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Death by Black Hole: And Other Cosmic Quandaries

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  20,348 Ratings  ·  1,079 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 clarity and enthusiasm. Bringing together more than forty of Tyson's favorite essays, ?Death by Black Hole? explores a myriad of cosmic topics, from what it would be like to be inside a black ...more
Paperback, 384 pages
Published November 17th 2007 by W. W. Norton Company (first published November 1st 2006)
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Nolan It's basically this; when a large star goes supernova, or when 2 neutron stars collide, a lot of matter is squeezed into an extremely small space. The…moreIt's basically this; when a large star goes supernova, or when 2 neutron stars collide, a lot of matter is squeezed into an extremely small space. The matter that's being forced into this tiny space is called a black hole. Because so much matter is being forced into such a small space, the gravity is extremely high, so not even light can escape. The only way we can see them is through their effect on other things, (i.e a star orbiting around "nothing", which is in fact a black hole).(less)

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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
Apr 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a very fun read for all you science nerds... not only being clear and humorous but wide-ranging and careful to build up a number of those necessary building blocks of knowledge but doing it precisely in order to slam you with the good stuff later.

Like how you'd DIE IN A BLACK HOLE... :)

To belabor the obvious by the title. :)

Seriously, this book gives us a ton of great ways to die and not just by black hole. I really appreciated that. :)

I'd characterize this book as an easy to intermediat
Nov 09, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 01, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
هذا الكتاب الرائع هو عبارة عن مجموعة من المقالات المطولة التي كتبها نيل تايسون خلال الفترة بين ١٩٩٥ و٢٠٠٥. 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،
Dec 30, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Stephanie *Very Stable Genius*
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
Brendon Schrodinger
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
Entertainingly informative, Neil DeGrasse Tyson's Death by Black Hole was exquisitely written by this master storyteller and it took me to places I never thought existed and opened my eyes to the littlest and to the grandest discoveries and mistakes in the field of astrophysics.

Although I enjoyed reading this book, I admit that it was quite overwhelming at some points that it took me almost a year to finish it.

This book, like the facts in it, was indeed baffling in a good way.
Mar 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: popular-science
Another of those books that I think that if I would have read them when I was 15-25 years old , I would have changed my career.

The book is a collection of essays that appeared as a column in the Natural History magazine and are all related with space.

With great talent to simplify things in an interesting way, the author presents various aspects of the knowledge related to space:

The history of the research both from the technological and personal view

The mind boggling size and variety of the univ
Dec 18, 2014 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
Feb 11, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 04, 2007 rated it really liked it
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
There isn't anything particularly advanced in this book, though as it is a collection of essays, perhaps that is expected. It's easy to get into as a result, and Tyson has a good style that stays entertaining while being informative.
Mar 12, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Mar 20, 2015 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
Jose Moa
Jul 18, 2016 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
Mar 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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;
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
Jan 04, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.

Esmerelda Weatherwax
Ok, so you're looking for a science book that's accessible to everyone - you've found it!

Neil goes over some really interesting concepts, but they aren't what I would say for advanced readers. Much like his work on Cosmos, the concepts are simple but entertaining and informative. This is a book you could give to beginners who are just dipping their toes into astronomy, physics and earth space sciences.

Like always, it's written in a warmer tone than say, Dawkins or Hitchens, and is even more ac
Leana M
May 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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. ;)
Apr 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Neil deGrasse Tyson is a wonderful writer, public speaker, and ceaseless defender of the necessity for science as something relevant in our culture and every essay in this book is a love letter to science. Each chapter, each essay explores a different avenue either of late scientific discoveries, personalities of famous scientists, or the role of science in popular culture. Even if you know nothing of science what's amazing about this book is the way Tyson makes the most esoteric or obscure idea ...more
Micaela Alvi
Mar 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
deGrasse Tyson explica todo tipo de cosas relacionadas al espacio y a como nuestro planeta llegó a ser lo que es hoy de tal forma que podes entender absolutamente todo e incluso reirte de vez en cuando. Al utilizar el humor, deja de parecer un libro de texto para la escuela y pasa a ser algo sumamente placentero de leer.

Creo que es uno de los científicos más modernos que hay hoy en dia en cuanto a su forma de expresarse. Si están interesados en conocer más sobre el universo, este hombre y sus l
Sep 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
I honestly don't know what to say. If you want to have your mind-blown, if you want to expand your knowledge of the universe such that astrophysics and philosophy slowly become the only subjects that you ever take an interest in, this is the book for you. Profound, hilarious, and informative, tidily wrapped into one book.

Honestly a life-changer. This book is what cements my decisions on what career to take up.

To summarize, read this if you're into cool space stuff.
Dale Jr.
Sep 26, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 04, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
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  • The Fabric of the Cosmos: Space, Time, and the Texture of Reality
  • The Theory of Almost Everything: The Standard Model, the Unsung Triumph of Modern Physics
  • Strange New Worlds: The Search for Alien Planets and Life Beyond Our Solar System
  • The Day We Found the Universe
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  • Quantum Man: Richard Feynman's Life in Science
  • QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter
  • The Planets
  • Black Holes & Time Warps: Einstein's Outrageous Legacy
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.” 237 likes
“When scientifically investigating the natural world, the only thing worse than a blind believer is a seeing denier.” 133 likes
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