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Customer Review

65 of 77 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Inspirational Plea for Space Exploration and Discovery!, February 19, 2012
This review is from: Space Chronicles: Facing the Ultimate Frontier (Hardcover)
Space Chronicles: Facing The Ultimate Frontier by Neil deGrasse Tyson

"Space Chronicles" is the inspirational plea of why NASA matters to America and what space exploration means to our species. Renowned astrophysicist, Neil deGrasse Tyson dissects the politics of space and also enlightens the reader of the sense of awe that comes from space exploration and discovery. This book selections represent commentary, interviews, thought-provoking quotes reflecting a spectrum of fascinating topics from one of our icons of science. I share the love and awe of science that radiates from Mr. Tyson; this book arouses such emotions in witty, lucid fashion while stressing the importance of America retaining its global leadership in space.

This 384-page book is composed of thirty-six chapters and broken it in three Parts: Part I. Why, Part II. How, and Part III. Why Not. The first part of the book (Why) has to do with why we want to explore space. It appeals to emotions and wonder and the politics involved. The second part of the book (How), is of more practical science. The last third of the book (Why Not) wraps everything together and is the most passionate.

1. A passionate, engaging prose that reflects the love of science of Dr. Tyson.
2. Fascinating topic in the hands of an icon of astrophysics.
3. Witty and humorous tone.
4. Profound without being unintelligible. An accessible book for the masses.
5. The politics involved. The author stresses the need to eliminate partisan politics.
6. Sixty-seven space tweets interspersed throughout the book. A clever way of injecting topical space wisdom.
7. The allure of space evidence by the most popular museum of the world, the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.
8. Dr. Tyson is a thinker and educator and uses his prodigious knowledge and skill to enlighten the masses like few scientists can. He makes use of popular science and movies to convey concepts: The Movie Contact to illustrate how radio waves attempt to make "contact".
9. The author's view on fascinating topics like extraterrestrial life and some really interesting views from Stephen Hawking.
10. The reality of killer asteroids and the justification to pursue space. Chart that illustrates impact on Earth.
11. Is China the new Sputnik? And our we losing our scientific edge? Find out...
12. NASA and Dr. Tyson share a birthday. Diverging paths that ultimately converged. Some insights into the interesting life of Mr. Tyson and kudos.
13. The history of NASA, the great Apollo ere and the next fifty years in space.
14. Tidbits of knowledge throughout the book! Love that...there is so much that the universe wants to tell us that doesn't reach Earth's surface. I will not spoil it...
15. The three drivers to justify spending large quantities of state wealth. Find out...a recurring theme. Find out what really drove America to space travel.
16. Find out why the Super Collider budget was canceled.
17. A brief but fascinating account of space discovery. Find out the most important single discovery in astrophysics.
18. The turning point in human understanding of our place in the cosmos.
19. The future of discovery.
20. The greatest achievement of flight is...
21. The great Isaac Newton .
22. The solution to the many-body problem of the solar system.
23. The understanding of the achievements of the Soviets. Many firsts...
24. Facts and fictions of space travel. The greatest challenge to human exploration besides money is...
25. Astronauts...the super models of space travel.
26. The many new technologies that resulted from space travel. An interesting list...
27. The Hubble Space Telescope...the most productive scientific instrument of all kind. The discoveries associated with it.
28. Apollo 11 and the great late Walter Cronkite.
29. Dr. Tyson's absolute admiration for the Saturn V design that launched Apollo astronauts.
30. Very interesting look at the future of propulsion for deep space. Topics include the use of the sun (solar sails) and the difficulty with an anti-matter drive.
31. The points of Lagrange.
32. Star Trek lovers rejoice...Mr. Tyson adds a couple of interesting tidbits.
33. The future of US space travel and the challenges. Money is a recurring theme...the actual cost of NASA.
34. Wisdom, "A review of history's most ambitious projects demonstrates that only defense, the lure of economic return, and the praise of power can garner large fractions of a nation's gross domestic product".
35. One of my favorite chapters, "America and the Emergent Space Powers".
36. One of my favorite quotes, "the greatest conflicts in the world are not between religion and science;they're between religion and religion".
37. How some religious forces have quenched scientific endeavors. Great stuff.
38. The delusions of space enthusiasts.
39. Witty and humorous...projectile dysfunction. Let me leave it at that.
40. By using numbers, Dr. Tyson really puts in perspective how tiny we are...mesmerizing. "More bacteria live and work in one centimeter of my colon than the number of people who have ever existed in the world".
41. Pioneer and point, why science is awesome and the quest to know drives us.
42. The best justification for why we need to spend money on space travel.
43. Practical appendices and charts.

1. The book tends to be repetitive. A lot of the stories and interviews overlap so some concepts and thoughts are repeated.
2. It is not an in depth look at the science of astrophysics. It is more about educating the public of why it's important to funds NASA appropriately. So those looking for an in depth look at the science of astrophysics will surely be disappointed.
3. This book is a plea to fund NASA. Politics is involved but the author treats the topic with utmost respect and care. He is clearly appreciated and respected by both parties as evidenced by being appointed by both parties to important position. That being said, he does make it clear that he is left of liberal.
4. No bibliography or extended notes of references. I would have been interested in reading some recommendations.
5. No colorful illustrations of space, so this is not a coffee-table book.
6. Having to wait for the author's next book and/or Cosmos series!

In summary, I loved this book. It spoke to my love and passion for knowledge and the value to our culture of new voyages. No one makes a better case for the need of space exploration and the drive of discovery than Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson. Space travel is not just an emotional frontier, it is the frontier of all sciences. That being said, some readers may be disappointed that the book focuses more on the the emotional appeal to fund NASA than the hardcore science. That aside, if you want to rekindle your love for space exploration and discovery by all means read this highly recommended book!

Further recommendations: "Death by Black Hole: And Other Cosmic Quandaries" by the same author, "The Quantum Universe: (And Why Anything That Can Happen, Does)" by Brian Cox, "About Time: Cosmology and Culture at the Twilight of the Big Bang" by Adam Frank, "International Space Station: A Brief History (Enhanced Version)" by Vook, "Death from the Skies!: These Are the Ways the World Will End . . ." and "Bad Astronomy: Misconceptions and Misuses Revealed, from Astrology to the Moon Landing "Hoax"" by Philip Plait, "The The Grand Design" by Stephen Hawking, "A Universe from Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather than Nothing" by Lawrence Krauss, "The Fabric of the Cosmos: Space, Time, and the Texture of Reality" by Brian Greene, and "A More Perfect Heaven: How Copernicus Revolutionized the Cosmos" by Dava Sobel.
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Showing 1-6 of 6 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Feb 21, 2012 7:41:32 AM PST
Scott says:
Great review! Especially the recommendations. I visit Phil Plait's blog but I've never read his books. Which of his three books is your favorite or that you would recommend for me to start with?

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 21, 2012 11:42:39 AM PST
Book Shark says:
Thanks Scott. My favorite three:

1. A Universe from Nothing (masterfully done).
2. Death from the Skies (pure entertainment) (Death by Black Hole is also great)
3. About Time is very interesting and provides perspectives that go against the consensus.

For the record, I'm currently reading "A More Perfect Heaven..." but I've read enough of it to recommend it.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 21, 2012 11:51:14 AM PST
Scott says:
Thanks a lot. I actually got A Universe from Nothing last month so I'll probably check that out soon. I finished Death by Black Hole a few weeks ago so after that I'll try Death from the Skies. I appreciate it.

Posted on Feb 27, 2012 9:53:32 AM PST
In your review, you referred to Neil Degrasse Tyson at least a half dozen times as Mr. Tyson. I'm quite sure he has earned the title Dr. Tyson

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 3, 2012 10:59:05 AM PST
Book Shark says:
Jack you are absolutely right and I made the changes. Thanks for pointing that out.

Posted on Mar 7, 2013 11:28:25 AM PST
Eric says:
Thanks for the recommendations! I've read two books on this list so far and I'd be willing to bet the rest are going to be on my wishlist soon.
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