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Death by Black Hole: And Other Cosmic Quandaries

4.1  ·  Rating Details ·  16,542 Ratings  ·  889 Reviews
Loyal readers of the monthly "Universe" essays in Natural History magazine have long recognized Neil deGrasse Tyson's talent for guiding them through the mysteries of the cosmos with stunning clarity and almost childlike enthusiasm. Here, Tyson compiles his favorite essays across a myriad of cosmic topics. The title essay introduces readers to the physics of black holes by ...more
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published January 17th 2007 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published November 1st 2006)
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Neil deGrasse Tyson is a force to reckon with.


But he is not Carl Sagan.

While Sagan must have smiled down kindly on your meek acknowledgement of ignorance regarding, say, black holes, Tyson will have most probably given you the stink eye or aimed a sarcastic jibe at your apathy, before proceeding to explain why black holes still remain a topic of much speculation in the community of astrophysicists worldwide.

Tyson does not pull any punches in this collection of essays while slamming the news me
Dec 23, 2009 Chloe rated it really liked it
Shelves: science, audiobook
Within my skull, where all of those vital pieces of data surrounding science are supposed to be stored, there is instead a vast beaker-shaped void of ignorance. In high school, while we were supposed to be studying the musculature of the formaldehyde-soaked amphibians pinned ignominiously to their coffinesque metal trays, I was far more interested in studying the effects of adding fire to small green buds. During my brief time wandering the hallways of the University world, I was able to do away ...more
Apr 22, 2009 Chris rated it really liked it
Shelves: science, society
I have often lamented the passing of my favorite popular scientist, Carl Sagan, by talking about how necessary he is right now. We are at a point in our history where scientific illiteracy is growing, where people are not only ignorant of how science works, but are proud of their ignorance. What we need is someone who can reach the majority of Americans who are not especially scientifically literate - the people whose automatic reaction to science is to think, "That's just too hard for me to dea ...more
I don't think I can properly explain how much I love this book, but I'll try.

Death by Black Hole: And Other Cosmic Quandaries is a collection of essays Tyson wrote for Natural History, a magazine dedicated to -- you guessed it -- natural history (basically, science) between 1995-2005.

What I like about it:
- Tyson writes in a way that's easily accessible for anyone even without a science background. His analogies are easy to understand and they're fun. Like, "Oh, Neil deGrasse Tyson, you." Also, h
Oct 15, 2007 Maria rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
I have one last section to go (Religion and Science), but my main points won't be affected by it.

Death By Black Hole provides, especially in the first couple of sections, a really good outline of various problems that astrophysicists are confronted with, and it definitely made me think of the scientific process in a new way. So that was pretty cool. But on the whole, my reaction was rather meh - kind of disappointing when the book really isn't bad.

My main complaint about the book isn't actually
Mohamed al-Jamri
May 18, 2016 Mohamed al-Jamri rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
هذا الكتاب الرائع هو عبارة عن مجموعة من المقالات المطولة التي كتبها نيل تايسون خلال الفترة بين و. وعلى عكس أحد الكتب المشابهة التي جمع فيها ستيفن هوكنج مقالاته فإن التكرار في المواضيع هنا شبه معدوم، فكل منها تتحدث عن موضوع مختلف.

لا أعلم حقًا ما أقول في روعة وجمال هذا الكتاب، هل اخترت يا نيل تايسون أجمل وألذ المواضيع العلمية لتعرضها لنا؟ أم أن كل كل تلمسه يصبح جميلًا هكذا؟ إن طريقة تقديم تايسون للمواضيع العلمية تجعله أحد أفضل العلماء للتواصل مع العامة.

في كتابه الشهير، تاريخ موجز للزمان، طرح هوكن
Brendon Schrodinger
Aug 03, 2013 Brendon Schrodinger rated it really liked it
Neil is without doubt one of the greatest scientific communicators alive. He is erudite and hilarious with no apparent effort and can always bring the 'wow'.

I enjoy his podcast and have probably watched near all videos on youtube that feature him. This is the first time that I have tried his written work and I am very pleased with the results.

This work is a collection of editorial pieces that Neil writes for a periodical. They are intended to be short, punchy scientific stories and not form an o
Jul 23, 2011 Stephanie rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, science, 2011
Blinded by science
Einstein, Io, comet tails
Information glut

I consider myself an intelligent person. I also find science fascinating. I'm just not sure what happen between me and Death by Black Hole: And Other Cosmic Quandaries.....

Maybe I just wasn't in the mood for a science-y book. Maybe I over estimated my intelligence. Both are quite possible. The whole time I was listening to this, it was like listening to Charlie Browns teacher. whaa wha whaa wha whaa Galileo, wha wha E=mc2, whaa whaa wha
Jan 25, 2010 David rated it it was amazing
As a scientist, at first I was rather bored by this book. I was not learning anything new, and not gaining new insights into astronomy.

But, as I read further, it just hit me--this book is tremendously entertaining! If you are a layman, and looking for a unique viewpoint, you could do a lot worse than this book. And, believe it or not, you will be entertained!

In addition, Tyson puts several aspects of astronomy and astrophysics into a unique perspective. He describes all the ways that the univers
Jul 13, 2016 Triin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
My preferred way of meditating is to sit in my balcony and look at the stars. It feels good to feel unimportant sometimes. I would lay awake thinking about the black holes. Of our star-dust bodies. That this Earth is a speckle of dust in a cosmic dust storm. To think of our frivolities against the colors of the chalky galaxy. Of Jupiter’s moon Europa with its layers of ice stretching across the sphere. The moon of ice. To imagine faraway planets illuminated by a star who annihilates itself in a ...more
Mar 12, 2009 Kathy rated it liked it
A great title for a book, that alone made me want to read it. Of course, this is the type of book I will almost always pick up from the library. It is a collection of essays on science for the magazine Natural History. It covers a wide range of topics, usually relating to physics, from particle physics to astrophysics. I love this stuff and I only wish I retained enough math to be able to read more technical discussions than these rather general essays.
The essays are informative and entertaining
Alex Telander
Sep 16, 2010 Alex Telander rated it liked it
DEATH BY BLACK HOLE AND OTHER COSMIC QUANDARIES BY NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON: An astrophysicist for the American Museum of Natural History, director of the world famous Hayden Planetarium, and columnist for Natural History magazine, Neil DeGrasse Tyson brings to the non-scientific world the ideal book for those fascinated with space, the cosmos, black holes, and all the questions and wonders therein. Death by Black Hole is the perfect book for the reader who wants answers to questions about the univer ...more
Sep 25, 2015 Negativni rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Teško se odlučujem za čitanje znanstvene knjige, jer mi koncentracija nije kao što je nekad bila, a i očito je da su se i neki neuroni i njihove međusobne veze ugasili... ali ipak, ne dam se :-)

"Death by Black Hole: And Other Cosmic Quandaries", Neila deGrasse Tysona je čitko i vrlo razumljivo štivo ne samo o crnim rupama, nego, kako kaže i podnaslov "ostalim kozmičkim nedoumicama" koje nisu nužno astronomske prirode. Knjiga je nastala skupljanjem preko 40 najdražih Tysonovih eseja originalno ob
Feb 14, 2012 Josh rated it did not like it
For me this book was merely okay. I've read quite a bit of these types of books, physics for the layperson, and this book was probably my least favorite.

I don't like the overall tone of the book. Tyson makes a point to belittle the human race as much as possible and he comes across as pessimistic. By no means do I think humans are the pinnacle of perfection, but I think we're doing pretty well.

The content of the book was all over the place and only briefly touched on black holes and other cosmic
Jan 30, 2008 Cheri rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
Neil Degrasse Tyson is one of those science guys that you wished you had as a teacher, he's excited and impassioned by his subject and it shows on every page. Mostly known as the host of PBS's Nova Science Now, he never talks over your head, but at the same time, Tyson always assumes that you're intelligent and can grasp the concepts he's discussing. It's a fine balance that many science writers fail to master. Anyone who is interested in Astronomy should give this book a try. It covers a lot of ...more
Mar 23, 2014 jeremy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science, essays
in this young, still fertile century, there may not be a better emissary and evangelist for scientific curiosity than neil degrasse tyson. the bronx-raised astrophysicist's ability to succinctly, accessibly, and entertainingly convey even the headiest and most complex of subjects is itself a marvel. death by black hole: and other cosmic quandaries collects 42 of tyson's essays from natural history magazine, published over 11 years beginning in 1995.

death by black hole is divided into 7 sections;
Jan 05, 2010 Sean rated it really liked it
I feel that the reason that people do not understand science in the US today is because we have a foolish tradition of thinking that the only way to "know" physics is through the terse formalism of mathematics. Math is a tool to do science, as much as a microscope or a superconducting supercollider. The disservice we do as scientists are when we are unable to communicate the concepts about our physical world to the population at large because we tangle ourselves up in mathematical formalism.

Jose lana
Jul 22, 2016 Jose lana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A sort of a Nearly a Histhory of Everything but foccused mainly on astrophysics,writen as a series of articles touching diverse subjects.

A very entertaining,easy to read popular science book with, unusual in this sort of books, a touch of fine and at times acid humor.

It has two very interesting final chapters where the author makes a disgression of the relations between people,science and religion,and makes clear his position in regard to the inteligent design hypotesis with yhe following textua
Anood AlKatheeri
A spectacular book that never fails to constantly put the reader in a state of wonder, thoughtfulness, and insightfulness (if that even is a word). Neil Degrasse Tyson impressively tackles a wide range of interesting cosmological and astrophysical subjects, ideas, and phenomena explanations with hilarious commentary and analogues that makes this book worth reading!
Leana M
Apr 22, 2015 Leana M rated it it was amazing
Well written and great stuff for the universe geek (or anyone with the slightest interest and curiosity for learning). NDT adds some fun with his quirks and humor. Allow me to indulge in a little pun here- And it ends with a bang. ;)
Dale Jr.
Dec 18, 2012 Dale Jr. rated it really liked it
Neil deGrasse Tyson has become a bit of an inspiration and scientific hero to me. He's a man who strongly pushes forth to erase scientific ignorance and champions the exploration of our world and the universe to further human greatness.

His lectures are intensely interesting and full of scientific knowledge, yet easy to follow by anyone willing to listen and apply their minds. He boils down some of the most complex theories and scientific facts so that they're easily understood. His writing is no
Jun 10, 2010 Leslie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If the lovely fact that our sun will probably burn out in 4 billion years and our beloved Earth will turn into a huge ball of black rock because of it (until it's vaporized that is) bothers you, keeps you up in the night, this book might not be for you. If you're worried about an asteroid hitting somewhere between Hawaii and California in 2039 and Idaho becoming ocean front property (hmm, maybe an improvement?), then this book might not be for you. If you're worried about what might happen to yo ...more
Emma Sea
My main dissatisfaction with this book is that it's a series of collected magazine columns. This does seem a bit like criticising an apple because it's not a banana, however I think Tyson would have be been better advised to hire an editor to whip this into an actual book, rather than just reprint the original short essays. For example, in chapter 25 Tyson critiques the concept of the "Goldilocks Zone", discussing the myriad ways life could flourish in environments entirely dissimilar to our own ...more
Nicholas Armstrong
Jul 03, 2013 Nicholas Armstrong rated it it was ok
I can already see the masses of Tyson fans charging ahead just to light me aflame for having the audicity to doubt a word he says, but so I must. To be fair, I love Neil deGrasse Tyson. I saw him speak at USC, I've watched his lectures and his interviews, and I think he has done more for popularizing science than anyone else. But none of that a writer makes. This is especially true of sarcastic and sardonic wit.

Being funny in text is what I would rate as the most challenging things to accomplis
Jan 20, 2010 Bakari rated it it was amazing
Astrophysicist, Neil deGrasse Tyson‘s Death By Black Hole is definitely an engaging read, especially for these modern times. Though many pages and chapters about the particulars of matter, energy, space, and time—the physics of the universe—were very difficult for my scientifically illiterate mind to comprehend, I read nearly ever page for nuggets of understanding.

Tyson is a excellent writer because he knows his subject matter. Just think how different our Bible reading population would be if T
Evan Wondrasek
Apr 10, 2015 Evan Wondrasek rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Death by Black Hole is one of the most interesting non-fiction science books I've ever read. It's a collection of essays published by Neil deGrasse Tyson over the last 10+ years, and provides great, down-to-earth explanations of amazing astrophysics phenomena.

This isn't a book about farfetched scenarios as its title implies - only a single chapter was actually about "death by black hole" - but the rest of the book presented a thorough and highly scientific explanation of the universe as we know
Bryce Holt
Dec 23, 2010 Bryce Holt rated it liked it
Gah, I suffered from the worst malady a reader can have while making my way through the audio version of this - disenchantment. I've read too many other books on the subject, and while I praise deGrasse Tyson as both a teacher and a storyteller of the cosmos, I did not feel this collection of essays compared to the more robust information you get from the likes of Brian Greene, one of deGrasse Tyson's contemporaries. One of the author's instincts, I believe, is to over-inform on the unnecessary ...more
Apr 18, 2011 Colleen rated it really liked it
This is a great introduction into the world of astrophysics for the lay person. It's funny and engaging in a way you couldn't imagine a book about astrophysics being (without reading this book). How did it all begin and where are we going are just some of the cosmic quandaries that are tackled. It even has a whole section on how many ways the planet and its life could end! Fun stuff for a nerd like me. Plus, it touches on many other science/culture conundrums that are great food for thought.

Michael Flanagan
Oct 29, 2013 Michael Flanagan rated it really liked it
Shelves: science
Learning about the space has never been such fun. The author's enthusiasm for all things cosmic comes shining through in this book. As a person that has a passing interest in black holes, quasar and other stuff like that. This book provides a great crash course in all things spacey. I now feel a little bit smarter but I am also now in awe of the scientist t past and present that seek to unravel the secrets of our universe.

The book is cut up nicely into sections dealing with individual subjects.
Eder Sanchez
Nov 12, 2014 Eder Sanchez rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Es uno de los libros más hermosos que he leído, ¿qué podría ser mejor que entender de dónde venimos? Neil escribe de una manera increíble, siempre te mantiene entretenido y te ayuda a comprender conceptos tan complejos como el estado cuántico.

Este libro debería ser lectura obligatoria* en todas las preparatorias. Una vez que lo lean, pueden oficialmente saber que están científicamente letrados y difícilmente alguien va a llegar a cambiarles espejos por oro.

Si van a leer una sola de mis recomenda
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The Geek Girls Bo...: March 2015 7 37 Mar 30, 2015 10:37AM  
Science Book Club...: * Death By Black Hole: 22nd July - 5th August. Discussion Thread 12 43 Aug 02, 2014 03:23AM  
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  • Quantum Man: Richard Feynman's Life in Science
  • QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter
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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 about Neil deGrasse Tyson...

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“Not only do we live among the stars, the stars live within us.” 205 likes
“When scientifically investigating the natural world, the only thing worse than a blind believer is a seeing denier.” 118 likes
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