Astrophysics for People in a Hurry

It’s been a long time since I learned anything related to science. Other than a small handful of college courses, I haven’t studied the subject with any regularity or seriousness since high school. But despite the long absence, I’m still fascinated by science, and decided it was high time I revisited it. To ease me back into the science realm, I decided Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Astrophysics for People in a Hurry would be the perfect starting point. It’s a quick, entry-level book perfect for curious minds new to the subject and ready to learn.

Now, I will admit, this book did make me feel a teeny bit stupid. In a good way! It’s been so long since I learned anything so complicated and dissimilar from my other interests. Despite its accessibility, Astrophysics for People in a Hurry highlighted how out of shape I am when it comes to science. I haven’t exercised that part of my brain in a decade, but it’s never too late to start up again!

Way back when (that is, when I was a high school senior), I was top of my class in both Chemistry and Calculus. But I graduated high school 12 years ago, and I’ve barely touched either subject since. In college, I took exactly one math class and just two so-called “hard science” classes (astronomy and geography). Since then, I’ve engaged with little or no media on anything scientific. No wonder my brain had a hard time retaining what I learned in this book!

Astrophysics for People in a Hurry introduces readers (or listeners, if you, like me, opt for the audiobook) to a range of topics within the astrophysics umbrella. Neil deGrasse Tyson gives detailed but comprehensible overviews of the Big Bang, dark matter, the most important elements, exoplanets, and more. Each chapter explores a different subject, and Neil explains each in a way that anyone can understand (for the most part), with enough detail that it truly answers our deeper questions.

In my case, I listened to the audiobook, narrated by Neil himself. Neil deGrasse Tyson has an excellent voice for this – he could have made a career as a voice actor. He speaks clearly and calmly, but with enthusiasm and warmth. His voice is easy to listen to, and it really adds to the book. He gets an A+ for voice performance.

However, I am more of a visual learner; I learn better by reading rather than listening. At some point, I’ll definitely get the physical book and read it again, and maybe highlight certain parts for further studying. This is the kind of book that benefits from a few readings, allowing you to absorb a little bit more each time.

If you have any interest in astrophysics, definitely read (or listen to) Astrophysics for People in a Hurry. It’s a quick book with bite-sized takes on feast-sized subjects. It’s okay if you don’t really get it the first time around; I certainly didn’t. But if you’re open to rereading some parts or – even better – pursuing additional content on certain subjects, this will serve as an excellent introduction.

For me, I predict Astrophysics for People in a Hurry will be what launches me into continued science education. I’m glad to have warmed up my out-of-practice brain with this wonderful book, and I’m excited to read more books, watch videos, listen to podcasts, and even try out an online course or two on astrophysics. Thank you, Neil deGrasse Tyson, for reigniting my scientific curiosity and search for knowledge.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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