Cosmic Queries: StarTalk’s Guide to Who We Are, How We Got Here, and Where We’re Going

National Geographic. Mar. 2021. 312p. ISBN 9781426221774. $30. SCI
Based on the popular talk show and podcast StarTalk, this collection of essays explores many of the universe’s most intriguing mysteries. From dark matter, the Big Bang, and other space oddities to quarks, multiverses, and other quantum curiosities, Hayden Planetarium director Tyson (Astrophysics for People in a Hurry) and Trefil (physics, George Mason Univ.; The Story of Innovation) tackle a variety of topics in this follow-up to StarTalk, the first book based on the TV show. Written in a conversational style much like the eponymous podcast, the authors attempt to break down these subjects into interesting stories and fun facts, making them readily accessible to a general audience with little or no familiarity with astrophysics and quantum mechanics. Asking how old the universe is, or what the building blocks of life are, among other queries, the authors invite readers to contemplate these fascinating questions which scientists have pondered for centuries. As expected from National Geographic publications, the book is beautifully illustrated. Its stunning color photographs enhance the enjoyment of this cosmic reading journey.
VERDICT Casual readers and science buffs alike will appreciate Tyson’s folksy approach to explaining difficult scientific concepts. An engaging work that will have wide appeal.
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