Washington Post favorably reviews my book!

Contributed by
Jan 6, 2009

This is cool news: on page 15 of Sunday's Book World insert, the Washington Post gave my book a really good review! It's online, too. You have to register at the site, but it's free.

Here's an excerpt:

Plait, a popular astronomer and blogger, describes each doomsday scenario with glee -- for instance, how humanity could be roasted by the sun in its red-giant phase, crushed into spaghetti by the gravitational force of a black hole or blasted to smithereens by an incoming asteroid. Yet for all that, his book is strangely comforting. The sun will begin dying about 1.1 billion years from now, but it won't explode (it isn't big enough), nor will most stars in our neighborhood. If aliens were going to come, we would probably have seen them already. The eventual death of the universe is so many years away that it's nearly inconceivable.

That was one of my big points: this stuff is fun to think about, but in reality the odds of anything actually happening to wipe out the Earth are really low.

Plait rolls through these explanations in the same easy way that makes his "Bad Astronomy" blog for Discover magazine so popular. Occasionally the more inquisitive reader might be disappointed by the superficial nature of some of the physics explanations... Nevertheless, the decision to avoid scary equations does render this work comprehensible and engaging for the neophyte.

... which was part of the point. I want this book to have a wide appeal, so calculus might be out! I actually considered an appendix with some math in it, but decided it wasn't necessary for a book like this, and in fact most of the calculations I needed were already done in papers too complex to explain, or from things that are easy to find online.

Anyway, I'm pleased with the review. Almost all the reviews or notes I'm getting back are favorable, in fact, which makes me glad; I would expect some hate mail, but I literally have had none. And I'm still waiting to hear from Two Large Print Venues who were planning on doing a review of the book as well. I'd cross my fingers, but duh.

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