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Astrophysics for People in a Hurry

Neil deGrasse Tyson

Top 10 Best Quotes

“The universe is under no obligation to make sense to you. —NDT”

“We are stardust brought to life, then empowered by the universe to figure itself out—and we have only just begun.”

“The power and beauty of physical laws is that they apply everywhere, whether or not you choose to believe in them. In other words, after the laws of physics, everything else is opinion.”

“We do not simply live in this universe. The universe lives within us.”

“People who believe they are ignorant of nothing have neither looked for, nor stumbled upon, the boundary between what is known and unknown in the universe.”

“Looking more closely at Earth’s atmospheric fingerprints, human biomarkers will also include sulfuric, carbonic, and nitric acids, and other components of smog from the burning of fossil fuels. If the curious aliens happen to be socially, culturally, and technologically more advanced than we are, then they will surely interpret these biomarkers as convincing evidence for the absence of intelligent life on Earth.”

“Every cup that passes through a single person and eventually rejoins the world’s water supply holds enough molecules to mix 1,500 of them into every other cup of water in the world. No way around it: some of the water you just drank passed through the kidneys of Socrates, Genghis Khan, and Joan of Arc. How about air? Also vital. A single breathful draws in more air molecules than there are breathfuls of air in Earth’s entire atmosphere. That means some of the air you just breathed passed through the lungs of Napoleon, Beethoven, Lincoln, and Billy the Kid.”

“The gravitational waves of the first detection were generated by a collision of black holes in a galaxy 1.3 billion light-years away, and at a time when Earth was teeming with simple, single-celled organisms. While the ripple moved through space in all directions, Earth would, after another 800 million years, evolve complex life, including flowers and dinosaurs and flying creatures, as well as a branch of vertebrates called mammals. Among the mammals, a sub-branch would evolve frontal lobes and complex thought to accompany them. We call them primates. A single branch of these primates would develop a genetic mutation that allowed speech, and that branch—Homo Sapiens—would invent agriculture and civilization and philosophy and art and science. All in the last ten thousand years. Ultimately, one of its twentieth-century scientists would invent relativity out of his head, and predict the existence of gravitational waves. A century later, technology capable of seeing these waves would finally catch up with the prediction, just days before that gravity wave, which had been traveling for 1.3 billion years, washed over Earth and was detected. Yes, Einstein was a badass.”

“Science is not just about seeing, it’s about measuring, preferably with something that’s not your own eyes, which are inextricably conjoined with the baggage of your brain. That baggage is more often than not a satchel of preconceived ideas, post-conceived notions, and outright bias.”

“For reasons I have yet to understand, many people don’t like chemicals, which might explain the perennial movement to rid foods of them. <...> Personally, I am quite comfortable with chemicals, anywhere in the universe. My favorite stars, as well as my best friends, are all made of them.”

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Book Keywords:

gravity, astrophysics, popular-science, einstein, the-universe, interconnection, science, astronomy, connection, evolution

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