A science lecturer expands on his favorite astronomy and evolutionary topics.
In this book, Boyce (A Travelers Guide to the Galápagos Islands, 1990) draws on his skills as a tour guide and educator to draw connections between astronomy and natural history. With a wry sense of humor and a broad base of knowledge—along with thorough research, displayed in a substantial bibliography—the author steers readers through navigating the night sky with a telescope, supplies a timeline of astronomical discoveries from the ancient Greeks to the present, follows Charles Darwin to the South Pacific, and explains the mechanics of evolution in detail. The text is illustrated with vivid, full-color images of Earth and the universe, all captured by Boyce. The book is full of opinionated commentary (Tycho Brahe “was a bit of a real life Supernova”; a wormhole theorist “had the best intentions, but so did Peter Benchley when he wrote Jaws”) and packed with a wealth of information, presented with the same showmanship and zeal as one of the author’s lectures. Boyce’s passion for sharing his knowledge of the natural world with others is evident throughout, and if the chapters occasionally run long, it is only because of his boundless energy when imparting scientific nuggets. The author’s idiosyncratic diction, with nonstandard italics (used for proper nouns like “University of Arizona” and “Nobel Prize”) and capitalization (“a recent detection of Gravity Waves from a cataclysmic Black Hole merger that was reported to be 10 times greater than the combined light energy from all the Stars and Galaxies in the Universe”), detracts somewhat from the exuberant prose. And there are a few minor errors (Einstein did not publish in 2005). Despite these limitations, the book is a useful one for science fans, providing coherent and engaging explanations of complex subjects in easy-to-follow language, with a firm foundation in the experience and expertise of a dynamic teacher eager to deliver lessons to an audience.
An enthusiastic guide to learning about the natural world.