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Starry Messenger

Cosmic Perspectives on Civilization

By Neil deGrasse Tyson

Starry Messenger

From the book:


Starry Messenger is a wake-up call to civilization. People no longer know who or what to trust. We sow hatred of others fueled by what we think is true, or what we want to be true, without regard to what is true. Cultural and political factions battle for the souls of communities and of nations. We’ve lost all sight of what distinguishes facts from opinions. We lob grenades at one another when we could be sharing beers in pubs.

When Galileo Galilei published Sidereus Nuncius in 1610, he brought to Earth cosmic truths that had been waiting since antiquity to descend upon human thought. Galileo’s freshly perfected telescope revealed a universe unlike anything people presumed to be true. Unlike anything people wanted to be true. Unlike anything people dared say was true. Sidereus Nuncius contained his observations of the Sun, Moon, and stars, as well as the planets and the Milky Way. Two fast takeaways from his book: (1) human eyes alone are insufficient to reveal fundamental truths about the operations of nature, (2) Earth is not the center of all motion. It orbits the Sun as just one among the other known planets.

Sidereus Nuncius translates from the Latin to Starry Messenger.

These first-ever cosmic perspectives in our world were ego checks on our self-importance—messages from the stars forcing people to rethink our relationships to one another, to Earth, and to the cosmos. We otherwise risk believing the world revolves around us and our opinions. As an antidote, Starry Messenger offers ways to allocate our emotional and intellectual energies that reconcile with the biology, chemistry, and physics of the known universe. Starry Messenger recasts some of the most discussed and debated topics of our times—war, politics, religion, truth, beauty, gender, race—each an artificial battlefield on the landscape of life, and returns them to the reader in ways that foster accountability and wisdom in the service of civilization. I also intermittently explore how we might appear to space aliens who arrive on Earth with no preconceived notions of who or what we are—or how we should be. They serve as impartial observers of our mysterious ways, as they highlight inconsistencies, hypocrisies, and occasional idiocies in our lives.

Think of Starry Messenger as a trove of insights, informed by the universe and brought to you by the methods and tools of science.

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Publisher details


September 2022

Henry Holt & Company

288 pages