowers you far beyond those who only know what to think This is wonderfully lucid reading that I commend to all with a passing interest in any number of scientific fields.

  4. says:

    Dear NeilLetters from an Astrophysicist by Neil deGrasse Tyson held my interest and is one you should give a listen to It s uplifting, sometimes sad, and at times gives you something to ponder.What s it about It consists of letters or emails written to Neil with a question or comment pertaining to a certain subject, his response, and some of his life experiences breakdown below His answers occasionally contain data and at other times are his personal thoughts on the subject how to deal with bullying, he s agnostic, thoughts on Hollywood movies, etc You may get a chuckle, learn something, and potentially lose a little hope about people hope s a funny thing isn t it Neil It never ceases to amaze me how one person can inspire others or how frank kids can be.The reason I give it four stars all around I didn t find this was something I had to listen to, but did enjoy it overall Sometimes I wanted a little details on the response or the subject Also would have liked to have a little personal experiences mixed in The narration was good, my only gripe is the children voices Neil if you do another book similar to this, when a child has written a question, please get a child to voice the question Please.The breakdown Introduction a little about his backgroundPart One EthosChapter 1 Hope Coma, Fear, Losing My Religion, On Being Black, On IQ, 100 mph, If I Were PresidentChapter 2 Extraordinary Claims ET Phone Home, Aliens Aliens, UFO Sightings, A Glowing Pattern in the Sky, End of the World, Time s Up, Psychic Teleportation, Parallel Universe, Moons of Mars, Perpetual Motion, Dogon Predictions, Bigfoot, Sixth SenseChapter 3 Musings Complexity, Spirals, Roots, BC AD, Skies Over Iraq, Seeing Stars, Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, I d Rather Direct, Worst Ever, A Viral Blunder, Breaking Up is Easy to doSection Two The CosmosChapter 4 Hate Mail An Apology, An Appeal, Moon Lover, We Suck at Science, I m Not Paying, Feed Christians to the LionsChapter 5 Science Denial Middle School Skepticism, More Harm Than Good, Evolution vs Creationism, Qur anic Verses, Evidence for God, Where s the ProofChapter 6 Philosophy Alien Homicide, Truth or Meaning, How, Why, Yin Yang, I Think Therefore I Doubt, Express YourselfSection Three PathosChapter 7 Life and Death Remembering Holbrooke, Deadman Talking, Farewell, The Cosmic Perspective, Soul Searching, Hurricane Katrina, Curing Disease, Semper Fi This is my favorite chapter Chapter 8 Tragedy Neil s experiences thoughts during and after September 11, 2001 he lived blocks from The World Trade Center , Heavy Metal, Symbolism Myth and RitualChapter 9 To Believe or Not to Believe The Eye of God, Thinking for Yourself, God and the Afterlife, Seeing Eye to Eye, The Bible Tells Me So, A Piece of Pie, Buddhist, Open Mind, Proof, Meaning of LifeSection Four KairosChapter 10 School Days Space Cadet, Elementary Curiosity, Look but Don t Touch, To Know, Stigma, Not a Shadow of a Doubt, Gifted Students, AccuracyChapter 11 Parenting Doing Time, On Pretending, Starry Starry Night, Home School, Scary Smart, Half Black, Bible Stories, First Telescope, Happy 30th AnniversaryChapter 12 Rebuttals Making the Grade, B.o.B and the Flat Earth, A Horse s Ass to a Physicist, Don t Have a Cow, Keep Off deGrasse, Hollywood NightsEpilogue A Eulogy, of Sorts letter to his father Acknowledgments Some letters contain postscripts.Some of my favorite quotes from the book Hope is all you have when you realize your not entirely in control of outcomes but without it how else do we cope with the challenges of life Striving to do what is right without regard to who takes notice should be a model for us all Flying saucers don t need runway lights Any two people in the world have a common ancestor depending on how far back you look The line we draw to establish family lineage is entirely arbitrary When I wonder what I am capable of as a human being, I don t look to relatives, I look to all human beings Substance matters than labels We now live in a world where differences of opinion lead to fights rather than conversations The only thing to fear is loss of ambition Even when on the field, I m thinking about science A reality exists independent of our perception of it The headline we never see is psychic wins lottery again You can be awed by the complexities manifested in the world or you can instead be astonished at how simple it is If faith is a personal construct then there can be no agreed upon book of answers Active scientists do not run around declaring science can explain everything Life here on Earth is nothing than a phase At times, the challenges to success can seem endless I recommend if you are new to Neil or a long time follower Hopefully two things everyone can take away from this book are people with contrasting beliefs can be friends and it s OK to discuss these differences.Parental guidance trigger warnings brief mention of ancient civilizations rip heart out of virgins to appease the Gods, eat flesh of those you conquer to make you stronger , mention of Iraq soldier writing from Iraq , talk about killing an alien , religion he doesn t attempt to change anyone s beliefs it s questions people are asking , 9 11, Hurricane Katrina and Haiti talk, death cancer , Jail mention a couple letters are from people who are incarcerated , depression in a teen with ASD, tooth fairy how a child can find out test the truth , mention of a school shooting not a specific one , Hitler mention 1946 GI Olympics Language used n word x2, two words are bleeped out f word and ass , one time it is stated another county is kicking out ass.

  5. says:

    Rather than a formal review, I d like to share a few quotes and sections that stood out to me Since this is a nonfiction book, I do not consider this to be a spoiler, however, if you re wanting to read this book without any insight into its contents, refrain from reading further First, a recommended reading list As a bookworm, when someone I admire shares a recommended reading list, my nerd heart begins to pitter pat with giddiness Books that should be read by every intelligent person on the planet 1 The Bible, to learn that it s easier to be told by others what to think and believe than it is to think for yourself 2 The System of the World by Isaac Newton, to learn that the universe is a knowable place 3 On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin, to learn of our kinship with all other life on Earth 4 Gulliver s Travels by Jonathan Swift, to learn, among other satirical lessons, that most of the time humans are Yahoos 5 The Age of Reason by Thomas Paine, to learn how the power of rational thought is the primary source of freedom in the world 6 The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, to learn that capitalism is an economy of greed, a force of nature unto itself 7 The Art of War by Sun Tzu, to learn that the act of killing fellow humans can be raised to an art 8 The Prince by Machiavelli, to learn that people not in power will do all they can to acquire it, and people in power will do all they can to keep it On researching your ancestry When I wonder what I am capable of as a human being, I don t look to relatives, I looked to all human beings That is the genetic relationship that matters to me The genius of Isaac Newton, the courage of Joan of Arc and Gandhi, the athletic feats of Michael Jordan, the oratorical skills of Sir Winston Churchill, the compassion of Mother Theresa I look to the entire human race for inspiration for what I can be because I am human I don t care if I am a descendent of kings or paupers, saints or sinners, the brave or cowardly My life is what I make of it On educating children You asked what I teach my children My answer is I do not worry about what they know as much as I worry about how they think This just might be the highest of all pedagogical goals, because the most important moments in life occur at times when how we think will matter than what we know Teaching someone how to think is hard, and takes effort on the part of the teacher and student Among other things, it encourages them to ask questions It involves being comfortable with ignorance, if that happens to be our collective state of knowledge at the time It involves experiment and inquiry I highly recommend this and all books by Neil deGrasse Tyson I have some reading to do

  6. says:

    So my husband got this audiobook for a roadtrip this last weekend, and while I ve enjoyed his books before ASTROPHYSICS FOR PEOPLE IN A HURRY was a fave , this one was well it was condescending and insulting as hell in a lot of places, particularly directed at people who write to him grieving and talking about their possible supernatural experiences with their lost loved ones Like, I get it he very strongly disbelieves in anything psychic alien etc as a scientist, but there is no need to be a condescending dick toward people who are grieving Period End of story It just really left a bad taste in my mouth He really could have benefited from the if you can t say anything nice, don t say anything at all approach on than one occasion I mean, if he just could NOT be kind in the responses to these people, then just don t respond I don t know how that s a difficult concept Just yeah, very much a let down compared to his previous books and felt like a cash grab chance to show off how much smarter he is than the people writing him than an actual book worth reading And I say that as a fan of epistolary letter collections in general.

  7. says:

    There exist very less number of things in this world which are better at giving certain joy than few hours of Neil Degrasse Tyson talking about the things he cares for.The book is a collection of written correspondences mainly between Neil and his fans We live in an age where we rely on a bunch of smileys to communicate how we feel about things I occasionally write long form letters to my friends about things that matter to me Maybe that is why I was able to relate to this book I am really surprised by how many people preferred to write candidly and politely to him about things that matter Neils language is captivating But I am pretty sure I wouldn t have gotten far into the book if it weren t for his voice which was performing the book Some letters had me choking in tears people really love this man SPOILER Especially the letter from a Father who was serving his term in Jail And Neil has very convincing replies for each of his correspondents be it friends or critics.

  8. says:

    When I was in high school, I hated science class Then in college I took a mandatory biology class from a professor who made everything interesting because she explained things we wanted to know, like why to trees stand tall and how a little tide pool was a whole ecosystem The reason I like Neil deGrasse Tyson so much is that he explains the wonders of astrophysics in a way that I can understand at least mostly But I wasn t as fond of this book as I have been of his others The reason is that he answered so many questions that were religious or philosophical about issues that I either don t care about religion or that I ve already resolved how science helps us to think critically Because so many of the questions were repetitive, so were his answers I don t have his patience for dealing with flat earthers or folks who think that religious texts are the answers to all questions I like his writing much better when it expands my knowledge of the cosmos and my place in it In fact, I love to think of each of us as stardust.

  9. says:

    I enjoyed this one so much I found it equal parts amusing and inspiring, and got a lot out of it that I didn t expect to The 9 11 chapter I found especially moving, and I m not usually one to get emotional over the event The letters he enclosed that he wrote to various individuals were always insightful, and I particularly liked the line he delivered about berevity about halfway in Personally, I try to spend twice as much time to make things half as long I feel like that s applicable just about anywhere, as were many of the quotes I noted down in my reading journal for this book Highly recommend One of my new favorites.

  10. says:

    Neil deGrasse Tyson gathers a collection of letters he has received throughout his work as an astrophysicist and his responses to them Several are insightful, many have to do with the interaction between science and religion, but many are people thanking him.It would be Tyson to pen such a egocentric work, however I found it quite entertaining Some of his answers are clearly patronizing, like a lot of his Twitter content, but he is a brillant science communicator and I love to follow his work.

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