Welcome to the Universe: An Astrophysical Tour

& others. Princeton Univ. Sept. 2016. 432p. ISBN 9780691157245. $39.95; ebk. ISBN 9781400883226. SCI
This work presents the content of an undergraduate astrophysics course taught by the authors, former or current Princeton faculty members. Astrophysicist, cosmologist, and author Tyson (director, Hayden Planetarium) begins by explaining the basics of our solar system and other star systems. Michael A. Strauss (astrophysics sciences, Princeton Univ.) follows with more details about galaxies, unique star types, and the larger structure of the universe. In the final third, J. Richard Gott (astrophysics sciences, Princeton Univ.) has the difficult task of tackling the more mind-bending topics of black holes, warp drives, and time travel in an accessible way. It's this final section that may cause readers' eyes to glaze over, though some may find their imaginations captured by the quantum weirdness of the galaxy. While the book is written for nonscientists, equations with basic algebra concepts are explained and manipulated throughout. The authors remind us that even though people are not the center of the universe, we are an intelligent species able to measure, theorize, comprehend, and explore the limits of knowledge.
VERDICT An excellent introduction that will equip readers to follow current astronomical discoveries or more readily enjoy hard sf.
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