A brilliant and breathtakingly vivid tour of the universe, describing the physics of the dangerous, the deadly, and the scary in the cosmos.
So you’ve fallen in love with space and now you want to see it for yourself, huh? You want to witness the birth of a star, or visit the black hole at the center of our galaxy? You want to know if there are aliens out there, or how to travel through a wormhole? You want the wonders of the universe revealed before your very eyes? Well stop, because all that will probably kill you. From mundane comets in our solar backyard to exotic remnants of the Big Bang, from dying stars to young galaxies, the universe may be beautiful, but it’s treacherous. Through metaphors and straightforward language, it breathes life into astrophysics, unveiling how particles and forces and fields interplay to create the drama in the heavens above us.
"You're not going to make it in space... space is nasty," writes SUNY Stonybrook research professor Paul Sutter (Your Place in the Universe) in the prologue to his wildly entertaining survey of the many materials, objects, and phenomena that can kill anyone who leaves Earth's comparatively safe confines. Those hoping to find a new home on other planets won't find much solace either, due to the sulfuric acid rain on Venus and the dense atmosphere of Jupiter, to name two perils. As for space travel, Sutter identifies asteroids, the magnetic fields of the sun (not to mention the heat), and exploding stars as just a few of the obstacles awaiting would-be explorers. Among the few things readers won't be left worrying about are hostile aliens, since there's no proof that extraterrestrial life, friendly or otherwise, exists. Sutter's tone is suffused with enthusiasm for his topic and with disarming humor (the black hole chapter opens with "Admit it, you skipped right here without reading any of the previous chapters"). Funny and informative, Sutter's gleefully bleak interstellar survey will foster a greater appreciation for humanity's home, and a deeper understanding of space.