Space Chronicles: Facing the Ultimate Frontier
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Space Chronicles: Facing the Ultimate Frontier

3.96 of 5 stars 3.96  ·  rating details  ·  2,886 ratings  ·  312 reviews
"A compelling appeal, at just the right time, for continuing to look up."--Air & Space

America's space program is at a turning point. After decades of global primacy, NASA has ended the space-shuttle program, cutting off its access to space. No astronauts will be launched in an American craft, from American soil, until the 2020s, and NASA may soon find itself eclipsed b...more
Hardcover, 364 pages
Published February 27th 2012 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published January 1st 2012)
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David
This book is a collection of fascinating essays. Each essay is a gem; Tyson has excellent points of view about a number of subjects related to space exploration. The main theme of the book, is that NASA's funding should be increased, in order to allow manned space flights beyond low-Earth orbit. Tyson has some very good reasons for this; perhaps the chief reason is that only manned space flights will generate enthusiasm among young people, sufficient to encourage them to become scientists and en...more
Simon
I'm starting to think and hope that Neil DeGrasse Tyson is our generation's version of Carl Sagan. In that he not only writes and speak about space with such energy and passion, but he shares Sagan's ability to explain the universe in humurous, elegant and easy to understand ways, that make his work accessible to the laymen, as well as the passionate science and space geeks out there.

I watched Tyson give an interview the other night and he had me shouting "yes!" at the television as he systemati...more
Mike
Aug 30, 2012 Mike rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone
“Space Chronicles”.

I like the topic. I like the author. I like his style, his insights, his humor (most of the time), and his enthusiasm for what lies beyond the wild blue yonder.

This would have been a great book at one-quarter length. Why do I say that? Because there is so much repetition of themes: to the point where whole sentences and even passages are identical in multiple places. Not that the specific places where these statements get re-used are inappropriate or just “filler”. No, they ar...more
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Space Chronicles: Facing The Ultimate Frontier by Neil deGrasse Tyson

“Space Chronicles" is the inspirational plea of why NASA matters to America and what space exploration means to our species. Renowned astrophysicist, Neil deGrasse Tyson dissects the politics of space and also enlightens the reader of the sense of awe that comes from space exploration and discovery. This book selections represent commentary, interviews, thought-provoking quotes reflecting a spectrum of fascinating topics from...more
J.P.
One has to be careful in writing about science. Dumb it down and you risk losing your main audience who'll think it was written for grade schoolers but make it too advanced and people tend to get bored with all the technical jargon.
The author's approach is just right. What I liked best was he correctly points out that there are other reasons besides exploration for having a space program. There are scientific discoveries that can be applied for the benefit of all. It will interest kids so they m...more
Brian Clegg
I really struggled with this book. I love space and space travel - I have lived through and been thrilled by the entire space race and the development of space science. I expected to love a book by a great astronomer and science populariser, but instead I pretty well had to give up, part way through.

There are two problems. The lesser one is the structure of the book. It consists of a collection of articles, interviews and such that Tyson has produced on the subject of space exploration. This ine...more
Bry
Dr. Tyson is a genius. He is BRILLAINT. He is good hearted. He is observant. And he is a master of explaining anything and everything in an easy to understand manner.

I mean seriously, he could be explaining how paint dries and I would be completely enthralled and fascinated by the process.

This book is a collection of his wittings, speeches, and interviews over the years and revolves around man's journey into the universe. He talks about why we should make the effort to escape low orbit and how...more
Preeti
I can't remember anymore how or where I first came across Neil deGrasse Tyson. What I do remember is taking an instant liking to the man. I first started reading one of his earlier books, Death by Black Hole: And Other Cosmic Quandaries, though I never got through the entire thing because I ended up giving it to my grandfather who took it back to India. With so many books on my reading list, I haven't had a chance to get another copy.

Around that time, I also saw Dr. Tyson speak at an event at Ha...more
Jennifer D
oh...did i ever love this book!! so much. i am already a big fan of mr. neil degrasse tyson and this book just helped cement that love for me. dude is just awesome-sauce deluxe! i really like him because he just seems to OOZE passion for and in his work and he also seems to always be having a good time and able to poke a bit of fun at himself (hello big bang theory appearance. HA!).

when i finished this read a little bit ago, i began reading some reviews here on GR, to see what people thought. t...more
Ron
I am a huge fan of NDT. I absolutely agree with basically everything I've heard him say on space and NASA. So I pretty much had to read this book just on general principle and in support of what he's doing.

That being said, I felt a little disappointed emotionally when reading this. I guess my expectations were too high. I would have devoured this as a teen, before starting at NASA. It is definitely geared toward the layman. Which is really as it should be. At the same time I didn't enjoy readin...more
AnnMarie
Space Chronicles is not a tough read like A Brief History of Time, nor is it an amazing look at how science will improve our lives like Micho Kaku's Physics of the Future. It's a collection of brief passages, most reprinted material from Neil deGrasse Tyson's many newspaper columns, interviews, and even some of his more poignant tweets. This makes for an incredibly easy read, and one that I was almost finished with in only a few hours' time.

And the more I read, the more I came to realize who thi...more
David
A collection of essays written by Tyson over the years. Essays describe America's history in space and our current aimlessness in space exploration. The essays are consistent: we went to Moon to beat the Russians - essentially a Cold War endeavor; a nation that does not dream and think about tomorrow is doomed; other nations will pass us by; with NASA's share of the US budget less than 1/2 of 1% we can do great things if only we'd look up and dream. As someone who once dreamed of being an astron...more
Stian Haga
Jun 10, 2012 Stian Haga rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in space, science and the history of space exploration.
Neil deGrasse Tyson gives a good view of the past, current and future of space exploration. "Why, how and when" is thoroughly explained with an enthusiasm that is unparalleled. To be frank, I just really want to become an astronomer right now!
Jas
Although this is very good, it's not exactly a book, or should I say, it wasn't composed as a book but in pieces originally published separately. It's intelligent, funny, and energetic, but it isn't Cosmos. Expect some repetition of ideas. One I hate to concede is that people will not be excited enough by unmanned explorations to fund them consistently, even though it's dangerous (almost absurd) to put human beings in an environment that our 4.5 billion-year evolution has not prepared us for at...more
Kevin Cecil
A few years ago on Real Time with Bill Mahr, Ashton Kutcher asked why we waste money on NASA. His point was there there are so many problems down here on Earth that shooting money at the stars just seems wasteful. Someone needs to give Mr. Kutcher this book.
In SPACE CHRONICLES Neil deGrasse Tyson explains the applicable scientific achievements brought to us through space exploration (including a Hubble inspired breast cancer detector), while also detailing the numerous cosmic queries answered o...more
Ken Bronsil
I have heard Neil DeGrasse Tyson on various television shows and have been amazed at his energy, vitality, and imagination. It all comes through in this book, which is a collection of both his written work and his verbal presentations, interviews, and speeches. That means you read some ideas or expressions, or even stories, more than once. I didn't find that a problem because it's helpful to hear them again. There are a few chapters involving some advanced physics concepts; there are many other...more
jeremy
the great neil degrasse tyson, astrophysicist, director of the hayden planetarium, pbs/nova host, and ambassador to all sorts of interstellar and cosmic awesomeness, is also the author of nearly a dozen books. his newest, space chronicles: facing the ultimate frontier, is a collection of three dozen articles, speeches, and interviews (and even a poem!) previously published or delivered in public. divided into three main parts ("why," "how," and "why not"), space chronicles delves into a wide var...more
Nitya Sivasubramanian
Is there anything sexier in the world than an intelligent man who talks passionately about his work in a way that makes your feel more intelligent just for listening? If there is, please don't tell me, so I can continue to wallow in the wonder that is Neil deGrasse Tyson and his latest book, Space Chronicles: Facing the Ultimate Frontier.

To be honest, not much of what Mr. Tyson bases his arguments on is news to me. After all, I consider myself to be very much part of the choir he sees himself p...more
Tamara
Slightly redundant. A collection of essays, speeches, columns, interview transcripts and, for the love of giant black hole at the center of the galaxy, tweets from Tyson. It gets repetitive very fast, unfortunately, and is more focused on space advocacy, in the form illustratory histories of the space race, earnest all-American entreaties about soliloquies about destiny and exploration, half-formed economic points and entreaties to please study maths more, kids. All of which is fair enough, but...more
Jake
Apr 09, 2012 Jake rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Space Enthusiasts and Critics
I am a big fan of Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson and his arguments for increasing NASA's budget to ramp up space exploration efforts. As such, I'm not inclined to do a conventional review. Suffice it to say, Tyson is one of the preeminent voices advocating for space exploration. He also has an engaging writing style, a great sense of humor, and well-honed arguments worth considering. So I strongly recommend reading this collection of essays and interviews.

On the lighter side, here is a blog piece I di...more
Jeff Raymond
I have an appropriate mancrush on Neil deGrasse Tyson, so grabbing his newest book was a no-brainer for me. The book is a collection of previously written op-eds, speeches, and essays about space travel, the space program, and the universe, and all have that well-known Tyson charm to them, at that.

Tyson is probably our best scientific popularist out there currently, and this book is a great example of it. I'm not sure if he'll catch a lot of new eyes with it, but it's still a great primer, and o...more
Caitie
I thought this would be more like "woo! Mars!" and I guess the first half was, but then it made me all woeful about our embarrassing and dated transportation networks, sewage systems, and electrical grid, our failing bridges and levees, our slow Internet, our flopping science and math education, and OMG OUR COUNTRY IS FALLING APART and we should be investing in fixing these problems rn when we need the jobs and borrowing cannot be cheaper, but instead we're just capping the debt and doing auster...more
Jim
Entertaining and thought provoking. I enjoyed the segments of his essays where he reviewed the history of our space program. Tyson does tend to overstate his belief (although I agree) that we should increase funding for NASA and space exploration. I also share his concern with the United States becoming an "idiocracy" through our declining interest in science and math education. I like NDT, he is a very intelligent man who can also communicate to the layperson in a conversational style.
Michael Poteet
Tyson is a great communicator with an important message: America has fallen behind in the exploration and beneficial exploitation of space and space science simply by doing not much to nothing since the close of the Apollo program. While we have made wonderful advances in robotic technology, NASA -- with a budget of less than one half-cent of every American's tax dollar (less than one half-cent!) -- has not been given the support it needs to fuel the public's innate sense of wonder and passion f...more
Alex
Interesting read and enjoyable due to Neil degrasse Tyson's witty writing. He expounds on the importance of maintaining an active space program and how we have to rise above the motivation to go to space purely from a war perspective (basically how Apollo got funded). Lots of fascinating examples and anecdotes from the history of NASA.

My only negative is with the arrangement of the book. It's essentially a collection of essays, lectures, interviews and reports. Not bad in itself, but given that...more
Scott
I dove in hoping for a telling of space and information or what it is we should be looking for. What I found was a lot of complaining about what we didn't have. Funds, supplies, scientist, and motivation; I already knew these things. Looking around you can see we lack a lot of hope in the science world of today, especially here in America. That isn't what I wanted to know with these articles. I wanted to know what we should get motivated for; what ideas were being planned. I just wish we could h...more
Roy Proctor
Jan 27, 2014 Roy Proctor rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Intellectuals
Recommended to Roy by: I admire and respect NGT ever since I saw him give a talk at the Hayden Planetarium in 2007
It's a selection of vignettes by my favorite Astrophysicist; the majority of which detail the history of NASA, it's present, and how Tyson would like to see its future unfold. The history of NASA is described as simply objective dates of achievements, failures, and budgets, but rather as a government entity whose purpose is, and always has been, based upon geopolitical brinkmanship and international competition; especially as an extension of our propaganda and strategy for winning the hearts and...more
Valerie
If you want to bake an apple pie on Mars
You must first understand the stars.
Tyson inspires spirit, mind and heart
Making me wish I could re-start.

I would go far back in time
Forgoing the study of rhyme
Becoming a smart astronaut
Bookseller? Math teacher? Not!

It is far to late now for me,
time's arrow, crushing reality,
My students must realize my dream
Loving space will be my year's theme.
Naman
Takeaways:

1 - Unlike other animals, humans are quite comfortable sleeping on our backs.


2 - Two reasons that space exploration ever happened are for power or economic gain. "You don't want to die. You don't want to die poor"

3 - Expensive projects are vulnerable because they take a long time and must be sustained across changing political leadership/economic cycles

Doug Garnett
Love Neil's writing, passion, etc. But this is really just an article collection. And there's far too much repetition of ideas & even wording between articles. Wish they'd edited it better to make the articles flow like a book.

Sorry, Neil, I'm only giving it 2 stars. But keep the faith with your arguments for a real NASA rather than a defunded shell. I'm with you on all that!
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Neil deGrasse Tyson was born and raised in New York City where he was educated in the public schools clear through his graduation from the Bronx High School of Science. Tyson went on to earn his BA in Physics from Harvard and his PhD in Astrophysics from Columbia.

Tyson's professional research interests are broad, but include star formation, exploding stars, dwarf galaxies, and the structure of our...more
More about Neil deGrasse Tyson...
Death by Black Hole: And Other Cosmic Quandaries The Pluto Files: The Rise and Fall of America's Favorite Planet Origins: Fourteen Billion Years of Cosmic Evolution The Sky is Not the Limit: Adventures of an Urban Astrophysicist Merlin's Tour of the Universe

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“In 2002, having spent more than three years in one residence for the first time in my life, I got called for jury duty. I show up on time, ready to serve. When we get to the voir dire, the lawyer says to me, “I see you’re an astrophysicist. What’s that?” I answer, “Astrophysics is the laws of physics, applied to the universe—the Big Bang, black holes, that sort of thing.” Then he asks, “What do you teach at Princeton?” and I say, “I teach a class on the evaluation of evidence and the relative unreliability of eyewitness testimony.” Five minutes later, I’m on the street.

A few years later, jury duty again. The judge states that the defendant is charged with possession of 1,700 milligrams of cocaine. It was found on his body, he was arrested, and he is now on trial. This time, after the Q&A is over, the judge asks us whether there are any questions we’d like to ask the court, and I say, “Yes, Your Honor. Why did you say he was in possession of 1,700 milligrams of cocaine? That equals 1.7 grams. The ‘thousand’ cancels with the ‘milli-’ and you get 1.7 grams, which is less than the weight of a dime.” Again I’m out on the street.”
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“As a child, I was aware that, at night, infrared vision would reveal monsters hiding in the bedroom closet only if they were warm-blooded. But everybody knows that your average bedroom monster is reptilian and cold-blooded.” 53 likes
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