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Nov 24, Dan Schwent rated it really liked it Shelves: books , Astrophysics for People in a Hurry is a very readable account of the creation of the universe and how the universe works, as related by Neil deGrasse Tyson. Since the first movie I saw in the theater was a rerelease of Star Wars sometime in the early 80s, space has always given me a sense of wonder.

Astronomical Objects That Are Only Visible From Southern Hemisphere

Astrophysics for People in a Hurry is an easily digestible summation of the universe, from the b Astrophysics for People in a Hurry is a very readable account of the creation of the universe and how the universe works, as related by Neil deGrasse Tyson. Astrophysics for People in a Hurry is an easily digestible summation of the universe, from the big bang to the present. Neil deGrasse Tyson breaks down the universe into manageable chunks, from leptons to galaxies. He does a good job with theoretical concepts like dark matter and dark energy, pulsars, quasars, and other flashing bits.

Since I've watched many of his appearances, it was easy to hear his voice in my head. There's a fair amount of humor but not enough to distract from all the sciencing going on. Seriously, it's a pop science book about the universe. How much else can I say? If you already know a lot about astrophysics, it's probably not the book for you. However, if all you know about the formation of the universe is dimly remembered things from grade school, you'll probably enjoy it.

Since most of my recent scientific knowlege comes from Doctor Who episodes, I enjoyed it quite a bit. Four out of five stars. View all 5 comments. May 21, Trish rated it really liked it. This book, as its author, is difficult to rate. I am always happy to see "normal" people like me interested in sciences instead of not caring or just accepting what they are told instead of questioning and discovering for themselves.

Naturally, we can't all be scientists of the first grade, having deep knowledge of every aspect of the natural world or technology or whatever. However, curiosity only killed the proverbial cat - in reality, it's vital and good. Many people feel clubbed to death, h This book, as its author, is difficult to rate. Many people feel clubbed to death, however, when you start conversations about black holes and the theory of relativity, which is not too hard to understand.

It's the problem with many teachers, professors, and other lecturers: they lack the charisma to hold people's attention. What is more, if you can't explain something in layman's terms, don't bother. NDT is one of those rare people, who do not only know what they are talking about more about that further down , but also have a very unique way of HOW he explains phenomena.

Some people even call him a rock star of science. And that is where the problems begin. I, as you probably have guessed, disagree. Yes, compromises have to be made when explaining highly complex matters like the beginning of the universe as much as we know about it at least to people without any science degree. Nevertheless, the easy way is not always the right way yes, I just quoted Dumbledore in a review about a science book but I think NDT would approve.

As long as people are interested and learn, we - as a society - can only gain from that. Many discoveries have not necessarily been made by people who already had big names or held titles in their respective fields. And even if it only serves to make someone infect their children with a natural thirst for knowledge, it's worth it when I look around day after day, I see enough people who enjoy sticking their heads in the sand because it's easier to let others do the work for them.

Admittedly, even I very interested in all sciences and reading a lot about different fields only know half-truths because some things are too difficult to understand by simply reading about them. But knowing half is better than not knowing at all. Especially since it results in me constantly wanting to learn more. He knows what he's talking about. The fact that he's a funny guy who can break down the most complex things into an interesting narrative is an added bonus!

This book then is his introduction to the topic of astrophysics. In my opinion, even young teenagers can read it. Make no mistake, it's not even scratching the surface, but only tickling it. However and this is vitally important , it does so in a way that makes you get hundreds of books of secondary literature and really start digging into the respective topics discussed in the 12 chapters of this book. And THAT is how you catch 'em and reel them in! Really, it's a stroke of genius if you think about it.

He knows he's charismatic and he knows that people like listening to him because he makes them laugh in an intelligent way. Just look at this photo from the cover: Yep, playing the rock star card.

Almost Everyone's Guide to Science

But so what?! He's playing to his strengths and we're all benefitting from it! I've seen a few interviews with him, my favourite being when he dismantles someone who verbally attacks him idiot about GMOs. Sometimes it takes a rock star to make you care about the sincere topics. My interests always veer towards understanding people and the world around me, less than wondering about our beginnings or the scope of the cosmos. As much as I want to learn, all the theoreticals tend to bore me.

But, this book does a really great job of presenting the material from a grounded, real-world approach. Tyson uses funny anecdotes m 3. Tyson uses funny anecdotes my favorite is the one about whipped cream and gravity to help explain these strange, difficult concepts, and it's overall very well done. Plus that chapter on Dark Matter? Spooky and all types of interesting. At the end of the day, I can't rate this any-higher, because I still zoned out more often than I want to admit.

But, I was less confused than I thought I'd be, and more interested than I thought I'd be, so that's something? Jun 01, Sean Gibson rated it really liked it. Do you need to have some basic grounding in physics to understand and appreciate it? If you have some basic grounding in physics, will you still be totally overwhelmed and perplexed by some of the ideas it presents?

But, Tyson has a gift for making the impossibly complex digestible, and this brief overview of some of the most fascinating topics in astrophysics not dissimilar, though slightly more reader friendly, than Rovelli's Seven Brief Lessons on Physics is not only enlightening and entertaining, it also provides ample food for thought and a much-needed reason to reflect on things that transcend the day-to-day insanity we call life these days.

Highly recommended for people who want a better grasp of a fascinating scientific arena and who want to sound smart in second soundbites at parties though be warned that follow-up questions will leave you doing the verbal equivalent of fumbling with a pizza box. What a fun science book! I have always been a science nut and had to get this book!


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The library was backed up so I know I wasn't the only one. I truly love the way he teaches the reader science on the reader's level without talking down to us. So many fun, witty remarks that stick the info in your head helps. He makes science fun! No wonder the kids these days know him, besides the fact he 'killed Pluto'. Wonderful book and I learned and laughed.

Aug 04, Carol Bookaria rated it liked it Shelves: , non-fiction. I had different expectations about this book, and the problem is likely me and not the book. The book explains astrophysics, or what we know to date about this subject from the beginning the Big Bang to today and also the possible future.

Everything is explained theoretically and clarified as that. I love reading about science facts and that's what I expected but the subject is astrophysics which is defined as: "the branch of astronomy concerned with the physical nature of stars and other celes I had different expectations about this book, and the problem is likely me and not the book. I love reading about science facts and that's what I expected but the subject is astrophysics which is defined as: "the branch of astronomy concerned with the physical nature of stars and other celestial bodies, and the application of the laws and theories of physics to the interpretation of astronomical observations.

However, the definition of astrophysics was clarified while reading this book. Neil deGrasse Tyson does an excellent job of explaining these complex ideas and putting it in simple, understandable terms. A lot of the concepts went over my head and require abstract thinking from the part of the reader. I listened to the audiobook which is narrated by Neil deGrasse Tyson, he did a wonderful job at that. Overall I liked it but did not love it. I recommend it to all those interested in the cosmos, astrophysics, dark matter and other theoretical subjects.

Review posted on blog. His tweets are poignant, interesting and funny. View all 7 comments. May 11, Ivan rated it it was amazing Shelves: non-fiction. Short and sweet introduction to astrophysics. Science was bit basic for me as I posses some knowledge of the subject but it's perfect gift for my nephew who has shown interest and keeps asking me to explain this stuff to him.

Neil deGrasse Tyson is great with words and simple explanations of complicated things. His writing style is fun and even funny at times and makes all of this sound incredibly cool. That in combination with very short length makes this book perfect if you are trying to set c Short and sweet introduction to astrophysics. That in combination with very short length makes this book perfect if you are trying to set child onto the righteous path of nerd or trying to convert an adult.

Also I plan to get it as hardcopy for my nephew but I listened to audiobook version and Tyson's narration is just marvelous. Nov 16, Jenny Reading Envy rated it really liked it Shelves: read , science , audiobook , hoopla. I know that Neil deGrasse Tyson has been the new poster child of capital-S Science in the last few years, but I have lived in blissful ignorance. I didn't watch Cosmos, for instance. But I like astrophysics, the parts I can grasp, and have an admiration for people who can grasp the science and math and concepts enough to push our understanding forward.

This is a short book, and I will recommend the audio read by the author. He is very passionate and exuberant about his topics, and it still came a I know that Neil deGrasse Tyson has been the new poster child of capital-S Science in the last few years, but I have lived in blissful ignorance. He is very passionate and exuberant about his topics, and it still came across a bit sped up which I felt it needed. The different chapters are sometimes previous essays, compiled into this layman's overview of astrophysics - intentionally short, concepts boiled down to the core of where our understanding started, what we know now, and what we do not know.

It's clear that the one thing we really have gained understanding of is all that we do not know! I was least thrilled by the periodical table chapter, but I get it, the elements are not unique to earth, and that can be used as evidence for some things, mostly things I'm not super interested in the debate on. But I loved his cosmic perspective and where humanity fits as much as I loved his visual description of what the galaxies looked like in the past, and his questions about the things that we can never know we don't know because they are gone.

This is the best science book I've read all year, and possibly also the only science book I will have read this year. Resistance is futile! Look, most of this went WAY the eff over my head, not ashamed to admit. But, it was Neil deGrasse Tyson reading the foreign language of astrophysics, so I'm positive something got through. Osmosis or something. I listen to his podcast, StarTalk sometimes, and that one is a bit easier to follow. Okay, a lot easier. What did I take away? Oh, who am I kidding?

I can't remember anything I listened to. Four stars! View all 4 comments. Feb 05, Michelle rated it liked it Shelves: nonfiction. Astrophysics is a complex subject. Even years of study barely scratches at the understanding of the universe. Nevertheless, Neil deGrasse Tyson has an amazing ability to make the cosmos fun and understandable. Filled with wonderful ideas -- galaxies devouring dwarf galaxies, massive radio telescopes, a fun run through the periodic table of elements, comets, a study of time --so much is packed into just over pages!

Tyson can make the heavy subject engaging, and the strange and ominous fantast Astrophysics is a complex subject.


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  • Tyson can make the heavy subject engaging, and the strange and ominous fantastically enthralling. I just wish he would leave his political and social agenda out of his scientific presentation. I loved the facts he is an expert with, but I could do without the politics and social theory about which, in my opinion, he has no special knowledge to share. Let's just focus on the matter and energy, please! Tyson is brilliant, but some things in this world are truly subjective. It helps you understand a bit of the immensity of space in which we reside, and the extraordinary discoveries we have made in the course of trying to make sense of it all.

    All the more amazing since some of these discoveries took place over years ago. Sep 24, Barbara rated it liked it. I'll just touch on some topics in the book I found interesting By then, the forces we're familiar with had formed: gravity, the weak nuclear force, the strong nuclear force, and the electromagnetic force. At the same time, a large array of particles had appeared, including photons, electrons, neutrinos, quarks, and more Scientists estimate that there are about billion galaxies, each containing hundreds of billions of stars.

    Debris around some stars merged to form planets, and Earth formed in a 'Goldilocks' zone where oceans remain liquid Tyson notes, "The power and beauty of physical laws is that they apply everywhere, whether or not you choose to believe in them. But whipped cream has low density, and floats. So Tyson gave the waiter two options: "Either someone forgot to add whipped cream or the universal laws of physics are different in this restaurant.

    It's the remnant of something that was once enormously bright, but now requires special instruments to observe. It has gravity and interacts with light.

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    However, this ordinary stuff makes up only 15 percent of the universe. A full 85 percent of the cosmos is made of a mysterious substance called 'dark matter', which has gravity but doesn't interact with light. As if dark matter isn't sufficiently enigmatic, the universe also contains a large amount of 'dark energy. As a result, anything not gravitationally connected to the Milky Way Galaxy where we live will rush away at an ever increasing speed.

    So galaxies that are now visible to our telescopes will eventually disappear from view. Tyson notes, "In a trillion years, anyone alive in the Milky Way may know nothing of other galaxies, and will see nothing but a dark, endless void. More traditional heads prevailed, and planet was named Uranus. The Voyager spacecraft, launched in , carries a plaque that shows our solar system, our location in the Milky Way Galaxy, and the structure of hydrogen and the atom.

    It also carries a gold record album that has whale sounds, and music from Beethoven, Chuck Berry, and others. Tyson mentions that his favorite parody of this 'gift' is an old skit on Saturday Night Live, in which we receive a written reply from the aliens that asks "Send more Chuck Berry. On the slight downside - since the book is based on a series of essays - it's a little repetitive. And there's a section on elements that veers off the topic of astrophysics.

    I'd highly recommend this 'astrophysics light' book to non-specialists interested in the subject. If you're a physicist, you presumably know all this already. In this life I've studied tons of biology and geology. In my next life I'd like to be an astrophysicist who solves the mystery of dark matter and dark energy. Oct 24, Cyndi rated it really liked it. Actually, if you're in a hurry to understand astrophysics, might want give that pipe dream up. Although this book is a brilliant and well written group of essays by one of the greatest minds of our time, it is not a quick read.

    I'll grant ya that it's not a huge tome, but the amount of info on every page is amazing. I often had to put it down and let just a few lines sink in. If you truly want to grasp even just the edges of astrophysics you won't read this book in a hurry. You will take the t Actually, if you're in a hurry to understand astrophysics, might want give that pipe dream up.

    You will take the time to savor every sentence. Jun 17, Riku Sayuj rated it really liked it Shelves: pop-science , science-physics , cosmology. Neil deGrasse Tyson is cool. No question. He doesn't pack much into this short book, but whatever he does talk about is always cool. Even too cool sometimes. Sagan used to awe us with this stuff, but deGrasse Tyson makes it easy to feel like a nerd, by oversimplifying concepts and letting some of his smooth arrogance pass onto the reader.

    But, there are always enough nuggets to keep your true inner nerd interested: Like when he explains how Quarks have fractional charges that come in thirds, and Neil deGrasse Tyson is cool. But, there are always enough nuggets to keep your true inner nerd interested: Like when he explains how Quarks have fractional charges that come in thirds, and that the force that keeps two or more of them together actually grows stronger the more you separate them Wow, right? And the whole discussion on dark energy and dark matter is the coolest bit, because Tyson is at his best in dealing with still unexplored bits of the subject.

    All in all, Tyson's geeky, aloof, arrogant voice remains consistent through this book as well - and those of us who derive pleasure from a likeable know-it-all like Tyson talking down to know-nothings, will enjoy every bit of it. Especially, when the arrogance arising from the backing of science and its capabilities are laced with just the right dose of Sagan-like, pale-blue-dot-like humility about how the arrow of knowledge always gives us humans a smaller and smaller role in the universe.

    Jan 19, Leonard Gaya rated it really liked it. Neil deGrasse Tyson is one of the most remarkable scientists of our time, having devoted a large part of his work to popularise his field of study, astrophysics, sometimes one of the most counterintuitive sciences of all. It covers a wide field nonetheless: from the Big Bang to black holes and multiverses, to the chemistr Neil deGrasse Tyson is one of the most remarkable scientists of our time, having devoted a large part of his work to popularise his field of study, astrophysics, sometimes one of the most counterintuitive sciences of all.

    It covers a wide field nonetheless: from the Big Bang to black holes and multiverses, to the chemistry of the universe, to life evolution, to exoplanets, to astronomical observatories. Tyson has a knack for making everything quite accessible and even fun to the layperson. He also is an expert in the history of physics and, while covering contemporary subjects one of his favourites being dark matter and dark energy , he manages to drop a few facts about Isaac Newton , Michael Faraday or Albert Einstein. For, by knowledge derived from this science, not only the bulk of the Earth is discovered.

    Nov 17, Kelli rated it did not like it Shelves: audio. This book is not accessible for the average person, in a hurry or otherwise. It felt like a convoluted textbook to me. I will accept all the blame for my totally honest take on this book: I hated it. View all 17 comments. May 07, Maria V. Snyder rated it really liked it. It was interesting and full of information about the universe. A few chapters go into more detail than others and I didn't "get" everything, science wise.

    But I did get a few good ideas for stories! View 1 comment. Nov 03, Emily rated it it was amazing Shelves: nonfiction , science , favorites I have always been more of a words person than a numbers person. I stopped enjoying science in school when numbers got involved, somewhere around Honors Chemistry. This book was perfect for me. Written in an engaging, approachable style, Astrophysics for People in a Hurry has reignited my interest in science, particularly in astronomy.

    I learned a lot, only by rereading passages several times and then putting the book down to think for a few minutes before continuing, but mostly I came away with I have always been more of a words person than a numbers person. When you gaze up at the night sky you see light given off by stars. That light has travelled across space for dozens, hundreds or thousands of years before entering your eye. When astronomers use large telescopes to probe the Universe, the faint light they gather may have come from objects millions or billions of light years away.

    In effect, we see objects as they were in the past as it takes that light time to travel across space. Astronomy, perhaps the oldest of Sciences, is the study of celestial objects including the planets, stars, galaxies - even the Universe as a whole. What then is radio astronomy? When you listen to your radio, use a mobile phone or watch TV, you are using a device that receives radio waves.


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    • Radio waves are a form of electromagnetic radiation, just like the visible light you are used to seeing with your eyes. The difference in radio waves is that they have a longer wavelength and are lower in frequency than visible light. They also carry less energy. Visible light is energetic enough to help plants produce their own food through photosynthesis. Radio waves are far weaker than this so we need electronic amplifiers to help us boost their signal. Any electromagnetic with a wavelength greater than 1 mm is a radio wave. Radio waves were first detected from space in the s but few scientists took the discovery seriously.

      The development of radar in the Second World War led to improvements in antennas and electronics. After the war many of the scientists involved started to use this equipment to investigate the radio signals coming from space. The science of radio astronomy was born. All the matter around us is made of atoms. Atoms have in turn are made of sub-atomic particles, with electrons orbiting the nucleus comprised of protons and neutrons. When charged particles such as electrons and protons accelerate by changing their speed or direction, they emit electromagnetic radiation.

      We can detect many forms of electromagnetic radiation that together comprise the electromagnetic spectrum. The long wavelength, low frequency hence low energy form is called radio waves. Each type of electromagnetic radiation is produced by certain conditions. Astronomers can now detect all these types of emissions, sometimes by telescopes on the ground. Some forms such as X-rays can only be detected by telescopes in space as our atmosphere absorbs them, preventing them from reaching the Earth's surface.

      By detecting and studying electromagnetic emissions, astronomers can determine the conditions that produced them and so increase our understanding of objects and conditions far out in space. So what exactly do radio waves tell us? In order to answer this we need to understand how they are produced. There are two basic forms of radio emission; thermal and non-thermal.

      Thermal emissions are caused by the motion of charged objects such as molecules and atoms. As all matter has some heat energy stored in it, atoms vibrate, emitting electromagnetic radiation. The more energy stored, the more the atoms vibrate and the greater the amount of radiation emitted. When a gas is heated the energy will eventually be enough to kick out one or more of the electrons orbiting an atom. The atom now ionised and has a positive charge while the electron is now free. As negative electrons move around in this high temperature, charged gas called plasma they continually interact with the positive charges.

      Astrophysics for People in a Hurry

      Because they are thus accelerating they emit electromagnetic radiation. Another form of thermal emission is due to the spin of electrons as they "orbit" a nucleus. An excited electron loses energy by flipping it spin back to a more stable state. The radio wave emitted in this process always has a specific discrete wavelength.

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      An electron in a neutral hydrogen atom, for example, produces radio waves of 21cm wavelength via this process. As hydrogen is the most abundant element in the Universe this 21cm hydrogen line was one of the first radio emissions detected from space and continues to be a key wavelength for astronomers to observe. Non-thermal sources of radio waves include synchrotron radiation , in which electrons moving near the speed of light get accelerated in strong magnetic fields. Such conditions occur in very powerful sources such as quasars, active galactic nuclei and supernova remnants, the remains of massive stars that have exploded.

      Geosynchrotron emissions are a related process produced by pulsars, rapidly spinning neutron stars that are remnants of more massive stars. Masers or microwave amplification by the stimulated emission of radiation are similar to lasers but at short wavelength radio frequencies or microwaves instead of visible light. Natural maser sources are sometimes found in clouds of molecules in regions where stars are forming.

      A radio telescope is simply a telescope that is designed to receive radio waves from space. In its simplest form it has three components:.

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      The photos below show three types of radio telescope. A replica of the original is now on display at the site. The second is the Parkes radio telescope, star of the film The Dish. It opened in and still operates today. The dish antenna is 64m across. It opened in and comprises six 22m dishes that can be spaced out up to a distance of 6km along a rail track.

      This modern type of telescope where several dishes operate together is called an interferometer. Radio interferometers allow astronomers to study objects in finer detail than is possible using a single dish.