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THE SKY IS NOT THE LIMIT by Neil deGrasse Tyson


Adventures of an Urban Astrophysicist

by Neil deGrasse Tyson

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 2000
ISBN: 0-385-48838-6
Publisher: Doubleday

A brief, engaging, sometimes scintillating ramble around the cosmos with Tyson (Astrophysics/Princeton; dir., Hayden

Planetarium), who shares his perspectives and experiences as an African-American astrophysicist.

From the rooftop of his Bronx apartment building, the nine year-old Tyson could see enough of the night sky to become

curious about it. However, it was only after a trip to the sky theater of the Hayden Planetarium, which portrayed many more stars

than he could see from his rooftop, that he decided to become an astrophysicist. He tells how he purchased a powerful telescope

that enabled him to see the planets close up (including his favorite, Saturn). Later, at an astronomy camp in California, he saw

for the first time "bezillions" of stars in a sky that resembled that of the Planetarium theater. Tyson describes his experiences

as a student at the Bronx High School of Science, Harvard, the University of Texas, and Columbia, makes an eloquent plea for

increased scientific literacy, and reflects wryly on his side career as a commentator on astronomy for national television. He also

depicts the burdens he's borne (and bears even now) as an African-American: routine questionings at the hands of the police, for

instance, and expressions of doubt over his intellectual abilities from strangers (and even colleagues). His conclusion: "You can

be ridden only if your back is bent." He comments entertainingly on physics equations and the scientific method, speculates

ominously on the prospect—nearly certain, to his mind—of cataclysmic collisions between the Earth and high-velocity comets

or asteroids, and ruminates inconclusively on the search for God in the infinitude of space.

An entertaining, disorganized, and inspiring jaunt, the chief value of which is its message to readers: Reach for the stars.