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Cool, classy, articulate, and brilliant--rarely do all of those adjectives apply at once to an astrophysicist. But Neil de Grasse Tyson is no ordinary scientist; as the director of New York City's Hayden planetarium, his job is to inspire the public with the beauty and grandeur of the universe, just as he was inspired there in his youth. The Sky Is Not the Limit is his memoir of the events leading from his birth to his acceptance of his dream job and beyond, and is a marvelously entertaining look at one man's pursuit of his life's calling. Tyson emphasizes the nurturing roles played by his parents, friends, and teachers, in contrast to the sometimes well-meaning but always disappointing discouragement he experienced from all sides in his quest for his Ph.D.
Of course, it's still shamefully difficult for a black American scientist to merit the same quality of attention as his or her peers, and Tyson's insights into the subtle but still-pervasive racism in academia are enlightening. His description of his own shock at seeing himself on television--a black man sought as an expert on something other than being black--is powerfully moving. But, as with his other books, like the gorgeous One Universe: At Home in the Cosmos, the quest for knowledge is more important than the obstacles, and his spirit, determination, and sense of humor prove that the sky really isn't the limit. --Rob Lightner --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Not many teenagers get to hobnob with the likes of the late Carl Sagan or to go on a luxury cruise liner with the world's leading astrophysicists to observe a solar eclipse off the coast of Africa. But from a young age, Tyson single-mindedly pursued his goal of exploring the universe. Today he is the director of New York City's renowned Hayden Planetarium and is well known from his appearances on the evening news, most recently as a leader of the movement to downgrade Pluto from its status as a planet. In this pleasing memoir, Tyson tells of his early adventures in rooftop observation of the heavens, his sister lugging heavy stuff up to the roof of his Bronx apartment building while he carried his precious telescopes. His insistence on the importance of scientific education shines through in the second half of the book, where he explains esoteric subjects like dark matter and the Big Bang without talking down to readers. Tyson argues passionately for the importance of exploring space, since our planet will one day become uninhabitable. The author doesn't spend much time on aspects of his life unrelated to science, though he gives a powerful account of his escape from his apartment near ground zero on September 11. Tyson's recounting of some of the obstacles and misperceptions that he had to overcome as a young person of color to achieve his goals should inspire and inform young readers. But this graceful and thoughtful memoir will also appeal to adults interested in exploring the heavens. B&w photos.
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