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The Sky Is Not the Limit: Adventures of an Urban Astrophysicistby Neil Degrasse Tyson
Synopses & Reviews
This is the absorbing story of Neil deGrasse Tysons lifelong fascination with the night sky, a restless wonder that began some thirty years ago on the roof of his Bronx apartment building and eventually led him to become the director of the Hayden Planetarium. A unique chronicle of a young man who at one time was both nerd and jock, Tysons memoir could well inspire other similarly curious youngsters to pursue their dreams.
Like many athletic kids he played baseball, won medals in track and swimming, and was captain of his high school wrestling team. But at the same time he was setting up a telescope on winter nights, taking an advanced astronomy course at the Hayden Planetarium, and spending a summer vacation at an astronomy camp in the Mojave Desert.
Eventually, his scientific curiosity prevailed, and he went on to graduate in physics from Harvard and to earn a Ph.D. in astrophysics from Columbia. There followed postdoctoral research at Princeton. In 1996, he became the director of the Hayden Planetarium, where some twenty-five years earlier he had been awed by the spectacular vista in the sky theater.
Tyson pays tribute to the key teachers and mentors who recognized his precocious interests and abilities, and helped him succeed. He intersperses personal reminiscences with thoughts on scientific literacy, careful science vs. media hype, the possibility that a meteor could someday hit the Earth, dealing with societys racial stereotypes, what science can and cannot say about the existence of God, and many other interesting insights about science, society, and the nature of the universe.
Now available in paperback with a new preface and other additions, this engaging memoir will enlighten and inspire an appreciation of astronomy and the wonders of our universe.
"Not many teenagers get to hobnob with the likes of the late Carl Sagan or to go on a luxury cruise liner with the world's leading astrophysicists to observe a solar eclipse off the coast of Africa. But from a young age, Tyson single-mindedly pursued his goal of exploring the universe. Today he is the director of New York City's renowned Hayden Planetarium and is well known from his appearances on the evening news, most recently as a leader of the movement to downgrade Pluto from its status as a planet. In this pleasing memoir, Tyson tells of his early adventures in rooftop observation of the heavens, his sister lugging heavy stuff up to the roof of his Bronx apartment building while he carried his precious telescopes. His insistence on the importance of scientific education shines through in the second half of the book, where he explains esoteric subjects like dark matter and the Big Bang without talking down to readers. Tyson argues passionately for the importance of exploring space, since our planet will one day become uninhabitable. The author doesn't spend much time on aspects of his life unrelated to science, though he gives a powerful account of his escape from his apartment near ground zero on September 11. Tyson's recounting of some of the obstacles and misperceptions that he had to overcome as a young person of color to achieve his goals should inspire and inform young readers. But this graceful and thoughtful memoir will also appeal to adults interested in exploring the heavens. B&w photos. Agent, Betsy Lerner, Gernett Co. (May)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Book News Annotation:
DeGrasse, the director of the Hayden Planetarium, brought the world total of black astrophysicists to seven when he earned his PhD in astrophysics from Columbia University in 1991. He recalls his youth in the Bronx and the pivotal experiences and mentors who inspired him to study astronomy, reflecting on science literacy, racial stereotypes, and what science can and cannot say about the existence of God. B&w personal photos are included.
Annotation ©2004 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Tyson's memoir traces his fascinating journey from young rooftop stargazer in the Bronx to planetarium director with a Ph.D. from Columbia. He includes thoughts on scientific literacy, media hype, racial stereotypes and the existence of God.
Neil deGrasse Tyson, an American astrophysicist, author, and science communicator, is the Frederick P. Rose Director of the Hayden Planetarium at the Rose Center for Earth and Space and a research associate in the department of astrophysics at the American Museum of Natural History. The host of Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey on FOX—an update to Carl Sagan's Cosmos: A Personal Voyage television series—he previously hosted NOVA ScienceNow on PBS and has been a frequent guest on The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, Real Time with Bill Maher, and Jeopardy! He is the author of Death by Black Hole and Space Chronicles, among other works.
A unique chronicle of a young man who at one time was both nerd and jock, Tyson's memoir could well inspire other similarly curious youngsters to pursue their dreams.
About the Author
Neil deGrasse Tyson (New York, NY), an astrophysicist, is the Frederick P. Rose Director of the Hayden Planetarium. His monthly column, "Universe," appears in Natural History magazine, and he is also the author of Merlins Tour of the Universe and Just Visiting This Planet, among other works.
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