Gesticulating g-strings on fire. The terminal velocity of bodies falling through space. How the universe will end. These are a few of the things lying in wait for those brave enough to read The Sky is Not the Limit, the memoir of America’s greatest living science communicator.
In the past decade, Neil deGrasse Tyson has distinguished himself as a leading public intellectual due to his gift for sharing his brilliant command of scientific knowledge in an approachable way. Whether as interviewee or host of the rebooted Cosmos series, Neil engages his audience like the brilliant friend you always want seated next to you at dinner parties. His memoir does not disappoint. Tyson invites readers on an intimate journey, exploring his thoughts on a diverse range of topics such as the public feud between science and religion, and the use of drones for space exploration. In a chapter aptly titled Dark Matters, Tyson shares his own experiences with racism while making a career as one of a handful of black astrophysicists in the United States.
True to Tyson’s skill as a communicator, he is always fair and open in his treatment of these weighty and controversial topics. And to his credit, his book never loses its sense of fun. Tyson strikes the right balance in his pithy memoir, blending discussion of serious topics with funny anecdotes like how he became a local hero in a small Italian village by performing a small feat of strength.
What makes his memoir great is that Neil’s personality shines throughout his writing. It’s hard not to walk away feeling infected by the same enthusiasm for science that captured his imagination as a boy looking up at the stars in the Brooklyn night sky.
I highly recommend Tyson’s memoir to anyone who is fan of Tyson’s work or is merely curious about the lessons learnt from a life spent understanding how the universe works.
The Sky is Not the Limit: Adventures of an Urban Astrophysicist