BOOKS: Cosmic Queries: Neil DeGrasse Tyson, with James Trefil

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Dean Poling, The Valdosta Daily Times, Ga.
·2 min read
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Mar. 27—Talk about a book that asks the Big Questions.

What questions?

What is our place in the universe?

How old is the universe?

What is the universe made of?

What is life?

Are we alone in the universe?

How did it all begin?

How will it all end?

What does nothing have to do with everything?

Neil DeGrasse Tyson with James Trefil do their best to ask and answer these and other questions in "Cosmic Queries: StarTalk's Guide to Who We Are, How We Got Here, and Where We're Going."

"StarTalk" is a multi-platform talk show playing on radio, TV and as a podcast. Tyson is a popular astrophysicist who is a bestselling author and easily recognizable face and voice on talk shows. Trefil is a physics educator.

They are both well known for making what for many is the incomprehensible into the digestable and understandable.

For example, those aren't just questions listed at the top of the article. They are chapter segments. Each filled with subchapters.

They break down complex ideas with direct language and easy to correlate examples.

An example of such an example comes in the chapter on the composition of the universe.

They compare asking what's the universe made of to what's a library made of? A person could say a library is comprised of brick and mortar and that would be right but answering that it's made of books would also be right.

And those books are comprised of chapters and they break down into pages which are filled with paragraphs, then sentences then words then letters. And if a digital book, the letters are comprised of 0s and 1s.

Oh, yeah, and books are written in different languages.

All under the rules of spelling and grammar ...

"So our question about the basic structure of libraries leads us down a rabbit hole to a picture far more complex than we might have first anticipated or even imagined," Tyson and Trefil write.

"Our search for the basic structure of the universe does the same."

Easy to understand, often fascinating and plenty to think about, "Cosmic Queries" doesn't pretend to have all of the answers and admits it doesn't even know all of the questions but it does provide insight into what humans know about the universe we live in.