Don't Know Much About The Universe: Everything You Need to Know About the Cosmos but Never Learned Info

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From the ancients who charted the stars, to Jules Verne and
Flash Gordon, to The X-Files, Apollo 13, and
Armageddon, subjects engaging the heavens and outer space have
intrigued people through the ages. And yet so many of us look up at the
night sky and have to admit that we are totally in the dark when it
comes to the most basic facts about the heavens.

Into the void
steps Kenneth C. Davis with the latest addition to his bestselling and
critically acclaimed DON'T KNOW MUCH ABOUT® series.
Don't Know Much About® the Universe is a lively
and readable guide to the discoveries, theories, and real people that
have shaped space exploration, from the beginning of civilization to the
present. Using the now-familiar and popular question-and-answer format
that has appealed to millions of readers, Davis sets his sights on a
subject that has inspired the greatest of fascinations, produced many
popular misconceptions, and ultimately helped shape the course of
history.

From a historical overview of man's preoccupation with
space to a guided tour of our solar system and beyond, Kenneth Davis
seeks, as always, to entertain as he teaches. He looks at issues that go
beyond the bounds of simple "Science 101" and asks the kinds of
questions we may have wanted to ask back in school but didn't have the
nerve.

For example:

Who dug those canals on Mars?
Is a
"blue moon" really blue?
What does astronomy have to do with
astrology?
Will we end with a bang or a whimper?


Average Ratings and Reviews
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Ratings and Reviews From Market


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Reviews for Don't Know Much About The Universe: Everything You Need to Know About the Cosmos but Never Learned:

4

Dec 26, 2008

This series is the local equivalent of the 'Dummies' books, but I do like his style. If you must read predigested history, at least make sure it tastes good! I especially enjoyed the sections about the medieval astronomers, particularly Descartes and Tycho Brahe.
4

Sep 17, 2012

I really enjoyed it, but it is already dated material. They should do an updated version like they did with DKMA history.
4

May 25, 2010

A very good nuts-and-bolts review of knowledge about the universe to the date of publishing, put in an enjoyable narrative.
4

Sep 23, 2011

This is a really accessible, amusing book for people who want to know more about the cosmos but do not have a strong backing in physics. I like Davis's simple way of treating complex subjects.
3

Jun 29, 2008

eh, i liked it enough but soon tired of the format. I am very interested in this topic and took away some good stuff but overall it has not kept me coming back like Colours or Code...
0

Aug 26, 2012

For some reason, the question & answer format really, really didn't work for me, and I just gave up on it.
4

Jan 21, 2016

Good for learning/teaching space science not having taken any astronomy courses in college.
0

Apr 18, 2012

because it's astronomy, this book is long out of date and not info is valid...good book though
4

May 24, 2010

Now I know much about the universe. And, golly, we are insignificant.
1

Apr 14, 2008

a more appropriate title - "What is a universe?" Elementary read.
4

May 31, 2012

Typical Davis compilation, and he strays from the cool stuff from time to time, but there so much information in here that at least you don't feel like you're drowning in it!
3

May 14, 2011

It was a little outdated (published early 2001, I think), but other than that, not bad. I did catch some mistakes here and there, and not just of the "know we know more" variety, but not really enough for me to tell anyone not to bother.
4

Jun 09, 2007

Fun, quick overview of the topic. He is neither as in-depth as Timothy Ferris in Coming of Age in the Milky Way and The Red Shift, nor as glib as any number of quickie guides to the history of cosmology. He is just right. And that says a lot.
2

Nov 03, 2017

I picked this up after reading the accessible and interesting Don't Know Much about History: Everything You Need to Know about American History But Never Learned. Davis's approach in both is light and mostly surface-level, focusing on breadth over depth. The approach still worked reasonably well for astronomy, in that there's a lot of interesting history and basic conceptual information, but the problem is that it's so much easier for astronomy to be dated.

A 15-year-old U.S. history book still I picked this up after reading the accessible and interesting Don't Know Much about History: Everything You Need to Know about American History But Never Learned. Davis's approach in both is light and mostly surface-level, focusing on breadth over depth. The approach still worked reasonably well for astronomy, in that there's a lot of interesting history and basic conceptual information, but the problem is that it's so much easier for astronomy to be dated.

A 15-year-old U.S. history book still has 95% of the same content that a current history book would have. But 15 years in astronomy is enough to miss most of the lifespan of the International Space Station, multiple Mars rovers, tons of interesting information about the Jovian moons, oodles of Earth-like planets around other stars, gravitational waves, and the burgeoning private space travel industry typified by Space X. Every so often, he'd remark on the exciting things happening in astronomy and space travel, which was just as true then as now. But unfortunately, a breadth-focused book tends to date much more quickly if the topic is as constantly-changing as astronomy.

Also, it's hard to take on the subject of the cosmos without conveying in some way how literally awesome and wonderful it is. And while he tries here and there, it's hard to do when he takes breaks for dated quips every few pages. It probably doesn't help that my bar as a reader was set pretty high on the awe and wonder spectrum by reading Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space as my first foray into astronomy.

With all that said, this was interesting if you'd like a quick primer on much of big picture astronomy and history of astronomical thought. But I'd probably wait for a new edition to get a good idea of the really exciting information being discovered all the time. ...more
3

Jul 05, 2012

It was a good informative read. Lots of great info you might not have known before. The author is fairly entertaining when presenting dry info except for the history of the space race which wasn't terribly long. That was the only part I felt he could have done better with. I am looking forward to tackling another of his books soon!
5

Sep 23, 2007

As with most of the books in Kenneth C. Davis' Don't Know Much series, Don't Know Much About the Universe lays out all the things we may not have learned in school, may have forgotten, may have changed since we were kids or just didn't make it into the curriculum. It's an excellent series, and this edition, that outlines everything from the discovery of the first planet to modern developments in quantum mechanics, lives up to the legacy of Davis' previous work. A witty, easy-to-read book that As with most of the books in Kenneth C. Davis' Don't Know Much series, Don't Know Much About the Universe lays out all the things we may not have learned in school, may have forgotten, may have changed since we were kids or just didn't make it into the curriculum. It's an excellent series, and this edition, that outlines everything from the discovery of the first planet to modern developments in quantum mechanics, lives up to the legacy of Davis' previous work. A witty, easy-to-read book that can be read cover to cover or randomly. A perfect reference guide.

NC ...more
3

Jul 19, 2012

I've never looked at the printed version, so I'm sure the "Voices from the Universe" sections don't seem as redundant as much as recaps that read as if I wasn't paying attention to what I just read (heard). Facts are spewed willy-nilly, and it can be a bit overwhelming listening to (or reading) the lists that go on and ondates, names, figuresthey get a little boring. A few random facts stood out to me, and I hope to retain enough before I listen again.
It's not a terrible book, but it's a little I've never looked at the printed version, so I'm sure the "Voices from the Universe" sections don't seem as redundant as much as recaps that read as if I wasn't paying attention to what I just read (heard). Facts are spewed willy-nilly, and it can be a bit overwhelming listening to (or reading) the lists that go on and on—dates, names, figures—they get a little boring. A few random facts stood out to me, and I hope to retain enough before I listen again.
It's not a terrible book, but it's a little condescending in its presentation. The "questions" that are answered are pretty elementary, and a few are downright dumb. It also gets a little frustrating when Oliver Wieman (the person reading the book) is mispronouncing so much. Still, it's good for a sweeping background on some of the history of our understanding of the universe. ...more
3

Feb 20, 2011

I felt a bit like I was back in high school listening to a lecture that would "prepare" me for a basic course on astronomy in college. It starts off with a brief introduction to the history of astronomers and their accomplishments which builds and builds until we get to present day NASA. It was interesting but not as in depth on actual facts on the universe as I would've liked. They did touch on black holes and dark matter and fractured starlight but I wanted a more in depth look at those I felt a bit like I was back in high school listening to a lecture that would "prepare" me for a basic course on astronomy in college. It starts off with a brief introduction to the history of astronomers and their accomplishments which builds and builds until we get to present day NASA. It was interesting but not as in depth on actual facts on the universe as I would've liked. They did touch on black holes and dark matter and fractured starlight but I wanted a more in depth look at those things, not 16th century astronomers who get their noses cut off in duels. Ah well. It was basic if a little dated, (Pluto hadn't been officially stripped of its planet status yet). I never took a class on the subject in school but was exposed to it though trips to the planetarium, which I always really loved. I guess I couldn't take *every* subject in school - though I tried! I did enjoy it and if you don't know much about the Universe - it's a good one to check out. ...more
3

Feb 25, 2017

Question-and-answer style book that covers a wide variety of topics on astronomy, cosmology, and space travel. I especially the sections that went into the history and personal stories behind the scientific discoveries.
4

Mar 30, 2019

Good Overview

This book brings new insights to our understating of our solar system and beyond. Written for the lay person. Material is somewhat dated.
1

Sep 18, 2019

Everyone's favorite pseudo-intellectual hack--outside of Malcolm Gladwell and David Brooks--is back to share his misunderstanding of the entire universe with us all!!

3

Aug 10, 2018

Really just a bit of fun. It probably shows better how little we know than how much, and how speculative many of the 'facts' are.

Liked it.
4

Apr 10, 2018

While most of us look up at the night sky and feel totally in the dark when it comes to the basic facts about the universe, Kenneth Davis provides a lively and readable guide to the discoveries, theories and people who have shed light on the mysteries and wonders of the cosmos.
5

Jun 20, 2019

Even after reading another book about the basics of astronomy, I was surprised how much new information I learned from this book. It was written in a very interesting and often humorous way. I appreciated the Christian perspective behind the writing.
5

Jun 07, 2017

Love the audio book. So fascinating. The thought that a scientist in the 1710 could calculate the date wjhen Haileys' coment would come around again (1758) with such accuracy just blows my mind. Also, I had forgotten that men were killed, imprisoned and tortured by the Catholic church for refuting the idea that everything revolved around the Earth.

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