Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Book Review - Bad Astronomy

When I bought a copy of Bad Astronomy, a book by Philip Plait (PhD), at TAM 2009, I'd already had the book on my to-buy and to-read list for at least a year. After buying it and getting it signed by Phil Plait himself, I returned home from TAM having every intention of reading it as soon as I got home, if not before (plane flights are long and even more boring when you're in the baggage compartment).

It sat on my bookshelf for almost another year until in March, I picked it up and decided I would finally carve out some time to read it. This time, I did, and I managed to read it in less than a week, or roughly 10 hours (So I’m a slow reader, you can stow it, I'm a monkey! It's amazing I can read at all.).

Phil Plait's style of writing is relaxed and witty. He easily exposes and explains a myriad of mistakes people make with regards to science and astronomy, like thinking NASA didn't send astronauts to the moon, to answering questions like why the sky is blue. I confess I accidentally found myself learning some basic astronomy and science, which, given my usual attention span when reading actual textbooks, is no mean feat.

In fact, I move that Bad Astronomy be a recommended text book at secondary schools everywhere, or even primary schools, for that matter. Scratch that. Everyone in the world should read this book. Phil Plait manages to break things down to an easily understandable level, so that people without a background in physics or astronomy* can grasp the core concepts.

The lesson to be learned here is not to let this book collect dust on your shelf. At least, not until after you’ve read it.



* Like yours truly. Though I do have some knowledge of physics. After all, you don't live in trees without coming to some sort of understanding with gravity. She is a harsh mistress.

1 comment:

  1. Gotta say, I like your blog. Dr. Plait linked here due to the review, but I have found myself immensly amused. Thank you!