I think it sucks that being smart isn’t considered cool. (I’m not talking about you book bloggers – obviously you think being smart or bookish is cool.) I think it sucks that science as a whole isn’t more appreciated these days. You’d think that given all the super impressive technology that we have these days, science would be held in the highest esteem. That parents would be urging their kids to get into any kind of science – astronomy, engineering, physics, chemistry… ANYTHING besides more doctors and lawyers and sports stars. But nope. This book was kind of a relief because Neil deGrasse Tyson feels pretty much the same way.
Space Chronicles: Facing the Ultimate Frontier is a collection of articles, interviews, and essays by Tyson about pretty much one subject – the importance of NASA and space exploration. It’s separated into three sections: WHY, HOW, and WHY NOT. Tyson’s enthusiasm for space is infectious. You can’t help but be excited about it. Tyson calls out the NASA skeptics, goes over some of the technology we have today thanks to NASA, talks about why it’s so important that we continue to explore space with humans and with robots, and just so much more.
In all honesty, the format for this book - that it’s a collection of articles and such written over the past fifteen years instead of just a plainly written book – was not my favorite. It led to a lot of repetition on some points, and no sources are cited besides where each article or interview was originally featured. I ended up looking into a few of the things he mentioned myself. For example, did you know that NASA’s budget per tax dollar is one half of one penny? Tyson mentioned that several times, and I did a bit of looking around online and it appears to be accurate. That means that only about $20 of all the federal income tax I paid last year went to NASA’s budget. Their budget is less than 1% of the entire federal budget. That is insanely low.
Tyson goes on to point out that space exploration (and in fact, scientific research in general) is never well-funded by the government until there is a clear military or monetary need. He talks about why space exploration is still so important – for the sake of research, innovation, the economy, and more. He laments that America is falling behind in technology and science now when we were so clearly ahead decades earlier. He discusses the current idiocracy* trend happening now (also called anti-intellectualism), and I nodded along the whole time. And during all of this, he is absolutely brimming with excitement for space, and for those of us who are scientifically curious even if we’re not working in a science-related field.
Let’s face it – I was all for space exploration before I read Tyson’s book. He didn’t need to convince me there. I did however learn more about the history of NASA and why it’s so underfunded right now, and a few other things along the way. So, if any of you are NASA skeptics or don’t have an opinion as of yet, maybe read it and let me know if it swayed you in any way? Either way, read it and we can chat about it!
I feel like this review has been all over the place, and that’s because I basically want to share every little awesome factoid or quote with you and I’m restraining myself, because really- just read it! It’s only about 260 pages. The chapters were relatively short and held my attention, and I enjoyed the “Space Tweets” from his Twitter account sprinkled throughout the book. I highly recommend reading this – there isn’t any scientific lingo or anything that you’ll have to struggle through, I promise. It’s just a really passionate plea from an astrophysicist who wants to see America become a great leader in space exploration again.
Sarah Says: 4.5 stars
*Have any of you seen the movie Idiocracy? It’s awesome.