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Letters From An Astrophysicist

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The natural follow-up to the phenomenal bestseller Astrophysics for People in a Hurry. Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson has attracted one of the world’s largest online followings with his fascinating, widely accessible insights into science and our universe. Now, Tyson invites us to go behind the scenes of his public fame by unveiling his candid correspondence with people The natural follow-up to the phenomenal bestseller Astrophysics for People in a Hurry. Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson has attracted one of the world’s largest online followings with his fascinating, widely accessible insights into science and our universe. Now, Tyson invites us to go behind the scenes of his public fame by unveiling his candid correspondence with people across the globe who have sought him out in search of answers. In this hand-picked collection of one hundred letters, Tyson draws upon cosmic perspectives to address a vast array of questions about science, faith, philosophy, life, and of course, Pluto. His succinct, opinionated, passionate, and often funny responses reflect his popularity and standing as a leading educator. Tyson’s 2017 bestseller Astrophysics for People in a Hurry offered more than one million readers an insightful and accessible understanding of the universe. Now, revealing Tyson’s most candid and heartfelt writing yet, Letters from an Astrophysicist introduces us to a newly personal dimension of Tyson’s quest to understand our place in the cosmos.


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The natural follow-up to the phenomenal bestseller Astrophysics for People in a Hurry. Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson has attracted one of the world’s largest online followings with his fascinating, widely accessible insights into science and our universe. Now, Tyson invites us to go behind the scenes of his public fame by unveiling his candid correspondence with people The natural follow-up to the phenomenal bestseller Astrophysics for People in a Hurry. Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson has attracted one of the world’s largest online followings with his fascinating, widely accessible insights into science and our universe. Now, Tyson invites us to go behind the scenes of his public fame by unveiling his candid correspondence with people across the globe who have sought him out in search of answers. In this hand-picked collection of one hundred letters, Tyson draws upon cosmic perspectives to address a vast array of questions about science, faith, philosophy, life, and of course, Pluto. His succinct, opinionated, passionate, and often funny responses reflect his popularity and standing as a leading educator. Tyson’s 2017 bestseller Astrophysics for People in a Hurry offered more than one million readers an insightful and accessible understanding of the universe. Now, revealing Tyson’s most candid and heartfelt writing yet, Letters from an Astrophysicist introduces us to a newly personal dimension of Tyson’s quest to understand our place in the cosmos.

30 review for Letters From An Astrophysicist

  1. 4 out of 5

    Will Byrnes

    Yes, the universe wants to kill us. But on the other hand, we all want to live. So let’s find a way together to deflect the asteroids, find the cure to the next lethal virus, mitigate hurricanes, tsunamis, volcanoes, etc. This can only be enabled by the efforts of a scientifically and technologically literate public. Therein lies a hope on Earth far greater than ever promised by the act of prayer or introspection. It can be a bit of a challenge when talking about Neil deGrasse Tyson, deciding Yes, the universe wants to kill us. But on the other hand, we all want to live. So let’s find a way together to deflect the asteroids, find the cure to the next lethal virus, mitigate hurricanes, tsunamis, volcanoes, etc. This can only be enabled by the efforts of a scientifically and technologically literate public. Therein lies a hope on Earth far greater than ever promised by the act of prayer or introspection. It can be a bit of a challenge when talking about Neil deGrasse Tyson, deciding just where to start. Overall, one would have to say that He is the public face of space, this side of fiction, anyway. And speaking of fiction, he was cast in a recent Neal Stephenson novel, SevenEves, albeit with a nom du plume. He has published 14 books, hosted several science-focused TV series, including Cosmos, Star Talk, Origins, the Pluto Files and more. He is only the fifth ever head of the New York Planetarium, served on presidential science advisory councils, has been awarded NASA’s highest non-government-employee award. He is the teacher you wished you had for science, enthusiastic, knowledgeable, and encouraging, and with a wonderful sense of humor. Neil deGrasse Tyson - image from his site And if that is not enough, he is a remarkably charming guy, and a wonderful writer. In a recent Late Show interview with Whoopi Goldberg (at 7:21 of the clip), when Stephen Colbert asked her who her favorite ever guest was, she said Tyson, because he could talk for three hours straight, and they would all be wonderful, informative hours. And if Whoopi loves spending time with the guy, really, who are we to argue? How do you defend yourself when you have received a letter that proclaims you a “pooh-pooh head” for your role in downgrading Pluto to dwarf-planet status? What can you say to people who challenge you on religion, God, philosophy, who see responsibility for the 9/11 assaults in celestial alignments? This book consists of NDT’s responses to about 75 letters he’s received over the years, on a wide range of subjects. He also writes about some personal feelings and events, like his relationship with his father, or more ethereal considerations of nature. And some are just for fun, like his selection of the most scientifically BS movies of all time, or a museum visitor picking up a display information error that had been there for a very long time, and which NDT had had a hand in approving. Oopsy. There are some very heart-warming passages in which he encourages young learners. He opens with a look at his early exposure to NASA, not as the inspiration it was for so many, but as consistent excluder of people like him. He writes a birthday note to NASA, which was born the same month as he was. …you should know that among my colleagues, I am the rare few in my generation who became an astrophysicist in spite of your achievements in space rather than because of them. For my inspiration, I instead turned to libraries, remaindered books on the cosmos from bookstores, my rooftop telescope and the Hayden Planetarium. NASA moved forward in its employee selection with time, and Tyson would serve as an advisor to America’s space agency. He looks at extraordinary claims, the Cosmos, science denial, philosophy, matters of life and death, his experience with 9/11, religious faith, school issues, and parenting. A chapter titled “Rebuttals” is reserved for special smackdowns. Some chapters are more potpourri than focused. There is a fair bit of overlap among the chapters in subject material, but not enough to negate the structure of the book. Some notions are repeated maybe a time or two too often, but that is a small blemish. Tyson, above all, defends science as the way to understand the workings of the world and the universe. And castigates those who would substitute scriptural revealed truths for the objective, testable approach science offers. His correspondents include men, women, children, prisoners, celebrities, folks of diverse political stripes and religious persuasions. He responds to scientists, teachers, athletes, and morons. All with charm, knowledge, and wisdom. The incoming letters are querulous, admiring, and sometimes hate-filled. Tyson offers some surprising observations on things like the value of IQ, the best books to read, and an actual diamond in the sky. He remembers some people he admires. There is occasional snark in his replies, but, IMHO, not nearly enough. He offers a moving message to a fan who is about to lose a dying mother, and tells how Richard Holbrooke’s interest in science informed his diplomatic work. Like Whoopi says, listening to Neil for three hours is perfectly fine, and I expect you will find the time you spend with him in the pages of this book to be just as rewarding. Not only is NDT great at what he does, which is working to educate Americans about science, he is very warm, human company, who is blessed with a gift for explaining science, and an ability to write that smooths that educational element even more. In that interview Stephen Colbert did with Whoopi, she notes that after spending time with Tyson, she remembered more, of the science things he had been talking about, than she’d expected. Maybe you will too. It most certainly won’t hurt to try. And you have any questions, you could always just send the guy a letter. Review posted – October 4, 2019 Publication date – October 8, 2019 I received an ARC of this book from Norton in return for a review that would stand up to scientific scrutiny. =============================EXTRA STUFF Links to the author’s personal, Twitter and FB pages It would be redundant to add here the vast number of links one could use to connect with Tyson’s various activities. His primary site, at the Planetarium, offers those in abundance.

  2. 5 out of 5

    David

    This is a very engaging book; it is simply a collection of letters and emails that Neil Tyson has received, along with his responses. Most of the correspondence dates back ten or twelve years ago, with some outliers. It never occurred to me that he would receive such voluminous correspondence, and much of it not at all related to his specialty--astrophysics. People ask him questions and for his opinion on a very wide range of subjects; some of the questions deal with philosophical issues, and do This is a very engaging book; it is simply a collection of letters and emails that Neil Tyson has received, along with his responses. Most of the correspondence dates back ten or twelve years ago, with some outliers. It never occurred to me that he would receive such voluminous correspondence, and much of it not at all related to his specialty--astrophysics. People ask him questions and for his opinion on a very wide range of subjects; some of the questions deal with philosophical issues, and don't really have to do with science at all. What makes this book fund and endearing to read, is how Tyson's personality rings through in his responses. If you have ever watched Tyson on TV or in a video, you will latch onto how passionate and personable he is, and how cogent his conversations can be. These aspects of his personality come through loud and clear in his correspondence. He is always polite and kind, even when giving some rather blunt opinions and answers to questions. This is the type of person whom you would love to have as a friend.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Ryan Boissonneault

    Letters from an Astrophysicist is a collection of letters and replies from Neil deGrasse Tyson to his fans and other inquirers, collected over a span of more than two decades. The topics range across science, religion, philosophy, politics, ethics, education, and more, with Tyson doing his best to impart his cosmic wisdom to his often ill-informed interrogators. You might ask what benefits can be derived from reading this collection of letters, rather than reading Tyson’s other works or watching Letters from an Astrophysicist is a collection of letters and replies from Neil deGrasse Tyson to his fans and other inquirers, collected over a span of more than two decades. The topics range across science, religion, philosophy, politics, ethics, education, and more, with Tyson doing his best to impart his cosmic wisdom to his often ill-informed interrogators. You might ask what benefits can be derived from reading this collection of letters, rather than reading Tyson’s other works or watching his videos or podcasts. I think there are three: 1. Using the examples as a crash course in the art of letter writing for the purpose of being able to express your thoughts more clearly and concisely. 2. Learning how to answer a series of stupid questions with patience and understanding while cultivating a skeptical mindset in your audience. 3. Understanding the approach of a scientist and educator whose primary goal is the education of the public. I used to think that Tyson was overly evasive when it came to questions of god and religion and that his reticence to take a stand on political and religious topics was timid and non-confrontational (especially in comparison to someone like Richard Dawkins). While I still feel that there is a need for people like Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, I’ve since come to appreciate Tyson’s very different but still admirable approach. Tyson doesn’t want to shove his beliefs down your throat, unless you ask. He’s not interested in converting you to atheism or anything else, or telling you which politician to vote for. He wants to give you the facts, to tell you how to reason appropriately and think responsibly, so that whatever conclusions you come to you’ve come to on your own. Tyson’s only real agenda appears to be the fostering of independent thinking skills in his audience. As for the letters themselves, they are mostly edifying and often amusing. You may find yourself disagreeing with his approach on some topics, but his replies are typically well-thought out and researched. The letters to Tyson, however, can be monotonous and at times terrifically stupid (one person insists that they’ve found the secret to building a perpetual motion machine while another insists that Tyson should take Big Foot more seriously). Tyson’s replies seem to boil down to a few principles that are repeated over and over. Here are the primary ones: - A little bit of education is dangerous. People often know enough about a topic to think they’re right about some theory, but not enough about the topic to know they’re wrong. If you think you can build a perpetual motion machine, for instance, don’t bother Neil deGrasse Tyson; build the machine, submit your discoveries to peer-reviewed science, and win the nobel prize. More than likely, though, you’re just wrong; remember, education is largely the discovery of how little you actually know. - The argument from ignorance underlies all superstitions and conspiracy theories. As Tyson said regarding the claim that UFOs are alien spacecraft, “Once you confess to not knowing what you are looking at, no logical line of reasoning allows you to then declare that you know what you are looking at.” The “U” in UFO stands for “unidentified,” and just because you can’t identify it doesn’t automatically make it an alien spacecraft. Similarly, that you can’t understand how the universe came into existence doesn’t mean that “God did it.” - Eyewitness testimony is the least reliable evidence. Scientists and psychologists know that eyewitness testimony is the least reliable type of evidence available, especially when the event in question is several years old and reliant upon an also unreliable memory. All accounts of “supernatural” phenomena rely exclusively on this type of evidence, so if you’ve experienced something you can’t explain, for example, you should ask yourself whether it’s more likely that you’ve witnessed a suspension of the laws of physics or that you’re simply mistaken. Remember, the gold standard of science is peer-reviewed controlled experiment, to which no supernatural claims have ever held up. - The belief in extrasensory perception has a basic psychological explanation. Fortune tellers and psychics are compelling to people because people tend to remember the hits and not the misses. Take the example of prophetic dreams. You have multiple dreams every night regarding events that never transpire, which you quickly forget. But the one dream you have regarding an event that comes true—among thousands of meaningless dreams—will be the one you remember and use as “proof” of your prophetic powers, when it’s statistically guaranteed that you will eventually dream of something that actually happens. - Those who are determined to be offended always will be. There is nothing worse than someone who overreacts to an edgy joke. Every time Tyson Tweets something mildly controversial he gets bombarded by people who are destined to take offense on behalf of themselves or others or the country. We should all lighten up, not be so sensitive, and find something better to do with our time than police the internet for offensive material. - Epistemologically, religion is the enemy of science. While Tyson is more conciliatory when it comes to religion than others (perhaps too much so?), he understands that the discovery of truths via revelation, miracles, or faith—all unreliable methods subject to the whims of the individual— is the antithesis of the epistemological approach of science based on observation, experiment, and logical analysis. - The search for meaning outside of yourself is misguided. A number of questions fielded by Tyson revolve around the meaning and purpose of life and the belief in a higher power, whatever that phrase is supposed to mean. As Tyson said, regarding the question as to why we are all here: “I never think much about ‘why.’ Why implies a purpose set by external forces. I have always felt that purpose is not defined outside of ourselves, but from deep within. My purpose in life is to lessen the suffering of others; advance our understanding of the universe; and enlighten others along the way.” While Tyson is generally on point, I do take some issue with his dismissive stance on philosophy. In fact, most of what Tyson does himself is not science; he discusses and interprets the findings of other scientists and advocates for a particular epistemological view. This is, in many ways, mainly philosophical, whether explicitly stated or not. Personally, I don’t think it is possible to divorce philosophy from science, and history bears this out. Isaac Newton considered himself to be a “natural philosopher,” and his systematization of the universal laws of motion and gravity was largely a purely intellectual endeavor, not one based on simply running experiments and getting back data. The same can be said for Albert Einstein, whose theories of relativity began as thought experiments only later to be codified in mathematical terms and confirmed via experiment. There is always an interplay between experiments, data, and interpretation, and philosophy is a big part of that equation. Tyson’s views here seem to be very intellectually narrow-minded. Many physicists, for instance, such as Lee Smolin, believe that our next breakthrough in our understanding of quantum mechanics will be conceptual and philosophical. We already have the data, but no one can make any sense of it, or figure out which additional experiments can shed more light on the problem. It’s interesting to note that elsewhere Tyson suggests, in support of government funding of varied priorities, that “the most innovative solutions to problems commonly come from outside of the field—from people inspired by different priorities.” He also speaks of “cross-pollination of the disciplines” as being beneficial, yet maintains a dismissive stance towards a discipline that has throughout history been closely allied with science. In one of the letters to Tyson, an individual insists that philosophy is a useless endeavor, and that only science is useful, entirely oblivious to the fact that his very assertion of the uselessness of philosophy is itself a philosophical position that cannot be confirmed or denied via experiment. The fact is, we can’t escape philosophy; we can only decide whether we practice it poorly or well. Overall, this is an entertaining and intimate look into the mind of one of our best science educators. You’re guaranteed to learn some useful facts and gain exposure to a more enlightened perspective. But if you find yourself disagreeing with Tyson, that’s exactly what he would want, because it shows you’re still thinking.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Kristina

    Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Letters From an Astrophysicist is a snack-sized book packed with good reading. In less than 300 pages, this collection of letters and emails Tyson has received and responded to over a 20 year span offers up a variety of topics that all touch on science: parenting, disbelief, motivation, compassion, education and other concerns. Tyson loosely groups these communications into categories. The correspondence between Tyson and the senders is an interesting glimpse into what conc Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Letters From an Astrophysicist is a snack-sized book packed with good reading. In less than 300 pages, this collection of letters and emails Tyson has received and responded to over a 20 year span offers up a variety of topics that all touch on science: parenting, disbelief, motivation, compassion, education and other concerns. Tyson loosely groups these communications into categories. The correspondence between Tyson and the senders is an interesting glimpse into what concerns people. I also think it’s fascinating to see this as the effect of celebrity; Tyson is a stranger to (almost all of) these people, yet they wrote to him for advice on a wide-range of topics when perhaps someone closer to them in their community would have been more appropriate and surely more accessible. Because this book is a grab-bag of topics, some of the letters are more interesting to me than others. The prose is also not true to Tyson’s normal style. His other books are more entertaining to read as they contain more of Tyson’s personality, his humor and wit. Too many of his responses are written in what I would call HR style—he’s polite and helpful but distant. Reading some of them was like perusing emails you receive from your employer about the latest upgrades (or—more likely—subtractions from) your benefits package. However rude and ignorant some of the letters may have been (Tyson often shortens and edits long letters and provides summaries), he responds with courtesy, respect and maturity—a remarkable feat of writing and patience considering how angry rhetoric is today and how no one listens to differing viewpoints. I consider that yet another example of how intelligent, funny and delightful he is and another reason he is so popular. A few highlights from the book: 1) his list of books that every intelligent person should read and why (I’ve read 2—woo for me! I’ll add the others to my list); 2) his takedown of B.o.B. for popularizing flat earth idiocy (of all the dumb anti-science/anti-factual fantasies, this one always strikes me as the stupidest); and 3) the summary of his essay “The Cosmic Perspective” for a man to read to his ailing mother (to comfort her!). A point of disagreement with Neil: somewhere in the book (I can’t find it and didn’t mark it, which is weird for me) he says he does not call himself an atheist because he thinks it’s ridiculous (and unnatural) to define yourself by something you are not. I agree. However, we live in the United States of America, a country that overwhelmingly describes itself as religious (Christian) and way too many government positions are held by people of unyielding religiosity (“I-can’t-be-alone-with-a-woman-because-I’m-a-moron” vice-president Pence being one example) who don’t care about the Constitution and are attempting to turn America into the United States of Christianity (will be interesting to see which sect wins that battle). If I lived in a country in which the population is not religious, it would be very odd for me to describe myself as atheist—it wouldn’t be necessary. But in this country, where religious beliefs infuse daily life (all my coworkers at my new job are Catholics and assumed I was too until I had to politely say I wasn’t) and you are made to feel anywhere from a deviant to a pitiable, soulless, joyless, lonely person because you are not religious, it is necessary to define your views as being the negative of something. I hope that changes one day and your belief—or non-belief—in a supreme being is considered unimportant. Letters From an Astrophysicist is a thoughtful and interesting read. It’s not quite as vibrant and enjoyable as his previous book, Astrophysics For People in a Hurry, but if you like Tyson, you’ll probably like this.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Rafael

    “Letters from an Astrophysicist” by Neil deGrasse Tayson 🔭 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ This is my Second book by the always masterful Neil degrades Tyson and i completely loved it! Is brilliant and even though there is a lot of questions for this great science man all of them have a unique and masterful response, Neil Could easily do a mic drop with every answer, this book is full of knowledge, answers and powerful stories. I always pick Neil books on audible when he is the narrator is priceless to listen to him “Letters from an Astrophysicist” by Neil deGrasse Tayson 🔭 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ This is my Second book by the always masterful Neil degrades Tyson and i completely loved it! Is brilliant and even though there is a lot of questions for this great science man all of them have a unique and masterful response, Neil Could easily do a mic drop with every answer, this book is full of knowledge, answers and powerful stories. I always pick Neil books on audible when he is the narrator is priceless to listen to him reading his own book I have always been a science enthusiast and Neil is one of my greatest inspirations, him and Carl Sagan, their love for science and outstanding way of thinking gifts of knowledge and curiosity for this generation and many to come. 🌌 🌌 Thank you Neil you are one of the greatest inspirations of our time, keep looking up and teaching the ways of the universe!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Mustafa Jawad

    When I give a book 5 stars, I ask myself: Did I not want to stop reading? Was I turning the pages as time seemed to fly by? Did I feel a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment after completion? This book matches my criterion. The letters are short, witty, quick, and an excellent source of bite sized, intellectual eloquence. This book is far more pragmatic than say," Astrophysics For People In a Hurry." It has all the personality and heart that neil tyson intended to pour into this book. If you When I give a book 5 stars, I ask myself: Did I not want to stop reading? Was I turning the pages as time seemed to fly by? Did I feel a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment after completion? This book matches my criterion. The letters are short, witty, quick, and an excellent source of bite sized, intellectual eloquence. This book is far more pragmatic than say," Astrophysics For People In a Hurry." It has all the personality and heart that neil tyson intended to pour into this book. If you are a fan of neil tyson, this is a must read. And if you are not a fan of his, well that may change after reading this book.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Hamid

    This is a wonderful book which is a collection of letters and emails Tyson has received over many years of being active as a science communicator. The letters cover a range of different topics, from alien encounters to possibility of life on other planets, to skepticism and so on. The most important thing that I learned from this book is that an objective reality is true irrespective of one's personal opinion or belief. Gravity is real whether or not you and I believe in it. That's why science i This is a wonderful book which is a collection of letters and emails Tyson has received over many years of being active as a science communicator. The letters cover a range of different topics, from alien encounters to possibility of life on other planets, to skepticism and so on. The most important thing that I learned from this book is that an objective reality is true irrespective of one's personal opinion or belief. Gravity is real whether or not you and I believe in it. That's why science is the only way for us to access objective knowledge of the universe. Some answers given are glib, some are humorous, some are dead serious. I think Neil Degrasse Tyson did a fabulous job of collecting all these letters. So informative. Five stars.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Abhishek Desikan

    I have followed Neil deGrasse Tyson for a long time. YouTube, books, Star Talk podcasts, a live talk, Cosmos, etc., are some of the ways I've become accustomed to his style and views on all things under the sun (pardon the pun). In spite of that, this book was a refreshing change, as perhaps for the first time, we get to see the personal, empathetic side of the man, who is exceptionally rational most of the time. The book is precisely what the title suggests - a compendium of various letters writ I have followed Neil deGrasse Tyson for a long time. YouTube, books, Star Talk podcasts, a live talk, Cosmos, etc., are some of the ways I've become accustomed to his style and views on all things under the sun (pardon the pun). In spite of that, this book was a refreshing change, as perhaps for the first time, we get to see the personal, empathetic side of the man, who is exceptionally rational most of the time. The book is precisely what the title suggests - a compendium of various letters written by him, in response to the multiple questions he received over the past few decades, or for a newspaper editorial. One marvels at his communication and writing skills while we also recognize how he has impacted scores of people in his role as a science educator. Neil, of course, is consistent throughout in his responses - always respectful and courteous, whether it's appreciation or hate mail. He repeatedly invokes the "cosmic perspective" and is unapologetic of his views on religion, particularly Christianity. His deep care for the future of the country and the universe stand out, as he explains the importance of education and critical thinking for the next generation. A couple of letters stood out to me - A soldier in Iraq who scoured the night sky using his telescope after reading his book while being on duty; The couple who noticed a mistake on a plaque in AMNH and Neil's affable response; more than one concerned person asking if science and religion can co-exist, a grandma asking what that object was in the sky.. But the most touching was his recounting of the 9/11 attacks a day after the event. That recollection was so vivid that one feels like they witnessed the tragedy live. I wouldn't call this book a "must-read," but it's definitely a delightful read.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Andrienne

    Great companion for Astrophysics for People in a Hurry. This book is a compilation of letters that the author received from strangers as well as letters he wrote to everyone and as opinion pieces. The letters are filled with curious questions about science, complaints, and well-meaning fans just wanting to know where the author stands in topics that the letter-writers feel strongly about. Advance reading copy provided by the publisher.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jeff

    My wife Lisa received Letters From An Astrophysicist free with her ticket to see Neil deGrasse Tyson in person in Minneapolis last October. I had already purchased tickets to see Sleater-Kinney in St. Paul that night so I missed out, but I have seen Neil twice live and I'll see him when he returns to the Twin Towns. In his latest book, Neil shares his correspondence with folks in a number of difference subjects. He touches on just about everything in the 101 letters. His responses range from hil My wife Lisa received Letters From An Astrophysicist free with her ticket to see Neil deGrasse Tyson in person in Minneapolis last October. I had already purchased tickets to see Sleater-Kinney in St. Paul that night so I missed out, but I have seen Neil twice live and I'll see him when he returns to the Twin Towns. In his latest book, Neil shares his correspondence with folks in a number of difference subjects. He touches on just about everything in the 101 letters. His responses range from hilarious to cutting, and are always full of the passion for science that he's known for. Being a long time fan of his podcast Star Talk, I was actually surprised at the directness of some of his answers. On Star Talk, I feel his answers are always diplomatic and he seems to soft-pedal around subjects which may be divisive, like religion. In the book he gets to the point and doesn't mince words when addressing subjects such as religion, creationism, and flat-earthers. In fact, he includes this book includes his now-famous (video) letter to the rapper and flat-earther B.O.B, in which Neil drops an f-bomb and literally drops the mic at the end. The Rebuttal chapter also includes letters to his daughter's principal, a conservative talk-show host who called Neil "A Horse's Astrophysicist", and musician Moby who publicly criticized him over a tweet. The letters are organized in to four sections: Ethos, which includes the topics hope, extraordinary claims, and musings; Cosmos, which includes hate mail, science denial, and philosophy; Pathos, which includes life and death, tragedy, and to believe or not; and Kairos, which includes school days, parenting, and rebuttals. The book ends on a melancholy note with the eulogy which Neil wrote for his dad and delivered to friends and family at his dad's funeral in December 2016. This is a quick read, the letters come fast and furious and Neil's responses are often short and to the point. Like with all collections, not everything may be appealing to you but if you are a fan of science you will find this interesting at the very least. Neil has a way with words.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Mark Mortensen

    In this book astrophysicist author Neal deGrasse Tyson reveals his inner thoughts through personal correspondence. As a pure scientist he aligns with hard proven facts. His NYC residence was just 4 blocks from the world towers on 9/11/2001. I’m amazed that he witnessed the horror and carnage as mere facts. Life would be boring if everyone were the same; however I feel fortunate that I trust facts, but also have faith in a higher power, a God and believe in the power of prayer.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Daniel Kukwa

    Dear Dr. deGrasse Tyson, thank you for assembling a lovely collection of correspondence than gives me bucket-loads to add into my own teaching of students, as well as thoughts that mirror my own views of life, the universe, and everything. Wonderful stuff!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Erik Rostad

    Highly enjoyable, concise and human. Made me want to read his other books.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Víctor Álvarez

    If a spacecraft could survive the temperatures on the surface of the Sun, it would be cold compared to the burns delivered by Neil deGrasse Tyson. This books offers a look to the inner workings of the mind of Dr Tyson.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

    Whether he is getting deep into scientific explanation or into something more personal, whether his responses were informative, funny, a sick burn or mic drop, or insightful and thought provoking...I enjoyed every letter he included and how he responded to them all.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Nick D

    I love NDT and he's a national treasure. An excellent writer and the consummate science communicator, he is truly someone I want to emulate in my on communications. This is a collection of his personal correspondence to friends, family, fans, and haters, and covers many aspects of astrophysics and science. Too much on religion for me, but I guess that's interesting to some people. One thing he emphasized that stuck out to me was that he's not concerned as much with teaching people facts but rath I love NDT and he's a national treasure. An excellent writer and the consummate science communicator, he is truly someone I want to emulate in my on communications. This is a collection of his personal correspondence to friends, family, fans, and haters, and covers many aspects of astrophysics and science. Too much on religion for me, but I guess that's interesting to some people. One thing he emphasized that stuck out to me was that he's not concerned as much with teaching people facts but rather teaching them HOW to think so they can be better at detecting BS.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Sandra (folded.between.pages.of.books)

    Not really sure how to rate this one but I enjoyed reading his take on things, him standing up for himself and some of his mindblowing revelations. I did sometimes think he came across a little egocentric and sometimes I didn't think his answers were really answers... but maybe that's just me. Either way, I did enjoy this and it was a very quick read.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Vaishnavi Jayakumar

    This book is filled with wisdom in the form letters. I got answers to the questions I never thought existed. I never knew that there is a conflict between science and religion, which is majorly discussed here...... A person's excellence is seen when they come down to explain their knowledge to ordinary people,who know little about a complicated concept......u see this here. After reading this book, I felt like Dr. Tyson is the Gandhi of science world.....

  19. 5 out of 5

    John Young

    3.5/5 “When I wonder what I am capable of as a human being, I don’t look to “relatives,” I look to all human beings. That is the genetic relationship that matters to me. The genius of Isaac Newton, the courage of Joan of Arc and Gandhi, the athletic feats of Michael Jordan, the oratorical skills of Sir Winston Churchill, the compassion of Mother Teresa. I look to the entire human race for inspiration for what I can be—because I am human. I don’t care if I am a descendent of kings or paupers, sain 3.5/5 “When I wonder what I am capable of as a human being, I don’t look to “relatives,” I look to all human beings. That is the genetic relationship that matters to me. The genius of Isaac Newton, the courage of Joan of Arc and Gandhi, the athletic feats of Michael Jordan, the oratorical skills of Sir Winston Churchill, the compassion of Mother Teresa. I look to the entire human race for inspiration for what I can be—because I am human. I don’t care if I am a descendent of kings or paupers, saints or sinners, the brave or cowardly. My life is what I make of it.”

  20. 5 out of 5

    Mansoury

    Disappointed that it’s mostly not about astrophysics From a massive NDT fan, I was disappointed to find that it’s not a book about astrophysics but just random thoughts and stories. I thought the title was misleading because I sadly expected this book to be a merging of Astrophysics for People in a Hurry and Brief Answers to the Big Questions, which was also a compilation of letters and responses by Stephen Hawking.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Dan Graser

    This wonderful brief volume is an excellent follow-up to his equally brief and equally potent, "Astrophysics for People in a Hurry," in that you get a varied glimpse into the ebulliently enthusiastic workings of a great mind. Here, the story is told through the dying art form of letters (mostly, though of course there are some "open letters" and extended Facebook posts included) in which NdGT talks with fans, to open audiences, to folks challenging his views, and to a wide swath of the public on This wonderful brief volume is an excellent follow-up to his equally brief and equally potent, "Astrophysics for People in a Hurry," in that you get a varied glimpse into the ebulliently enthusiastic workings of a great mind. Here, the story is told through the dying art form of letters (mostly, though of course there are some "open letters" and extended Facebook posts included) in which NdGT talks with fans, to open audiences, to folks challenging his views, and to a wide swath of the public on many issues. Given the wide range of topics covered, from a school principal's misguided notions of calculus class admission to the efficacy of studying physics for a police officer, this is somewhat scattershot-type reading. However, the cumulative effect of these vignettes is to illuminate a guiding principle that he has reinforced several times that what matters most from an education and development as a thinker is that, "Knowing HOW to think empowers you far beyond those who only know what to think." This is wonderfully lucid reading that I commend to all with a passing interest in any number of scientific fields.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Kelly Sedinger

    There's not a whole lot of technical stuff in here, if you're intimidated by some of Tyson's other books. Here he responds to a bunch of letters, emails, and other communications he's received over the years, touching on many topics, from hopeful young people asking him for advice in pursuing the sciences to enthusiastic believers in crank notions like perpetual motion to doubters like climate change denialists to the outright hostilities of creationists. The book is more a hearty cheer for the There's not a whole lot of technical stuff in here, if you're intimidated by some of Tyson's other books. Here he responds to a bunch of letters, emails, and other communications he's received over the years, touching on many topics, from hopeful young people asking him for advice in pursuing the sciences to enthusiastic believers in crank notions like perpetual motion to doubters like climate change denialists to the outright hostilities of creationists. The book is more a hearty cheer for the scientific approach to life and the cosmic worldview than any kind of precis about science itself. Tyson is often very good at putting science into a context that people can understand, helping them to see how a society committed to science is better than one dominated by uninformed denialism.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Hải

    It is an "ok" book. If you expect it to be something big and be able to gain much knowledge about astrophysics, or, the universe, the galaxy... from it, you will be quite disappointed. I think it is more an easy-reading book from Mr. Tyson. The book is a collection of letters and posts from him throughout many years. It is nice to read his ideas about many aspects: science, religion, philosophy (kinda)... Just don't expect much. Here is the quote I like "...we who die are the lucky ones. Most peo It is an "ok" book. If you expect it to be something big and be able to gain much knowledge about astrophysics, or, the universe, the galaxy... from it, you will be quite disappointed. I think it is more an easy-reading book from Mr. Tyson. The book is a collection of letters and posts from him throughout many years. It is nice to read his ideas about many aspects: science, religion, philosophy (kinda)... Just don't expect much. Here is the quote I like "...we who die are the lucky ones. Most people — most genetic combinations of who could ever exist — will never be born, and so will never have the opportunity to die."

  24. 5 out of 5

    Merek Smith

    A wide array of subjects with awesome answers from Neil. This was a refreshing book to listen to (audiobook read by Neil). It was very fun getting little bits of random knowledge. I think Neil does a fantastic job answering so many different questions. He has a very special way of responding, never making the person look or seem to be stupid or completely wrong. He takes all the questions seriously and provides thoughtful answers. I very much enjoyed listening to this and already listened to part A wide array of subjects with awesome answers from Neil. This was a refreshing book to listen to (audiobook read by Neil). It was very fun getting little bits of random knowledge. I think Neil does a fantastic job answering so many different questions. He has a very special way of responding, never making the person look or seem to be stupid or completely wrong. He takes all the questions seriously and provides thoughtful answers. I very much enjoyed listening to this and already listened to parts of it over again.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Nikolaos

    This book touches on an array of subjects giving you a glimpse into Dr. Tyson's mind over the years. Perhaps "the universe is under no obligation to make sense to [us]," but these letters help you reach closer to it. Don't treat this book as a novel; rather, imagine it as a buffet of ideas to which you can come back to for advice, hope, motivation, and--yes--imagination., for Dr. Tyson's words permeate the blunt scientific language of academia.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Tim Williams

    NDT has a very eloquent and thoughtful response to each one of the letters contained here. In places where he could take the low road when someone challenges him on religion - or in more extreme cases when someone insults him - he provides unexpected insights and responds in a way that opens up your mind and hopefully the letter writer’s to different ways of looking at the same thing. As he says, it’s more important to know how to think than to simply know things. Recommended.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Ron

    I wasn't expecting to enjoy this book as much as I did figuring it would be a lot of dry correspondence. It turned out to be much more philosophical, enlightening and empathetic than expected. Strongly recommend reading (or listening to the audiobook like I did) if you enjoy science, education and some pop culture.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Pumpkinpuddy

    In my opinion, Neil deGrasse Tyson never disappoints. You may not always agree with his responses, but they were a joy to read.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Mohamad Zolfaghari

    One star is reduced not because of the content of the book, but because of the publisher. Almost the same price as Hardcover, I ordered paperback because I wanted to have a small, light tiny book on my road trip. To my surprise, paperback was bigger than hardcover. Huge book, huge letters, extremely thick papers (with 250 pages, its same thick as my next book with 470p). shame on the publisher to waste so much for no reason! Back to the book. In short, if you are not a dumb hard-core religious Am One star is reduced not because of the content of the book, but because of the publisher. Almost the same price as Hardcover, I ordered paperback because I wanted to have a small, light tiny book on my road trip. To my surprise, paperback was bigger than hardcover. Huge book, huge letters, extremely thick papers (with 250 pages, its same thick as my next book with 470p). shame on the publisher to waste so much for no reason! Back to the book. In short, if you are not a dumb hard-core religious American, the book has little to nothing to offer. 80% of the book is “don’t be stupid, science doesn’t work that way”. I am sorry if NDT have to go through so much stupidity in his life, but he doesn’t need to write a book on it and waste other people’s time. I thought there are much fewer letters in this book with much longer answers, I thought there are many more letters from scientist philosophers etc. with real debates about real stuff. Don’t get me wrong, there were 10% of the letters I actually enjoyed to read, but most letters were repetitive and boring and many time NDT didn’t even answer wisely. I heard many wiser answers to those boring religious questions from other scientists.
And do me a favour NDT, you are a scientist, stop writing in imperial system! If you must, at least ask publishers to change them to metric for European countries.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Mark Lawry

    Who else could take a few emails off their computer and throw them together to make a short book and have it work? For Tyson it works. So many of my friends hate Tyson and I don't necessarily always share his politics, that's ok. I'll admit that my bias in favor of him is a function of the fact that he reminds me of my late father. I was assigned to Pearl Harbor HI and dear old dad flew out from Boston to drag me out to the Big Island so we could drive up the mountain to see the Keck. I had neve Who else could take a few emails off their computer and throw them together to make a short book and have it work? For Tyson it works. So many of my friends hate Tyson and I don't necessarily always share his politics, that's ok. I'll admit that my bias in favor of him is a function of the fact that he reminds me of my late father. I was assigned to Pearl Harbor HI and dear old dad flew out from Boston to drag me out to the Big Island so we could drive up the mountain to see the Keck. I had never even heard of the Keck until then. Dad, as usual, couldn't contain himself with excitement in describing what it was. Dad showed the same excitement and crazy hand gestures and almost jumping out of the seat with energy that you see in Tyson when describing what we know about the universe and why, and how. This short collection of emails offering advice and opinions on science could have entirely come from my dad. One example, a police officer asked for advice and Tyson's response was go to the local commity college and take a class in physics. I'm quite sure the cop was scratching his head thinking that had nothing to do with the question he asked. I know, I grew up into my 40s hearing this very exact advice.

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