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NAMED A BEST BOOK OF 2022 BY PUBLISHERS WEEKLY AND SCIENCENET
NAMED A BEST AUDIOBOOK OF 2022 BY BOOKPAGEAstrophysicist and folklorist Dr. Moiya McTier channels The Milky Way in this approachable and utterly fascinating autobiography of the titular galaxy, detailing what humans have discovered about everything from its formation to its eventual death, and what more there is to learn about this galaxy we call home. After a few billion years of bearing witness to life on Earth, of watching one hundred billion humans go about their day-to-day lives, of feeling unbelievably lonely, and of hearing its own story told by others, The Milky Way would like a chance to speak for itself. All one hundred billion stars and fifty undecillion tons of gas of it. It all began some thirteen billion years ago, when clouds of gas scattered through the universe's primordial plasma just could not keep their metaphorical hands off each other. They succumbed to their gravitational attraction, and the galaxy we know as the Milky Way was born. Since then, the galaxy has watched as dark energy pushed away its first friends, as humans mythologized its name and purpose, and as galactic archaeologists have worked to determine its true age (rude). The Milky Way has absorbed supermassive (an actual technical term) black holes, made enemies of a few galactic neighbors, and mourned the deaths of countless stars. Our home galaxy has even fallen in love. After all this time, the Milky Way finally feels that it's amassed enough experience for the juicy tell-all we've all been waiting for. Its fascinating autobiography recounts the history and future of the universe in accessible but scientific detail, presenting a summary of human astronomical knowledge thus far that is unquestionably out of this world.
- ISBN-13: 9781538754153
- ISBN-10: 1538754150
- Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
- Publish Date: August 2022
- Dimensions: 8.55 x 5.86 x 0.98 inches
- Shipping Weight: 0.81 pounds
- Page Count: 256
Yes, you read the title correctly. This is indeed an autobiography of our galaxy, and yes, it is nonfiction. The Milky Way's debut book—a creative, humorous and enormously entertaining one at that—comes to us earthlings via Dr. Moiya McTier, who studied both mythology and astronomy at Harvard before earning her Ph.D. in astrophysics at Columbia University.
The galaxy begins its life story this way: "Take a look around you, human. What do you see? Actually, don't answer that. Why would I bother listening to you when I know you'll get it wrong?" The Milky Way, it seems, is rather a stuck-up know-it-all. (Superior, omniscient, haughty—perhaps a bit like your cat. As Dr. McTier explains in the acknowledgements, whenever she needed to get into the Milky Way's voice, she would look at her cat, Kosmo.) Although, once you stop to think about things from our galaxy's perspective, it's easy to see why. After all, the Milky Way is more than 13 billion Earth years old and home to more than 100 billion stars. Impressive, to say the least.
And that's just the beginning. In chapters covering its early years, growing pains, constellations and modern myths, the Milky Way details a page-turning life story, full of drama (massive black holes!), major changes (the death of stars!) and tumultuous relationships with neighboring galaxies, such as Andromeda. It is quite adept at explaining complex scientific concepts to us (vastly more ignorant) humans, but the most surprising aspect of this book is that the Milky Way has a buoyant sense of humor, as well as a passion for "inspiring others."
As with any translation from another tongue, readers may marvel at the role of the translator in creating a book that is both informative and truly inspirational. Here, it's clear Dr. McTier has harnessed the sense of marvel she felt as a child, when she imagined the sun and moon as celestial parents who watched over her and talked to her on a regular basis. That childlike wonder, combined with her expertise in mythology and astronomy, makes her the perfect human to assist in telling this story.
At any rate, since the Milky Way took the time to help us all understand more about our universe, it would be only polite to put this highly recommended title at the top of your reading list.