Death by black hole and other cosmic quandaries, a book review

A book review by: Lee Sonogan

(2007) Essays/Space, astrophysics, physics


A book by Neil Degrasse Tyson. The book is a New York Times best seller. With more than 40 of Tysons favourite essays, there’s a lot of interesting information in this book. Names of famous people such as Jon Stewart, Seth MacFarlane and Carl Zimmer all praise this book with good reviews. Without question, this book is very educational. I needed to know it all.

Topics in the book to be keen about:

  1. The big bang
  2. The elements in space
  3. Scientific history from hundred of years ago
  4. Energy, particles, photons
  5. The theory of relativity
  6. Culture and think pieces
  7. Facts, theorys, observations and data
  8. Anti matter and black holes
  9. God, chaos theory and uncertainty
  10. The future and practice methods
  11. Stars and gravitational forces
  12. Alien civilizations
  13. Evolution, logic and change
  14. Much more!

“So you’re made of detritus [from exploded stars]. Get over it. Or better yet, celebrate it. After all, what nobler thought can one cherish than that the universe lives within us all?”
― Neil deGrasse Tyson, Death by Black Hole: And Other Cosmic Quandaries

Originally published in 2007, it has a page count of 384 pages. The publisher was W. W. Norton & company. Buying it in 2017, I bought the newer version of the copy. For references, the book at the end had name and subject indexes. Also, some chapters at the bottom of the page include relevant references and reference dialogue. Some essays/articles have won awards.

Names of each chapter:

  • Prologue: The beginning of science
  • Coming to our senses
  • Our Earth as in heavens
  • Seeing isnt believing
  • The information trap
  • Stick in the mud science
  • Journey from the center of the sun
  • Planet parade
  • Vagabonds of the solar system
  • The five points of  Lagrange
  • Antimatter matters
  • The importance of being constant
  • Speed limits
  • Going ballistic
  • On being dense
  • Over the rainbow
  • Comic windows
  • Colours of the cosmos
  • Cosmic plasma
  • Fire and ice
  • Dust to dust
  • Forged in the stars
  • Send in the clouds
  • Goldilocks and the three planets
  • water, water
  • Living space
  • Life in the universe
  • Our radio bubble
  • Chaos in the solar system
  • Coming attractions
  • Ends of the world
  • Galactic engines
  • Knock-em-dead
  • Death by black hole
  • Things people say
  • Fear of numbers
  • On being baffled
  • Footprints in the sands of science
  • Let there be dark
  • Hollywood nights
  • In the beginning
  • Holy wars
  • The perimeter of ignorance

Overall, the book was great after reading Astrophysics for People in a hurry first. The first half of the book goes deep in the topics of space. Then in the other half, it uses and retells what you have learnt and bases chapters on think pieces and the culture of most space topics. With style and humour, each chapter was easy to understand with information planned out in excellent structure and formation. The worse thing about the book is some paragraphs have information that some people will not like. The last chapter concludes everything by discussing the importance of science as a whole. I recommend this book to anyone who likes or is interested in space. If you’re looking for a science book on the universe, this is the guy to do it.


“There is no question (that) of all civilizations on the planet, science is the weakest in the lands of Islam. The dangers of this weakness cannot be overemphasized since honorable survival of a society depends directly on strength in science and technology in the conditions of te present age,”. – Hassan and Lui 1984, p. 231

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