My Favourite Quotes & Phrases- Astrophysics For People In A Hurry

I just recently finished reading “Astrophysics For People In A Hurry” by Neil DeGrasse Tyson and wrote a review for it here, while I was first planning to include these quotes and phrases in the same post, these were so many,  and so nice, and often humourous, that I thought they deserved a separate post. Plus the great number of important  ones from the last chapter of the book focusing on our duties as an intelligent specie, and as members of the universe whose grandeur makes our ego vanish is worthy of a separate post. So here are the few of my favourite quotes, phrases, and pieces of knowledge from the book. Enjoy! (Make sure you read all of them, I assure you that you won’t regret the time spent at the end of this post.)

“Holy s#%t!”

” ….. Neptune, the outermost planet.†

†No, it’s not Pluto. Get over it.”

“While most branches of science have ascended in this era, the field of astrophysics persistently rises to the top. I think I know why. At one time or another every one of us has looked up at the night sky and wondered: What does it all mean? How does it all work? And, what is my place in the universe?”

“The cosmic perspective reminds us that in space, where there is no air, a flag will not wave–an indication that perhaps flag-waving and space exploration do not mix.”

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

“One thing quarks do have going for them: all their names are simple–something chemists, biologists, and especially geologists seem incapable of achieving when naming their own stuff.”

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

“Without the billion-and-one to a billion imbalance between matter and antimatter, all mass in the universe would have self-annihilated, leaving a cosmos made of photons and nothing else–the ultimate let-there-be-light scenario.”

“A mere sixty-five million years ago (less than two percent of Earth’s past), a ten-trillion-ton asteroid hit what is now the Yucatan Peninsula and obliterated more than seventy percent of Earth’s flora and fauna–including all the famous outsized  dinosaurs.”

“But what if the universe was always there, in a state or condition we have yet to identify–a multiverse, for instance, that continually births universes? Or what if the universe just popped into existence from nothing? Or what if every thing we know and love were just a computer simulation rendered for entertainment by a superintelligent alien species?”

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

“The universality of physical laws derives scientific discovery like nothing else.”

“…. helium became the first and only element in the chemist’s Periodic Table to be discovered some place other than Earth.”

“The day our knowledge of the cosmos ceases to expand, we risk regressing to the childish view that the universe figuratively and literally revolves around us.”

(Speaking about a new unknown, unpredicted element) “Turned out that in space, gaseous nebulae are so rarefied that atoms go long stretches without colliding. Under these conditions, electron can do things within the atoms that had never before been seen in Earth labs. Nebulium was simply the signature of ordinary oxygen doing extraordinary things.”

“Your best hope is to find a way to communicate [with aliens] using the language of science.”

“… the good thing about laws of physics is that they require no law enforcement agencies to maintain them, although I did once own a geeky T-shirt that proclaimed,“OBEY GRAVITY.”” 

“…. after the laws of physics, everything else is an opinion.”

“After I told the waiter that my cocoa had no whipped cream, he asserted I couldn’t see it because it sank to the bottom. But whipped cream has low density, and floats on all liquids that humans consume. So I offered the waiter two possible explanations: either somebody forgot to add the whipped cream to my hot cocoa or the universal laws of physics were different in his restaurant.”

“Cosmologists have plenty of ego. How could you not when your job is to deduce what brought the universe into existence?”

“The Milky Way was engaged in at least one act of cannibalism in the last billion years, when it consumed a dwarf galaxy whose flayed remains can be seen as a stream of stars orbiting the galactic center, beyond the stars of the constellation Sagittarius. The system is called the Sagittarius Dwarf, but should probably have been named Lunch.”

“Absent such curiosity, we are no different than the provincial farmer who expresses no need to venture beyond the country line, because his forty acres meet all his needs. Yet if all our predecessors had felt that way, the farmer would instead be a cave dweller, chasing down his dinner with a stick and a rock”

“…. if telescopes observed mass rather than light, then  our cherished galaxies in clusters would appear as insignificant blips amid a giant spherical blob of gravitational forces.”

“One of the most distant (known) objects in the universe is not a quasar but an ordinary galaxy, whose feeble light has been magnified significantly by the action of an intervening gravitational lens.”

“Turns out if we could boost the Earth’s orbital speed to more than the square root of two (1.4142..) times its current value, our planet would achieve ‘escape velocity,’ and leave the solar system entirely.”

“If you are overweight on Earth, don’t blame dark matter.”

“Other unrelenting skeptics might declare that ‘seeing is believing’–an approach to life that works well in many endeavours, including mechanical engineering, fishing, and perhaps dating. (…). 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,”

(On the cosmological constant turning out to be useful and not the biggest blunder of Einstein) “Yes, Einstein was a badass.” 

(On the fact that universe is expanding, so in the far future, scientists would see nothing outside our planet) “Unless contemporary astrophysicists across the galaxy keep remarkable records and bury an awesome, trillion-year time capsule, postapocaplyptic scientists will know nothing of galaxies–the principle form of organization for matter in our cosmos– and will thus be denied any key pages from the cosmic drama that is our universe.”

“I don’t know how Albert would have felt about this, but an unknown element was discovered in the debris of the first hydrogen bomb test in the Eniwetok atoll in the South Pacific, on November 1, 1952, and was named einsteinium in his honour. I might have named it armageddium instead.”

“Personally I am quite comfortable with chemicals, anywhere in the universe. My favourite stars, as well as my best friends, are all made of them.”

“I don’t know about you, but the planet Saturn pops into my mind with every bite of a hamburger I take.” (On the clearly visible flatness of Saturn’s pole due to higher speeds of rotation)

“… there is a distance in every direction from us where the recession velocity for a galaxy equals the speed of light. At this distance and beyond, light from all luminous objects loses all its energy before reaching us. The universe beyond this spherical ‘edge’ is thus rendered invisible and, as far as we know, unknowable.”

(On the world’s biggest radio telescope ‘FAST’ in China) “If aliens ever give us a call, the Chinese will be the first to know.”

“Anybody who watches too many sci-fi movies knows that gamma rays are bad for you. You might turn green and muscular, or spiderwebs might squirt from your wrists.”

“At the rate that we are discovering meteorites on Earth whose origin is Mars, we conclude that about a thousand tons of Martian rocks rain down on Earth each year. Perhaps the same amount reaches Earth from the Moon.”

“Last I had kept count, there were fifty-six moons among the planets in the solar system. Then I woke up one morning to learn that another dozen had been discovered around Saturn. After that incident, I decided to no longer keep track. All I care about now is whether any of them would be fun places to visit or to study. By some measures, the solar system’s moons are much more fascinating than the planets they orbit.”

“By day, contrary to common wisdom, you probably won’t see the Great Pyramids at Giza, and you certainly won’t see the Great Wall of China.”

“Who gets to celebrate this cosmic view in life? Not the migrant farmworker. Not the sweatshop worker. Certainly not the homeless person rummaging through the trash for food. You need the luxury of time not spent on mere survival. You need to live in a nation whose government values the search to understand humanity’s place in the universe. You need a society in which intellectual pursuit can take you to the frontiers of discovery, and in which news of your discovery can be routinely disseminated. By those meaures, most citizens of industrialized nations do quite well.”

“…I learned in biology class that more bacteria live and work in one centimeter of my colon, than the number of people who have ever existed in the world. That kind of information makes you think twice about who–or what–is actually in charge.”

“Time to get cosmic. There are more stars in the universe than the grains of sand on any beach, more stars than seconds have passed since Earth formed, more stars than words and sounds ever uttered by all the humans who ever lived.”

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

“Today, how easy is it to presume that one universe is all there is. Yet emerging theories in modern cosmology, as well as the continually reaffirmed improbability that anything is unique, require that we remain open to the latest assault on our plea for distinctiveness: the multiverse.”

“The cosmic perspective comes from the frontiers of science, yet it is not solely the provenance of the scientist. It belongs to everyone.”

“One of my artist friends asked me that if aliens from Europa, a moon of Jupiter, were to visit Earth, could we call them ‘Europeans’!

“The cosmic perspective is spiritual–even redemptive–but not religious. Its enables us to grasp, in a same thought, the large and the small. The cosmic perspective opens our minds to extraordinary ideas but does not leave them so open that our brains spill out, making us susceptible to believing anything we’re told.”

“The cosmic perspective finds beauty in the images of planets, moons, stars, and nebulae, but also celebrates the laws of physics that shape them.”

Hope you loved them too! Happy Reading!

-The Cosmogasmic Person.


4 Comments Add yours

  1. Scott Levine says:

    Great stuff. I’m really looking forward to reading that book.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Shantanu says:

      Sure! And do tell me how you liked it. And yes just a reminder when you write the post on astronomy books please tag me in it, so I dont miss it by any chance. Thanks !


  2. Susan Chen says:

    Ahaha! Love these quotes! I definitely have to give the book a read soon.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Shantanu says:

      I highly recommend that! thanks 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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