By Neil deGrasse Tyson, Michael Strauss, and Richard Gott
Do you have a question about astrophysics? Any question at all? You can probably find some of the most up-to-date answers in this book, which covers…pretty much everything in the universe, and some things potentially beyond the limits of the universe. This book explores the known universe starting with our very own solar system, and moves outward to greater and greater distances and greater and greater unknowns. Stops along the way include the general operating principles of stars (including our own sun), what happens when stars die, a general survey of the galaxy, and a broad overview of the anisotropies across the entire observable universe and what they mean. Additional topics include how to measure such distances, what forces come into play (from the miniscule and unbelievably strong electromagnetic force, to the local impact of Newton’s gravity, to Einstein’s multidimensional gravity influencing curved spacetime), and a host of complicated equations that tell us exactly how to measure all of the above. And of course, what exploration of the universe would be complete without talking about time, the origin of the universe, and what fate might potentially await us hundreds of billions of years in the future. This truly is a tour through the cosmos!
“Welcome to the Universe: An Astrophysical Tour” started as an idea. Three leading experts in their respective fields were asked to put together an introductory course for students with majors unrelated to astronomy. After a few years of teaching the class (to great acclaim), they decided to put out a book covering the same topics addressed in the class. Hence, “Welcome to the Universe.” This book, published in 2016, shares all the highlights of astronomy, physics, and cosmology as had been discovered at the time of publication. The book is arranged sequentially so that each chapter builds on the information covered in the preceding chapters, which is why the book starts closest to home and gradually expands out beyond the limits of the known universe. The authors do what they can to illuminate each theory they discuss, and theories are further explained by charts, maps, images, and illustrations, and breaking down equations step-by-step and explaining each variable, but sometimes even that isn’t enough to explain some of the most abstruse concepts. This book is an excellent resource for your astrophysical questions, but sometimes you may have to read and reread (and reread again) pieces of it in order to understand what they are talking about.
I loved this book. I certainly struggled to grasp some of the concepts, particularly the later concepts that throw a wrench in my understanding of the fundamental properties of time, the universe, and everything, but my overall takeaway was a sense of excitement, possibility, and wonder.In a field that changes so quickly, recent information is the best information, and I learned a lot (SO MUCH) from reading this book. I absolutely recommend this book, just be sure to set aside enough time for it.