Funny, entertaining, informative Most of the stuff I already knew I used to teach high school science , but I learned a few things, too.My only complaint came on page 16 That makes sense the yolk is really the embryo of the chicken and shouldn t get jostled too much This is not true The embryo only grows if the egg is fertilized, and it starts as a small dot ON the yolk The yolk provides food for the growing chick I guess I need to write a book called Bad Biology What do you think you know about astronomy For example, what causes us to have seasons If you said that it s our distance from the sun sorry, you re wrong Or how about why the sky is blue If you think it s that the sky reflects the sea, nope Wrong again Or perhaps you think that the moon s tidal effect makes people crazy, or that an egg can only stand on end if it s the Vernal Equinox or that an alignment of the planets will cause a terrible buildup of gravity that will kill us all All w What do you think you know about astronomy For example, what causes us to have seasons If you said that it s our distance from the sun sorry, you re wrong Or how about why the sky is blue If you think it s that the sky reflects the sea, nope Wrong again Or perhaps you think that the moon s tidal effect makes people crazy, or that an egg can only stand on end if it s the Vernal Equinox or that an alignment of the planets will cause a terrible buildup of gravity that will kill us all All wrong But you would not be alone For a society as technologically advances as ours and if you re reading this, then chances are good that you live in a technologically advanced society , the general public has a big problem with science People see it as being too hard to understand, or too removed from their daily lives Politicians bemoan the fact that American schoolchildren are falling behind in science, but science funding is almost always on the list of cuts that can be made to save money We love technology, but hate science, and that is a path to certain doom.Of all the sciences, though, astronomy is perhaps the worst understood A lot of people still confuse it with astrology, which is probably a huge part of the problem right there For millennia, we have thought about the planets and stars as celestial things, unknown and unknowable by such base creatures as ourselves It s only in the last hundred years or so that we ve been able to rapidly improve our understanding of the universe, and popular knowledge hasn t caught up with that yet.And so bad misconceptions of astronomy persist in the public imagination.Fortunately, we have people like Phil Plait to set the record straight, and that is indeed what he does in this book.While there are many educators out there who believe that a wrong idea, once implanted, is impossible to eradicate, Plait sees it as a teachable opportunity Take, for example, the commonly held belief that on the Vernal Equinox and only on the Vernal Equinox you can balance an egg on its end Many people believe this, and it s an experiment that s carried out in classrooms around the country every March Teachers tell their students, and the local news media tell their viewers, but no one stops to ask Why Why would this day, of all the days in the year, be so special More importantly, how can we test that assertion Fortunately, that s within the powers of any thinking individual, and it should be the first thing teachers do once they ve finished having fun balancing eggs try and do it again the next day If you can balance an egg on March 30th, or May 22nd or August 12th, or any other day of the year, then you have successfully proven the Equinox Egg Hypothesis wrong Congratulations You re doing science Or perhaps you ve heard the story that you can see starts from the bottom of a well, or a tall smokestack This is because, the idea goes, the restricted amount of light will not wash out the stars so much, giving you a chance to do some daytime astronomy Well, there s an easy way to test this one too, if you have an old factory or something of that nature nearby What you ll discover is that no matter how much you try to restrict your view of the sky, it ll still be washed out and you won t see any stars at all.Onegood one that a lot of people believe the moon is larger in the sky when it s near the horizon than when it s at its zenith Again, this is something that s very easy to test Go out as the full moon is rising, looming large in the sky, and hold up an object at arm s length a pencil is usually recommended Make a note of the moon s apparent size as compared to the eraser Then go out again when the moon is high in the sky and repeat your observation The moon appears to be the same size, no matter how it may look to you.Of course, there s a lot of science into why these things are the way they are The chicken egg thing is because there s no singular force that is only acting on chicken eggs and only doing so on one day of the year which is not even universally regarded as the first day of spring As for the inability to see stars in the daytime, that s because our pesky atmosphere scatters a lot of the light coming from the sun, so light appears to come from everywhere in the sky The only thing you re likely to see in a blue sky is the moon, and MAYBE Venus, if you re really sharp eyed and lucky The Moon Illusion is not well understood, actually It s probably not the brain comparing the moon with objects on the horizon the effect works at sea, too It s probably a combination of competing psychological effects that deal with distance, none of which can accurately deal with how far away the moon is Regardless, all of these things are easily testable by anyone The problem is that so few people take that extra time to actually test them., or even think that they should.There are some myths and misconceptions that take a littleexpertise to explain, such as why tides and eclipses happen, how seasons occur and why the moon goes through phases But these explanations aren t very difficult and are well within the understanding of any intelligent adult Unfortunately, there are a lot of myths that are stubborn, entrenched into the heads of people everywhere and very hard to get out Not the least of these are the belief that UFOs are alien spacecraft and that we never went to the Moon.Interestingly enough, both of these rest on the same basic problem we can t rely on our own brains to accurately interpret the data that we see Plait recounts a story where he was mesmerized by some strange lights in the night sky while watching a 3 AM shuttle launch They seemed to hover in place, making strange noises, and it wasn t until they got much closer that he was able to see them for what they were a group of ducks that were reflecting spotlights off their feathers.Our brains believe things, and interpret the observations to fit those beliefs So when the dust on the moon doesn t behave the way we expect dust to behave, some people believe that to be evidence of fraud, rather than the natural behavior of dust on the moon We are creatures of story, which is why we like conspiracy theories and astrology We want the world to make a kind of narrative sense, so often the first explanation we come up with is a story that sounds good Unfortunately, just because the story sounds good, that doesn t make it true.He also takes a swipe at bad movie science, but in a good natured manner Even he admits that movies arelikely to favor story over science, but there are some common errors that make it into so many science fiction films sound in space, people dodging lasers, deadly asteroid fields these things may be dramatically interesting, but they re all bad science And while it would be annoying and pedantic to pick out every example of how the rules are bent for sci fi Please Why would the aliens come all the way to Earth to steal water when it exists in abundance out in the Kuiper Belt I scoff at your attempt , they do offer an excellent opportunity to teach people about how science works.One of the things I ve always liked about Plait is his obvious enthusiasm for not just astronomy but for science in general Here we have this excellent system to cut through the lies our brains tell us and get closer to knowing what s actually going on Science forces us to question our assumptions, look at things from many points of view, and arrive at a conclusion that best describes the phenomenon we re observing When Plait talks about science, he is not condescending or dry or super intellectual, the way so many people imagine scientists to be He s excited that he gets to use this amazing tool for understanding the universe, and he wants other people to use it.If you re an astronomy buff, like myself, you probably won t learn much new information from this book But hopefully you ll be re invigorated to go out there and look at the world through a scientific, skeptical eye, and you ll be willing to confront these misconceptions when next you come across them Even better, you might start thinking about what else you think you know, and how you can go about testing it Really interesting, and at times pretty funny I really enjoyed this book, and think that Plait did a good job at laying explaining the misconceptions, poking a little fun at them, and then debunking them with good solid science He doesn t claim that science knows everything, but he does show how easy it is to see that some of the things that are believed to be true because they are part of the cultural knowledge like that an egg will only stand on its end on the vernal equinox You could e Really interesting, and at times pretty funny I really enjoyed this book, and think that Plait did a good job at laying explaining the misconceptions, poking a little fun at them, and then debunking them with good solid science He doesn t claim that science knows everything, but he does show how easy it is to see that some of the things that are believed to be true because they are part of the cultural knowledge like that an egg will only stand on its end on the vernal equinox You could easily try it at ANY OTHER TIME and disprove that He goes over quite a lot of topics in the book, from what the Hubble Space Telescope actually is to how sci fi movies and books get things wrong to make themexciting and familiar, to the intricacies of naming things that fall from the sky meteor meteorite and how the phases of the moon work He talks about why we have seasons, and why creationist science isn t And astrology The astrology section was especially funny to me, because I m a cynical skeptic who had to sit next to a star child for about two years at my last job She d tell me about her horoscope and how bad things were happening in the world because whatchamajig was in its 4th equilateral ascendancy or suchlike I d just nod and pretend like what she d said sounded like English I didn t know that there was a Bad Astronomy website until after I d listened to the majority of the book Close to the end, he lists the top 10 mistakes commonly used in sci fi movies set in space or dealing with aliens, etc He also mentioned that he does movie reviews there, which made me wonder whether he had reviewed Gravity, which I watched recently He has not, as of yesterday A shame, I d like to see what he thought of how they did that one And Leviathan Wakes I d like to hear his opinion on those Finally, a word about the reader I thought he was just OK There were some times in the narration that his cadence was a little off, making partial sentence fragments sound like they were their own sentences It was strange And he did accents for some parts of it, like when quoting another astronomer who was English, etc That was weird, too Still, as a whole, it was good, but if I had known I could, I would likely have just read the site If you are familiar with documentaries about the universe, then you most certainly know Phil Plait His enthusiasm and funny way to popularize science made him one of the most beloved astronomers known today At least, he is one of my favorites.This book is no exception like in his TV appearances, he does an excellent job explaining various misconceptions or myths related to our known universe You can also take a look at his blog, and see if it catches yo If you are familiar with documentaries about the universe, then you most certainly know Phil Plait His enthusiasm and funny way to popularize science made him one of the most beloved astronomers known today At least, he is one of my favorites.This book is no exception like in his TV appearances, he does an excellent job explaining various misconceptions or myths related to our known universe You can also take a look at his blog, and see if it catches your interest Or maybe below fragments willIt s too easy to simply accept what you re told This is extraordinarily dangerous If you just assume without thinking critically that someone is right, you may be voting for the wrong politician, or accepting a doctrine that has a bad premise, or buying a used car that might kill you Science is a way of distinguishing good data from bad Practicing science is wonderful It makes you think about things, and thinking is one of the best things you can do Meteors are a major source of bad astronomy When two eighteenth century Yale scientists proposed that meteors were coming from outer space, one wag responded, I wouldeasily believe that two Yankee professors would lie than that stones would fall from heaven That wag was Thomas Jefferson Thankfully, he stuck to other things like founding the University of Virginia my alma mater and running the country, and steered clear of astronomy When you actually do the math, you find that the effect of Jupiter s gravity on the Earth is only about 1 percent of the Moon s Despite the old saying, size doesn t matter distance does Interesting, witty, amusing great read Let s be honest If there was anything in this book that I didn t know, I should be calling UMd and returning my degrees I didn t listen to this book to find out what science astronomy misconceptions I ve been harboring I listened to it to find out what misconceptions are out there Some I ve heard before Some I hadn t I think the most interesting part of a book like this is learning what misconceptions are out there and learning how to respond in a down to Earth manner I enjoyed it. I don t have much to say about this book It s competently done, but I wasn t particularly satisfied with it even though it did cover some misconceptions I didn t realize I held that the Earth s shadow causes the moon s phases, for example.I think my biggest problem was with the book s tone It s extremely conversational, and Plait frequently illustrates his points with metaphors This isn t automatically a problem, but after a while they were so frequent that they started to interrupt the flo I don t have much to say about this book It s competently done, but I wasn t particularly satisfied with it even though it did cover some misconceptions I didn t realize I held that the Earth s shadow causes the moon s phases, for example.I think my biggest problem was with the book s tone It s extremely conversational, and Plait frequently illustrates his points with metaphors This isn t automatically a problem, but after a while they were so frequent that they started to interrupt the flow of the text What I remember most isn t the various mistaken ideas about astronomy, but the description of regolith as being like flour, or that stars twinkle for the same reason that distant blacktops look reflective on hot days The most valuable parts for me were not the dealings with astronomy, but the ruminations on skepticism and the scientific method, and how it s easy for even someone used to looking at things critically to accept something without thought if they aren t careful It certainly reinvigorated my desire to read The Demon Haunted World 3.5 5 STARSA good read.This book cleared few misconceptions and learned a few new things in Astronomy however I felt some of the chapters are tedious and long. Dr Plait created his popular web site to debunk bad astronomy in popular culture This website proved popular, which led to this first book by Plait, that carries on from the website and in a detailed and clear fashion criticises and disproves popular myths and misconceptions relating to astronomy, and promotes science as a means of explaining the skies The work describescommon astronomical fallacies, including the beliefs that the Coriolis effect determines the direction that water drains in a bathtub, and that planetary alignments can cause disaster on Earth The author sharply and convincingly dismisses astrology, creationism, and UFO sightings, and explains the principles behind basic general concepts the Big Bang, why the sky is blue, etc As I read this book, I found myself wondering who it was written for There were occasional snippets of information that I really enjoyed random little factoids I hadn t really thought about before , but most of what I found in here were things I already knew Most of it I learned in elementary school, such as the cause of seasons Since most of the book wasn t news for me, I was pretty bored while I read though I occasionally found myself making note of Oh, that s something to explain to my As I read this book, I found myself wondering who it was written for There were occasional snippets of information that I really enjoyed random little factoids I hadn t really thought about before , but most of what I found in here were things I already knew Most of it I learned in elementary school, such as the cause of seasons Since most of the book wasn t news for me, I was pretty bored while I read though I occasionally found myself making note of Oh, that s something to explain to my kid once he s older I also got annoyed with how much time the author spent dealing with things like the moon landing, creationists, etc Plait went on and on to the point where I had to start skimming The vast majority of Plait s readers already know we landed on the moon It was just too preachy and over the top There were also a few points while I was reading when I d get super excited that Plait was about to cover a given topic unfortunately, even after all his ranting about finishing an experiment or covering all the bases, the one part I really wanted to read about was almost always omitted from whatever it was Plait was describing It was just FAR too frustrating a read this book just wasn t for me Subtitled Misconceptions and Misuses Revealed, from Astrology to the Moon Landing Hoax , this book discusses misconceptions related to astronomy For example, various false explanations to why the sky is blue are talked about The first part is about things like tides, eclipses Then the book moves on to things like astrology and the purported Moon landing hoax There is also a section on bad astronomy in films.Philip Plait is an astronomer who also runs the excellent Bad Astronomy website H Subtitled Misconceptions and Misuses Revealed, from Astrology to the Moon Landing Hoax , this book discusses misconceptions related to astronomy For example, various false explanations to why the sky is blue are talked about The first part is about things like tides, eclipses Then the book moves on to things like astrology and the purported Moon landing hoax There is also a section on bad astronomy in films.Philip Plait is an astronomer who also runs the excellent Bad Astronomy website He has made a name for himself as a rationalist and debunker His casual and easy style defuses any potential animosity in the text He dislikes fraudsters and but he does not speak condescendingly about those who merely misunderstand He also goes out of the way to explain complex physical phenomena in ways that laymen can understand.It s a fun book even if you don t have much interest in astronomy, and I learned quite a bit reading it.http www.books.rosboch.net p 1338