Cover image for Accessory to war : the unspoken alliance between astrophysics and the military / Neil deGrasse Tyson and Avis Lang.
Title:
Accessory to war : the unspoken alliance between astrophysics and the military / Neil deGrasse Tyson and Avis Lang.
ISBN:
9780393064445
Edition:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : W.W. Norton & Company, [2018]

©2018
Physical Description:
xiv, 576 pages ; 25 cm
Contents:
Situational awareness -- A time to kill -- Star power -- Sea power -- Arming the eye -- the ultimate high ground -- Unseen, undetected, unspoken -- Detection stories -- Making war, seeking peace -- Space power -- A time to heal.
Abstract:
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 astrophysicists and military planners care about many of the same things: multi-spectral detection, ranging, tracking, imaging, high ground, nuclear fusion, and access to space. Tyson and Lang call it a "curiously complicit" alliance. "The universe is both the ultimate frontier and the highest of high grounds," they write. "Shared by both space scientists and space warriors, it’s a laboratory for one and a battlefield for the other. The explorer wants to understand it; the soldier wants to dominate it. But without the right technology―which is more or less the same technology for both parties―nobody can get to it, operate in it, scrutinize it, dominate it, or use it to their advantage and someone else’s disadvantage." Spanning early celestial navigation to satellite-enabled warfare, Accessory to War is a richly researched and provocative examination of the intersection of science, technology, industry, and power that will introduce Tyson’s millions of fans to yet another dimension of how the universe has shaped our lives and our world.
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Summary

Summary

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 astrophysicists and military planners care about many of the same things: multi-spectral detection, ranging, tracking, imaging, high ground, nuclear fusion, and access to space. Tyson and Lang call it a "curiously complicit" alliance. "The universe is both the ultimate frontier and the highest of high grounds," they write. "Shared by both space scientists and space warriors, it's a laboratory for one and a battlefield for the other. The explorer wants to understand it; the soldier wants to dominate it. But without the right technology--which is more or less the same technology for both parties--nobody can get to it, operate in it, scrutinize it, dominate it, or use it to their advantage and someone else's disadvantage."Spanning early celestial navigation to satellite-enabled warfare, Accessory to War is a richly researched and provocative examination of the intersection of science, technology, industry, and power that will introduce Tyson's millions of fans to yet another dimension of how the universe has shaped our lives and our world.


Author Notes

Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson was born in New York City on October 5, 1958. Interested in astronomy since he was a child, Tyson gave lectures on the topic at the age of 15. He attended the Bronx High School of Science and was the editor-in-chief for its Physical Science Journal. After earning a B.A. in Physics from Harvard in 1980, Tyson received an M.A. in Astronomy from the University of Texas at Austin in 1983. He earned his Ph.D. in Astrophysics from Columbia in 1991.

Since 1996, Tyson has held the position of Frederick P. Rose Director of the Hayden Planetarium at Manhattan's American Museum of Natural History. In 2001, he was appointed by President George W. Bush to serve on the Commission on the Future of the United States Aerospace Industry. In 2004, Tyson joined the President's Commission on Implementation of United States Space Exploration Policy. He has hosted PBS's television show NOVA scienceNOW since 2006. Tyson can also be seen frequently as a guest on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, The Colbert Report, and Late Night with Conan O'Brien.

Tyson has written many popular books on astronomy, and he began his "Universe" column for Natural History magazine in 1995. In 2009, he published the bestselling book The Pluto Files: The Rise and Fall of America's Favorite Planet to describe the controversy over Pluto's demotion to dwarf planet. His other books include Accessory to War: The Unspoken alliance between astrophysics and the military.

Tyson was recognized in 2004 with the NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal, and Time named him one of the 100 Most Influential People of 2007.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

In this comprehensive history of astrophysics-military collaboration, astrophysicist Tyson (Astrophysics for People in a Hurry) and researcher Lang explore how two causes use similar tools for different ends. Over the centuries, the authors write, scientists and warmakers "have more often been in sync than at odds." Sometimes they're sides of the same coin, as, for instance, "astrophotography and photoreconnaissance differ only in their choice of target." From the first telescopes to present-day satellites, the coevolution of science and war has frequently resulted in valuable inventions, like GPS, "whose value to the U.S. economy will soon be upwards of $100 billion" annually. Tyson's own experience of attending an astrophysics conference in 2003, and realizing how many of the companies present had also contributed to the Iraq invasion, further illustrates the book's point. While acknowledging how science has enabled war, as with the development of the atomic bomb, the authors argue astrophysics can also be a way to peace. Ventures such as mining asteroids for scarce resources, which could "erase a perennial rationale for war," are one possibility. But they caution that "weaponization arrives close on the heels of militarization" in space. Well paced and skillfully written, the narrative seamlessly integrates science lessons, military strategy, and world history-surely suiting military and science buffs alike. (Sept.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


New York Review of Books Review

This land By Dan Barry. (Black Dog & Leventhal, $29.99.) For a decade, from 2007 to 2017, Barry's column for The Times explored everyday life and everyday people in America - from a hairdresser in Vicco, Ky, to the owner of a small oil company in Dixfield, Me. This book collects nearly 100 of his columns, providing a panoramic view of the country as it passed from Bush to Obama to Trump, the fabulous bouvier sisters By Sam Kashner and Nancy Schoenberger. (Harper, $28.99.) A book-length exploration of the complicated sister love between Jackie Kennedy Onassis and Lee Radziwill (née Bouvier) - their shared appreciation for fashion and art, as well as the intense jealousy that characterized their relationship, the art of logic in an illogical world By Eugenia Cheng. (Basic, $27.) Cheng is a mathematician who believes we need to appreciate the value of alogic - emotion, that is - if we want to understand a world filled with irrational behavior. Yet she also thinks smartly applied logic might help address some of our problems. accessory to war By Neil deGrasse Tyson and Avis Lang. (Norton, $30.) The celebrity astrophysicist and a research associate at the Hayden Planetarium examine the ways military branches have used the science of astrophysics to bolster their power. It's an alliance between science and warmaking that has been, Tyson and Lang write, "curiously complicit." the parting gift By Evan Fallenberg. (Other Press, $19.95.) An erotic, mysterious novel set in Israel that takes the form of a letter. The unnamed narrator describes a consuming love affair that threatens his own well-being and that of the man with whom he has fallen in love. "Most of my reading these days is taken up with a book project that I've been working on for more years than I like to contemplate, but on the advice of a friend, I recently read fly girls, by Keith O'Brien. It's probably the most entertaining book I've looked at this year, a slice of Americana that gives us a sideways glimpse into what life was like in the 1920s and '30s, when aviation was a popular spectator sport. O'Brien's subject is a group of pioneering women aviators who, as one of them put it, had to fight for the same right to die as the men. We all know Amelia Earhart, whom O'Brien manages to diminish somewhat as an icon while elevating her as a human being, but she was only one of many courageous, innovative, barrierbusting women who deserve to be remembered. 'Fly Girls' is feminist history of the best kind. It describes individuals who didn't submerge their identities in feminism, but employed feminism to achieve their identities as individuals." BARRY GEWEN, AN EDITOR AT THE BOOK REVIEW, ON WHAT HE'S READING.


Library Journal Review

Popular astrophysicist Tyson (Astrophysics for People in a Hurry) teams up with his long-time editor Lang on this work about the close-knit relationship between the scientific community and the military. Considered an "uneasy alliance" by the authors, it has proven mutually beneficial to both sides since ancient times. Throughout history, battles and wars have been won overwhelmingly by the side possessing the scientific advantage, which has resulted in increased government funding to both fields. This has caused significant damage through horrific weapons, environmental destruction, and death; yet, it has helped advance technological innovations, including telescopes, photography, radio, and mobile phones. Tyson and Lang consider whether we can heal from the damage caused by our warlike past and use our scientific expertise for productive, peaceful means. They suggest cooperative space endeavors for the good of humankind (extracting fresh water from comets, for example) but acknowledge that we may not yet be ready for that level of cooperation. -VERDICT This detailed, well-written, and timely work on an important topic is highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, 3/12/18.]-Dave Pugl, Ela Area P.L., Lake Zurich, IL © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Table of Contents

Prologuep. xiii
Situational Awareness
1 A Time to Killp. 3
2 Star Powerp. 38
3 Sea Powerp. 64
4 Arming the Eyep. 100
The Ultimate High Ground
5 Unseen, Undetected, Unspokenp. 165
6 Detection Storiesp. 209
7 Making War, Seeking Peacep. 234
8 Space Powerp. 317
9 A Time to Healp. 381
Acknowledgmentsp. 405
Notesp. 409
Selected Sourcesp. 535
Indexp. 551