Book Review: Origins – Neil deGrasse Tyson & Donald Goldsmith [TSS]

Title: Origins: Fourteen Billion Years of Cosmic Evolution
Author: Neil deGrasse Tyson & Donald Goldsmith
ISBN: 9780393327588
Pages: 352
Release Date: October 24, 2005
Publisher: W.W. Norton & Co.
Genre: Non-Fiction
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5 out of 5

Summary:

Origins: Fourteen Billion Years of Cosmic Evolutions takes the reader on a journey from the Big Bang to the universe as it exists today.  Tyson & Goldsmith combine different scientific disciplines and approaches to present the reader with a full look at our cosmic origins.

Review:

It’s no secret that I love Neil deGrasse Tyson.  He’s brilliant, funny, and most importantly, one of his passions is to expose people to science.  While I am not a scientist or astrophysicist by any stretch of the imagination, I find the subject matter to be fascinating and love reading books about the cosmos and space in general.  I’ve always found Tyson’s books (Death By Black Hole and Other Cosmic Quandaries and The Pluto Files) to be enjoyable, informative, and accessible, and Origins was no exception.

From the very beginning of Origins, it is very clear that Tyson and Goldsmith know their stuff.  They don’t limit themselves to astrophysics; instead, they use different scientific disciplines in order to give the reader the most complete picture possible.  They also walk a very fine line in this book, and do it incredibly well.  They explain the more difficult terminology and concepts in order to make the book accessible.  At the same time, though, they don’t dumb the ideas down or talk down to the reader.  As a result, there is an incredible amount of information in this book, but it’s all presented in an easily digestible way.

I can’t believe how much I learned from reading Origins, especially considering how enjoyable the experience of reading it was.  Usually, when you are learning this much from a non-fiction book, the automatic assumption is that the book is dry and poorly written.  That’s not the case with Origins.  The style is engaging, and often amusing, and it’s well-written.  It’s clear the authors have a passion for the topics presented within the book, and their enthusiasm is infectious.

Origins is divided into five self-explanatory parts:  The Origin of the Universe, The Origin of Galaxies and Cosmic Structure, The Origin of Stars, The Origin of Planets, and The Origin of Life.  The chapters are relatively short.  The entire book is structured in such a way to make it easy on the reader.  The topics are self-contained, so it’s really easy to put it down after a chapter or two and then come back to it later.

I can’t begin to describe how enjoyable Origins: Fourteen Billion Years of Cosmic Evolution was.  I learned so much from it and thoroughly enjoyed the experience of reading it.  It is probably too complicated for younger readers, but Tyson and Goldsmith make the topic accessible to those who have very little prior knowledge of the subject, but want to learn more about it. 

I was lucky enough to be able to meet and spend some time with Neil deGrasse Tyson a few weeks ago.  He is charming, funny, and very easy to talk to.  So to close this review, here’s a picture of my new best friend and me:

Comments

  1. This sounds like a book I would love! Great review, and lovely picture 🙂

  2. This sounds like a book I would love! Great review, and lovely picture 🙂

  3. I am not even close to being science-y but have always been completely fascinated with this topic. (I would rather go to the Kennedy Space Center than Disney any day!). The cool thing about this book is that it seems to allow the average person to understand it. It is always an added bonus when you have fun reading AND learn something in the process. I want to chase this one down next time I’m at the bookstore.

  4. I am not even close to being science-y but have always been completely fascinated with this topic. (I would rather go to the Kennedy Space Center than Disney any day!). The cool thing about this book is that it seems to allow the average person to understand it. It is always an added bonus when you have fun reading AND learn something in the process. I want to chase this one down next time I’m at the bookstore.

  5. Carl would probably enjoy this, but I have a feeling it would all be way over my head.

  6. Carl would probably enjoy this, but I have a feeling it would all be way over my head.

  7. Have you read Simon Singh’s Big Bang? It’s a very readable history of the Big Bang theory. Like you, I enjoy reading books on this topic despite my extremely non-scientist status.

  8. Have you read Simon Singh’s Big Bang? It’s a very readable history of the Big Bang theory. Like you, I enjoy reading books on this topic despite my extremely non-scientist status.

  9. Great photo!

  10. Great photo!

  11. I love that this book is so accessible! That is a huge thing to me, because I am somewhat of a dunce when it comes to the sciences. I am going to have to try this book. It sounds wonderful! Thanks for the great review!

  12. I love that this book is so accessible! That is a huge thing to me, because I am somewhat of a dunce when it comes to the sciences. I am going to have to try this book. It sounds wonderful! Thanks for the great review!

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