Accessory to War: The Unspoken Alliance Between Astrophysics and the Military

Accessory to War: The Unspoken Alliance Between Astrophysics and the Military

In this fascinating foray into the centuries-old relationship between science and military power, acclaimed astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson and writer-researcher Avis Lang examine how the methods and tools of astrophysics have been enlisted in the service of war. "The overlap is strong, and the knowledge flows in both directions," say the authors, because astrophysicist...

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Title:Accessory to War: The Unspoken Alliance Between Astrophysics and the Military
Author:Neil deGrasse Tyson
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Edition Language:English

Accessory to War: The Unspoken Alliance Between Astrophysics and the Military Reviews

  • Jon Stone

    I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. For anyone interested in the linkage between the missions of science and warfighting, this book is for you. I feel like I can tell the pages written by Dr. Tyson, and those written by Avis Lang. That may sound negative, but it’s not. I think the humor and perspective of Dr. Tyson comes through more with the contrast. Anyone interested in the early days of space (both military and civil) should give this a r

    I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. For anyone interested in the linkage between the missions of science and warfighting, this book is for you. I feel like I can tell the pages written by Dr. Tyson, and those written by Avis Lang. That may sound negative, but it’s not. I think the humor and perspective of Dr. Tyson comes through more with the contrast. Anyone interested in the early days of space (both military and civil) should give this a read for a sort of intro to the subject. That aside, the book doesn’t paint a poignant picture of the military as I expected. It’s not pro-war, and not 100% anti-military either. Unless you are Aunt Melissa, that is. Overall a good read that I felt compelled to read whenever I had time to do so. Will buy this when out in paperback to have at home for sure.

  • Cathy Hodge

    Wow, text-book level amount of history about scientific innovations and military advancements. Space, data, and the new "High-ground." I liked how this book had global information and did NOT just focus on American history and American scientific research. It was a bit like learning how sausage is made...… not pleasant to see the political machine at work... but necessary to get the research off the ground. What will be next on the great frontier?

  • Roger Smitter

    This book needs to be read by every congressperson and their advisors as well as every college faculty member. At the same time, every college/university physicist should read explain this book to every social science and humanities faculty member.

    deGrasse Tyson challenges us — in a very accessible way — to understand how humans have made war increasingly dangerous not just for the combatants but also the rest of us. He tells us how war has also been connected to the tools of physics. He doesn’

    This book needs to be read by every congressperson and their advisors as well as every college faculty member. At the same time, every college/university physicist should read explain this book to every social science and humanities faculty member.

    deGrasse Tyson challenges us — in a very accessible way — to understand how humans have made war increasingly dangerous not just for the combatants but also the rest of us. He tells us how war has also been connected to the tools of physics. He doesn’t preach. He simply reminds us that war and physics have been connected for centuries.

    In the Prologue, the author challenges the theme that physicists do much more than simply make a weapon. He challenges all of us to be aware of the power of physics. Early in the book, he challenges the assumption that history must be destiny. He reminds us of what President Eisenhower warning about the “military-industrial” complex.

    He also takes us back in history—all he way back to the Romans and the use of tools of war that were created based on what humans knew about physics. His theme tis that the physics is always getting more powerful. The discoveries of physics led to more dangerous wars.

    About one-third of the way through the book, the author pulls out the often used phrase about the use of science: “What separates great scientists from ordinary scientists is not the capacity to answer the right question. It’s the capacity to ask the right question....”. P. 166. It’s clear that deGrasse Tyson is convinced that physicists must be aware of what their discoveries can do to humanity and the planet.

    After some more history he reminds us of the famous dictums concerning the nature of war: it is the continuation of policy by other means.” What is most powerful about the book is that the author takes another step: that “war and weapons can also be considered as problems of physics.” P. 240.

  • Peter Mcloughlin

    Armies and Navies and militaries, in general, have depended on science for most of history. Astronomy is no exception. The symbiosis between Astronomy comes in the form of navigation technologies and sensing and detection. Be it navigating by the stars, using a telescope to survey a landscape on the grounds or the heavens, or using light unseen by ordinary eyes to peer into the skies or detect a foe. Tyson goes over the many intersections between astronomy and warfare. Goes to show that almost a

    Armies and Navies and militaries, in general, have depended on science for most of history. Astronomy is no exception. The symbiosis between Astronomy comes in the form of navigation technologies and sensing and detection. Be it navigating by the stars, using a telescope to survey a landscape on the grounds or the heavens, or using light unseen by ordinary eyes to peer into the skies or detect a foe. Tyson goes over the many intersections between astronomy and warfare. Goes to show that almost anything is dual use in this world.

  • Amanda Van Parys

    I enjoyed this book and I'm still confused as to why the title is "The Unspoken Alliance Between Astrophysics and the Military" when it was more like "Space and the Military." Overall, I can see the relationship, but specifically, I mostly didn't see the relationship because it felt like astrophysics itself was barely explained. However, I am not an astrophysicist and possess a bare minimum of scientific knowledge and in all honesty I'm operating at about 3% of the brain capacity of Neil deGrass

    I enjoyed this book and I'm still confused as to why the title is "The Unspoken Alliance Between Astrophysics and the Military" when it was more like "Space and the Military." Overall, I can see the relationship, but specifically, I mostly didn't see the relationship because it felt like astrophysics itself was barely explained. However, I am not an astrophysicist and possess a bare minimum of scientific knowledge and in all honesty I'm operating at about 3% of the brain capacity of Neil deGrasse Tyson, so ...

    Otherwise, this was an interesting book, and timely, considering it was released hot on the heels of the whole Space Force farce. However, after reading this book (and before reading it also), I'm not convinced Space Force is a

    idea, per se, it just seems more like a bloated bid for

    American Superiority rather than a legitimate and respectable enterprise under our current president. The creation of an American Space Force would have to proceed with a sensitivity that Trump simply cannot muster.

    As dependent as we are on space (all that stuff floating around up there is important), there needs to be some sort of protection. But to what extent should that protection extend? Should we strive for a peaceful, cooperative space or defensive space? It's hard to say since we--as citizens of Earth and also its countries--rely so heavily societally and militarily on our space assets. Accessory to War doesn't provide the answers to militarized space, but it does offer a lot of thoughts, ideas, and repercussions to digest.

  • Sirius Scientist

    A detailed account of the impact of specific sciences on military advancement and the resulting outcomes. Heavy on the military angle--for those who think this is going to be another popular physics book. This is not a deep dive into the theory of various physics and engineering disciplines, but instead a meshing of where funding comes from, politics, how projects are prioritized, what this prioritization does to science advancement on the global scale, how current events shape the ideals of the

    A detailed account of the impact of specific sciences on military advancement and the resulting outcomes. Heavy on the military angle--for those who think this is going to be another popular physics book. This is not a deep dive into the theory of various physics and engineering disciplines, but instead a meshing of where funding comes from, politics, how projects are prioritized, what this prioritization does to science advancement on the global scale, how current events shape the ideals of the next generation of scientists, and how discovery builds overtime.

    I'm too young to remember the anti-war sentiments that surrounded Vietnam, which so greatly impacted Neil, but some of my earliest memories of school are also the result of politics at the time. I remember having special drills during the cold war. Filing out into the hallways with my 5 or 6 year old classmates to line against the specially painted marks in the hall with our hands over our heads, or alarms sounding and getting under our desks in the same position.

    This is more geared to those readers who enjoy military history and strategy, with a new spin on how the machines of war are developed.

    I listened to this as an audiobook and that is definitely a regret. While it was well done in this format, I kept finding myself wanting to look up some of the specific things he mentioned, but laziness and desire to continue the story prevented this from actually occuring. I was particularly interested in the around the end of WWII and Cold War era. Other areas that were less modern or were just less interesting to me in general it would have been nice to skim instead of slogging through for fear of missing something due to media choice.

    I plan on purchasing the ebook and rereading the sections that were most interesting to me (mainly for the potential references to other source material).

  • Brandon Forsyth

    An alternate (and, arguably, better) title for this could be THE HISTORY OF ASTROPHYSICS FOR PEOPLE IN LESS OF A HURRY, and it's just as fascinating and richly observed as Mr. Degrasse Tyson's slimmer volume from last year. Unfortunately, there's also a very long section in the middle that feels like an exhaustive attempt to find every UN declaration ever made about the use of outer space, and it really bogs down what has, up until that point, been a rollicking adventure through the ages. It's a

    An alternate (and, arguably, better) title for this could be THE HISTORY OF ASTROPHYSICS FOR PEOPLE IN LESS OF A HURRY, and it's just as fascinating and richly observed as Mr. Degrasse Tyson's slimmer volume from last year. Unfortunately, there's also a very long section in the middle that feels like an exhaustive attempt to find every UN declaration ever made about the use of outer space, and it really bogs down what has, up until that point, been a rollicking adventure through the ages. It's a good read, but not one that I think I'll be going back to in the years to come. It is undeniably successful at making you marvel at the universe, though, and there were prolonged sections where I read with wonder at the people and ideas contained within.

  • Jennifer

    expands on this statement by leaps and bounds in his book:

    . With almost 600 pages and nearly 19 hours via audio,

    is a mixture of science, history, education

    expands on this statement by leaps and bounds in his book:

    . With almost 600 pages and nearly 19 hours via audio,

    is a mixture of science, history, education, and thought-provoking contradictions and perspective. At times fascinating and at other times dry as a bone, I admit to needing several breaks during my reading experience. However, Tyson has a way of helping the common non-scientist, like me, learn about and understand subjects that may feel otherwise quite intimidating.

    Tyson begins this book with emotion and ends on a chapter filled with hope, both which I loved. The lengthy middle may be hit or miss for some but like he says in his first chapter,

    Overall,

    offers an important learning opportunity that should be considered.

  • Bria

    After wading through the pages of medieval history, old rudimentary inventions like longitude, and the CNN opinion-like pages of anger at the American military, you got like five pages on the actual weapons of space and some information about a space war.

    The advertising and naming of this book was a smoke screen. It was 50% venting about how terrible we are as humans because we engage in war and spend money on it (which if you look at history, at least 50% of all nations energy went towards figh

    After wading through the pages of medieval history, old rudimentary inventions like longitude, and the CNN opinion-like pages of anger at the American military, you got like five pages on the actual weapons of space and some information about a space war.

    The advertising and naming of this book was a smoke screen. It was 50% venting about how terrible we are as humans because we engage in war and spend money on it (which if you look at history, at least 50% of all nations energy went towards fighting whether they were hunter/gathers or nations like Egypt. Once you have something, even if it’s a horse or bread, just look at Gengis Khan’s rise to power, someone else will want it) and the second 50% was describing how lucky we are that we spend money on war so we can advance our scientific research and pour more money towards scientists.

    If I wanted to read a book defaming America’s military history, I would. I didn’t want to read that here. I wanted a factual scientific read without snide adjectives and random quotes, sometimes without even names from who said them, siding with the I-hate-America rhetoric.

    I hate hypocrisy. Look Tyson and Lang, if you hate what America is doing, leave. It’s that simple. Take a stand.

    Instead you go on every talk show possible and use America to line your own pockets.

    Its also incredibly naive to think that if we didn’t spend money on our military that we would still be as safe as we are now. There is a reason Americans listen to traffic lights, that the police answer when you call, that you can walk down the street without being bombed. We have never seen war like other countries have.

    After the thirty years war a poem called the Widow was popular. It featured a woman, prematurely aged by war who lost her husband and children and home to it and now begged on the side of the road.

    We have never experienced that horror. So no, Tyson and Lang, I will not be joining you on your military witch hunt.

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