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Death by Black Hole: And Other Cosmic Quandaries

4.10  ·  Rating details ·  25,152 ratings  ·  1,264 reviews
A vibrant collection of essays on the cosmos from the nation's best-known astrophysicist. "One of today's best popularizers of science." —Kirkus 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 e
Paperback, 384 pages
Published September 2nd 2014 by W. W. Norton Company (first published November 1st 2006)
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Kapil Saradhana You can read them in any order.
But if you want , I suggest go for “Astrophysics for people in a hurry” first then read “Death by Black hole”.
Both are …more
You can read them in any order.
But if you want , I suggest go for “Astrophysics for people in a hurry” first then read “Death by Black hole”.
Both are amazing.(less)
This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
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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Start your review of Death by Black Hole: And Other Cosmic Quandaries
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
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
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
B Schrodinger
Jun 23, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Stephanie *Extremely 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
Ahmed R. Rashwan
Feb 29, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So I have a thing for Black Holes, so what?! You knew that already! You didn't? Well now you do.

I have had an obsession with Black Holes for as long as I can remember. It was perhaps one of the first phenomena of the big umbrella of Astronomy and Cosmology that I was introduced to and I immediately fell in love with; I mean what is there not to love. An equal or even grander obsession is awarded of course to the author of this brilliant book.

Of course, as with almost all scientific books, the ti
Yesenia Juarez
Mar 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was much harder than Astrophysics for people in a hurry! I’m glad I have the paperback edition as well because I most definitely will be re-reading this! However, still wonderful and I always enjoy Neil Degrasse Tyson’s sense of humor even though most of the puns went over my head.
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
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.
Feb 04, 2010 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
Mar 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
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
Jan 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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
Chesca (thecrownedpages)
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 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: essays, science
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;
Jose Moa
Jul 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
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 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
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
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
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. ;)
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
Aug 08, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
I love Neil deGrasse Tyson. His humor and straightforwardness were some of the best things about the History Channel documentary, The Universe. And his lectures on YouTube are always extremely inventive, interesting, and entertaining. So when I saw this book on the shelf at my local bookstore, I had to buy it.

I wasn't disappointed.

Ever since I was a child, I've enjoyed learning about the universe. I'll never be an astrophysicist, but it always fascinates me to learn about all that's out there (a
Jan 17, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
May 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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.

Apr 18, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.

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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

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