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

THE JEWISH AMERICAN PARADOX: Embracing Choice in a Changing World, by Robert Mnookin. (PublicAffairs, $28.) Mnookin, a Harvard law professor, delivers a methodical, legal brief of a book arguing that for American Judaism to survive it will need to become much more inclusive. THE CHOSEN WARS: How Judaism Became an American Religion, by Steven R. Weisman. (Simon & Schuster, $30.) American Judaism underwent a radical shift in the 19th century, adapting its rituals and its theology alike for an open, modern society. Weisman offers a thorough and fascinating history of these decades, which gave birth to the liberal branches of Judaism and allowed Jews to feel at home and thrive in America. NEWCOMER, by Keigo Higashino. Translated by Giles Murray. (Minotaur, $27.99.) A hyper-observant Tokyo detective solves a vexing puzzle: Who killed a lady who lived alone and had no enemies? HEAVY: An American Memoir, by Kiese Laymon. (Scribner, $26.) This searching account of a 1980s Mississippi boyhood is addressed to the author's mother, a brilliant, demanding and volatile single parent. Laymon candidly probes racism, obesity and sexual violence, but what lingers is his complex portrait of maternal love. THE FERAL DETECTIVE, by Jonathan Lethem. (Ecco/ HarperCollins, $26.99.) A young woman unmoored by the 2016 election embarks on a bizarre adventure in the California desert involving rival gangs, a missing teenager and the feral detective of the title, a private eye with Brillo sideburns. CHURCHILL: Walking With Destiny, by Andrew Roberts. (Viking, $40.) Churchill's extraordinary life was filled with triumph and disaster, adulation and contempt; the task for any historian is to strike a proper balance. Roberts's expansive narrative includes all the necessary details about the man he calls an indispensable figure. It is the best single-volume biography yet written. ACCESSORY TO WAR: The Unspoken Alliance Between Astrophysics and the Military, by Neil deGrasse Tyson and Avis Lang. (Norton, $30.) Tyson, the celebrity astrophysicist, has co-written a serious and thought-provoking book about how the imperatives of war have pushed space exploration forward over the centuries. BEST OF ENEMIES: The Last Great Spy Story of the Cold War, by Gus Russo and Eric Dezenhall. (Twelve, $28.) A C.I.A. agent forms an unlikely friendship with his counterpart in the K.G.B., putting both men in danger. SCRIBE, by Alyson Hagy. (Graywolf, paper, $16.) Set in the wilds of Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains in a future America ravaged by civil war, this incantatory novel draws on Appalachian folk tales to fashion a sensuous allegory about the power of storytelling. The full reviews of these and other recent books are on the web: nytimes.com/books


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