Astrophysics for People in a Hurry
My Rating – If you are looking for something
Level – short book, but if you don’t remember anything from high school physics, it could take a bit a work to read through
A summary is somewhat difficult, I guess the title says it all. It is 12 short chapters, all related to what he thinks are the important summaries of what you need to know to understand astrophysics. The first chapter being an intro, and the final chapter, no so much a conclusion as concluding reflections, which might have been one of the more interesting parts of the book. Other topics/chapters include ‘Big Bang’, dark matter, dark energy (which I had never heard of), the enormity of space, the minutia of atomic size, and oddly, the periodic table. Each chapter is broken down randomly into subsections of varying size and focus.
In some ways this is a strange book, it is part summary of astrophysics, but also part journal, and based on the subsections, part lecture notes or maybe parts or popular journal/magazine articles. This made the book a little disjointed, not so much by chapter topic, but the consistency inside each chapter. There would be a fascinating section in chapter that drills down to serious science, then the next section would be a personal story/reflection, some times entirely autobiographical.
The book is written for a popular audience and most sections read quickly. Other than unironically condescending people who believe in things with only theoretical proof (existence of God), only to then explain his knowledge of things with only theoretical proof (the multiverse), the writing is light-hearted and funny. It would definitely make you think, especially with some of the more abstract concepts like dark energy. Contemplating subjects like the size of the ever-expanding universe or just how long it has been around is fascinating.
I guess if you’ve ever wondered, ‘what is astrophysics or how should I start learning about it?’, this is a great place to start. I wish the chapters were a little tighter, but they are certainly interesting, and you will learn (or re-remember) many things. However, the book is so short, it is definitely worth picking up if you are looking for something.