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The Disordered Cosmos: A Journey into Dark Matter, Spacetime, and Dreams Deferred

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From a star theoretical physicist, a journey into the world of particle physics and the cosmos — and a call for a more just practice of science. In The Disordered Cosmos, Dr. Chanda Prescod-Weinstein shares her love for physics, from the Standard Model of Particle Physics and what lies beyond it, to the physics of melanin in skin, to the latest theories of dark matter — all From a star theoretical physicist, a journey into the world of particle physics and the cosmos — and a call for a more just practice of science. In The Disordered Cosmos, Dr. Chanda Prescod-Weinstein shares her love for physics, from the Standard Model of Particle Physics and what lies beyond it, to the physics of melanin in skin, to the latest theories of dark matter — all with a new spin informed by history, politics, and the wisdom of Star Trek. One of the leading physicists of her generation, Dr. Chanda Prescod-Weinstein is also one of fewer than one hundred Black American women to earn a PhD from a department of physics. Her vision of the cosmos is vibrant, buoyantly non-traditional, and grounded in Black feminist traditions. Prescod-Weinstein urges us to recognize how science, like most fields, is rife with racism, sexism, and other dehumanizing systems. She lays out a bold new approach to science and society that begins with the belief that we all have a fundamental right to know and love the night sky. The Disordered Cosmos dreams into existence a world that allows everyone to tap into humanity’s wealth of knowledge about the wonders of the universe.


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From a star theoretical physicist, a journey into the world of particle physics and the cosmos — and a call for a more just practice of science. In The Disordered Cosmos, Dr. Chanda Prescod-Weinstein shares her love for physics, from the Standard Model of Particle Physics and what lies beyond it, to the physics of melanin in skin, to the latest theories of dark matter — all From a star theoretical physicist, a journey into the world of particle physics and the cosmos — and a call for a more just practice of science. In The Disordered Cosmos, Dr. Chanda Prescod-Weinstein shares her love for physics, from the Standard Model of Particle Physics and what lies beyond it, to the physics of melanin in skin, to the latest theories of dark matter — all with a new spin informed by history, politics, and the wisdom of Star Trek. One of the leading physicists of her generation, Dr. Chanda Prescod-Weinstein is also one of fewer than one hundred Black American women to earn a PhD from a department of physics. Her vision of the cosmos is vibrant, buoyantly non-traditional, and grounded in Black feminist traditions. Prescod-Weinstein urges us to recognize how science, like most fields, is rife with racism, sexism, and other dehumanizing systems. She lays out a bold new approach to science and society that begins with the belief that we all have a fundamental right to know and love the night sky. The Disordered Cosmos dreams into existence a world that allows everyone to tap into humanity’s wealth of knowledge about the wonders of the universe.

30 review for The Disordered Cosmos: A Journey into Dark Matter, Spacetime, and Dreams Deferred

  1. 5 out of 5

    Traci at The Stacks

    So I’m terrible at math and science. Absolutely dreadful. This book was really challenging for the first 4 chapters. I didn’t understand much. Then it got REALLY good. The shift from deep physics to the issues and responsibilities of Science was super interesting. I love the ways Prescod-Weinstein thinks about activism, equality, and folks who have been marginalized. I didn’t always get it when it came to science but I got it when it came to the humanity in science.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

    The Disordered Cosmos by Chanda Prescod-Weinstein is an all-encompassing guide to the state of race, gender, and other social issues in science, particularly particle physics. Dr. Prescod-Weinstein split the book into three sections that each focus on a part of her thesis: the science behind physics, spacetime, and particles; race, focusing primarily on Black scientists; and how physics and race intertwine and must be used to better society. There is A LOT going on in this book. Dr. Prescod-Weins The Disordered Cosmos by Chanda Prescod-Weinstein is an all-encompassing guide to the state of race, gender, and other social issues in science, particularly particle physics. Dr. Prescod-Weinstein split the book into three sections that each focus on a part of her thesis: the science behind physics, spacetime, and particles; race, focusing primarily on Black scientists; and how physics and race intertwine and must be used to better society. There is A LOT going on in this book. Dr. Prescod-Weinstein makes a good attempt at explaining astronomy and physics in a way that makes it interesting and easy to comprehend (or as much as one can with such a complicated and broad subject). She keeps the thread of dark matter and the topics that fill her day to day research in mind throughout the book. Anyone who has spent time with scientists knows that this is a hard task since many times science is only applicable to other science to them. However, because of her scientific background, research is referenced a tremendous amount and may sometimes seem too much like an academic paper for someone looking to read the book straight through. The author is also able to connect her science to topics that are especially timely today while introducing concepts that many readers may have little to no experience with. Substantial time is spent explaining the effects of colonialism on science, the effects of science on indigenous people, and how society and science, in particular, has been built on the backs of marginalized groups. Topics like the building of telescopes in Hawaii and the emotional labor that Black academics must perform are discussed in-depth and will hopefully awaken many other scientists to these topics. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants a more nuanced view of race, gender, and other social issues in the world of science. I believe it would especially be beneficial to graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, and faculty in all aspects of academia as it will certainly make them think of the ways that they can improve communication and acknowledge the racial and societal implications of the academy. I gave this book 4/5 stars because it's easily one of the most interesting and critical books that I have read this year but it is also a difficult read with a primarily academic tone that takes effort to get through.

  3. 5 out of 5

    April

    This book is largely a session of the author's fascinating musings on everything from science to sociology and race in America. Despite the heavy physics terminology in the first few chapters, it was so well written that I could easily follow most of it. Math is not something that translates easily for me but I'm fascinated by string theory, quantum physics and spacetime. I loved everything about this book. Chanda Prescod-Weinstein refers to herself as a "griot of the universe— a storyteller" an This book is largely a session of the author's fascinating musings on everything from science to sociology and race in America. Despite the heavy physics terminology in the first few chapters, it was so well written that I could easily follow most of it. Math is not something that translates easily for me but I'm fascinated by string theory, quantum physics and spacetime. I loved everything about this book. Chanda Prescod-Weinstein refers to herself as a "griot of the universe— a storyteller" and she certainly is. This book will light the fire of inspiration in anyone who reads it. The tradition of racism among scientists is a topic not typically broached but an important discussion to have. Thank you so much for allowing me to review this.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Lena

    She shouts out Librarians and STAR TREK which is reason enough in my eyes to give Disordered Cosmos 1 million-billion-fafillion stars. Why doesn't Goodreads have that option? Reading the first few chapters was like being in somebody's Uni. classroom, although, maybe it's more fitting switch out classroom for planetarium? What I mean is, even as I struggled a bit with the language, P-W gives me a very clear picture of how dope the universe is. I do not understand Physics. Sure, I dipped my toenai She shouts out Librarians and STAR TREK which is reason enough in my eyes to give Disordered Cosmos 1 million-billion-fafillion stars. Why doesn't Goodreads have that option? Reading the first few chapters was like being in somebody's Uni. classroom, although, maybe it's more fitting switch out classroom for planetarium? What I mean is, even as I struggled a bit with the language, P-W gives me a very clear picture of how dope the universe is. I do not understand Physics. Sure, I dipped my toenail in thanks to Nicola Yoon (The Sun Is Also A Star), Neil DeGrasse Tyson (Astrophysics For People In A Hurry), and Carlo Rovelli (Seven Brief Lessons on Physics) but I ain't finna front like I don't need a tutor. Luckily for me, P-W's excitement about physics along with the way she shines a light on white supremacy's role in the erasure of non-white contributions to science, which have direct links to many of the social problems [climate change, anti-black racism, sexism/misogynoir] we face now kept me rapt and mad as hell.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Bethany

    This was a DNF for me. I'm reviewing it because I think there is a great audience for this book, but I am not it. Chanda is one of the most interesting humans and the writing is lovely. This is a science book, not a lay people's science book. The story is really important and I want people to read it. If you took upper elective science courses in college and have a higher level understanding of chemistry, physics, and the universe as a whole: this is a book for you. The intersection of race brou This was a DNF for me. I'm reviewing it because I think there is a great audience for this book, but I am not it. Chanda is one of the most interesting humans and the writing is lovely. This is a science book, not a lay people's science book. The story is really important and I want people to read it. If you took upper elective science courses in college and have a higher level understanding of chemistry, physics, and the universe as a whole: this is a book for you. The intersection of race brought in, historically and from the author's personal experience is something I never would have thought about and for me, that's why this book is so important. I think for many people who have strong science backgrounds this will be a 5 star read.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Doreen

    3/12/2021 3.5 stars for the back half, 2.5 for the dire front. Full review tk at TheFrumiousConsortium.net. 3/12/2021 I want to like popular science, and am always pleasantly surprised on the rare occasions I do. I think that, to a large extent, my reading habits in this have been shaped by being a good textbook student. When I'm presented with nonfiction, I like to have things laid out to me systematically (as good textbooks will do!) in bite-sized pieces, layered on to one another. In college, 3/12/2021 3.5 stars for the back half, 2.5 for the dire front. Full review tk at TheFrumiousConsortium.net. 3/12/2021 I want to like popular science, and am always pleasantly surprised on the rare occasions I do. I think that, to a large extent, my reading habits in this have been shaped by being a good textbook student. When I'm presented with nonfiction, I like to have things laid out to me systematically (as good textbooks will do!) in bite-sized pieces, layered on to one another. In college, I developed an interest in quantum physics, but since my college didn't offer those classes, I borrowed library textbooks on the subject (idk why my school had them, considering) and thoroughly enjoyed those. Physics, in general, was my favorite science, from high school and beyond. So it's always been weird to me that I'd pick up seminal pop science texts from Stephen Hawking and Carl Sagan and the like and be, frankly, bored. I'd read the first chapter or two and just find myself utterly mystified and annoyed. So Chanda Prescod-Weinstein is in good company when I say that I found the first 4-6 chapters of her book a struggle. As she herself admits later on in The Disordered Cosmos, writing about science for a lay audience is hard. She's got a ton of enthusiasm and a ton of knowledge, but trying to break that down into pieces for readers who don't have at least a working knowledge of the subject is a tough task, and one I don't feel she accomplishes. But this isn't meant to be a textbook -- and that's a good thing, because I had occasional quibbles with her scientific philosophies, which at one point directly contradict themselves (more on that further down.) What it is meant to be is an exploration of what it's like to be a minority in a supposedly highly rational field, and to be continually confronted with all the ways this so-called rationality is really just systemic white supremacy. The back 60% of the book is essentially a sociology of science text, and is really engaging and brutally frank as Dr Prescod-Weinstein discusses her experiences as a Black Jewish agender queer woman in the field of particle physics. She talks about race and radical politics, solidarity with labor and Indigenous peoples, rape and sexism, and her hopes for a society that encourages everyone to learn -- and not just by providing aspirational models but by actually giving people the security with which to choose the pursuit of knowledge instead of needing to divert all that energy into mere survival -- with both fire and finesse. Reading TDC makes you wonder why her politics are considered radical when anyone with an ounce of common sense can see that they embody doing the right thing for humanity in general. "But who's going to pay for it?" moan the trolls and the ignorant and the entrenched interests. Well, once we properly tax the rich and stop letting the military-industrial complex use our tax dollars as their fun money stashes, we'll be in a good position to fix the fraying social net that's barely supporting America, thereby launching entire generations into scholarship, if that's what they choose to do. That is, however, another of the weaknesses of this book, that it is very American -- understandable tho given that therein lies the bulk of Dr Prescod-Weinstein's experience. It's just weird that she complains about cultural imperialism but defaults to assuming that America is the center of the world, in line with several other inconsistencies that haven't yet been ironed out in her thinking, e.g the difference between scientific fact and the assigning of moral value to them in re: the field of optics; or the complaint that the pursuit of knowledge needs to justify itself (for funding etc.) vs the insistence that science needs to tie itself to social issues. I get what she's trying to say, but I wish she'd done it more clearly so that I'm not left doubtful in assuming that she and I actually are on the same page. Anyway, TDC is fine for pop science (I guess) but it's really great as a critique of the way contemporary American science -- and by extension, contemporary American society -- treats people who aren't able-bodied straight white males. Skim the first few chapters to get to the really good stuff, tho. The Disordered Cosmos: A Journey Into Dark Matter, Spacetime, And Dreams Deferred by Chanda Prescod-Weinstein was published March 9, 2021 by Bold Type Books and is available from all good booksellers, including Bookshop! Want it now? For the Kindle version, click here.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Hilary ☀️

    My love for cosmology first began when I took a seminar as a freshman that explored the intersection of physics and philosophy. Cosmology felt like escapism, an alternate reality. This kind of science, I believed, was absolute — set systems of mathematics and logic defined rules that couldn’t be broken or influenced by any sort of human bias. Of course, as a disabled woman studying STEM, I was aware of ways systems of oppression poisoned seemingly objective science, but cosmology felt different, My love for cosmology first began when I took a seminar as a freshman that explored the intersection of physics and philosophy. Cosmology felt like escapism, an alternate reality. This kind of science, I believed, was absolute — set systems of mathematics and logic defined rules that couldn’t be broken or influenced by any sort of human bias. Of course, as a disabled woman studying STEM, I was aware of ways systems of oppression poisoned seemingly objective science, but cosmology felt different, infallible. Like somehow studying something unthinkingly bigger than us rendered our human bodies and the sometimes monstrous things we do and experience in them invisible. Dr. Chanda Prescod-Weinstein’s THE DISORDERED COSMOS blew me away. A marvelous blend of cosmology, physics, Black feminist theory, and strongly-rooted ideas around decolonization of science, THE DISORDERED COSMOS reminded me that any kind of science can never be extricated from the humans that study it, and that cosmology and the universe can never be discrete from our human celebrations and struggles. Our perceptions of the universe are as much a reflection of those telling its story — and those whose voices are amplified and celebrated rarely include people like Prescod-Weinstein, a Black, disabled, and queer femme balanced on top of a scientific structure shaped from a distinctly white and male worldview. This dissonance between her wonder of the universe and her own struggles against oppression on this earth are laid out in interwoven storylines. In one chapter she geeks out about bosons and fermions and quarks. In another, she ties the violence of her rape in school by a fellow scientist to larger structures of patriarchal power that captures so many unnamed sexual violations within STEM fields (and beyond). Her narrative is intimate in the ways she connects all aspects of who she is — the traumatized, the wonderful, the messiness — to her love for her science. And she expresses this love both in the down-to-earth scientific explanations that went over my head at times and the critiques on how she believes the field can and should be reworked away from colonial and imperialist violence. Thanks to the author, the publisher, and NetGalley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review. This is out in March! Full review: https://medium.com/hilaryreadsbooks/w...

  8. 5 out of 5

    Adrienne Ognibene

    I feel like I should start this review with a confession. I have not taken a formal physics class since my high school Astronomy course in 1999. Thus I will admit the first six chapters were a bit of a struggle for me. I plan to reread them a few times because the thing I loved about every time Dr. Prescod-Weinstein spoke about the nature of the universe was the sheer awe and love she has for her subject. Her writing makes me want to learn more which is the highest compliment I can think of for I feel like I should start this review with a confession. I have not taken a formal physics class since my high school Astronomy course in 1999. Thus I will admit the first six chapters were a bit of a struggle for me. I plan to reread them a few times because the thing I loved about every time Dr. Prescod-Weinstein spoke about the nature of the universe was the sheer awe and love she has for her subject. Her writing makes me want to learn more which is the highest compliment I can think of for scientific writing. Even as she moves into the later chapters and her anger and hope are the more dominant emotions her care for future scientists and her desire for us all to do better shines through and keeps you wanted to learn more. I received this book as a give-away and am reviewing an advanced reader's copy. I do recommend this book for anyone interested in race in the sciences, academic culture, or theoretical physics.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Josh Hedgepeth

    Thank you to NetGalley for a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. Check out my video review: The Disordered Cosmos is probably the best book I have read all year. The book starts focusing on cosmology and particle physics giving a broad background. Then it evolves into being a focused discussion on the author's primary focus of research, one area being Dark Matter. In this way, it works well as a science book. She gives a good background of the science in a way that I thin Thank you to NetGalley for a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. Check out my video review: The Disordered Cosmos is probably the best book I have read all year. The book starts focusing on cosmology and particle physics giving a broad background. Then it evolves into being a focused discussion on the author's primary focus of research, one area being Dark Matter. In this way, it works well as a science book. She gives a good background of the science in a way that I think really helps get the reader interested in what it is she does and the cosmos. This is common in science writings, especially in cosmology. I found her writing as good as, if not better than, many people who write popular cosmology books. I have noticed some reviewers complain because they find this section difficult to get through, but I would urge you not to be turned away because of this. There seems to be this assumption that if you can’t understand everything in a book then it isn’t worth reading. Well, I’ll tell you a little secret: no one understands moderately advanced topics in science their first time exposed to it. It takes time, and part of that process means being willing to get confused. You’re likely to still leave this big with a better appreciation for the science than when you started. If you’re interested in pursuing it further, then you can, and if not, that’s okay too. This is still meant for the average reader. I think what really makes this book shine is when it transitions into being a larger conversation about race in science. She starts with discussion about the science of blackness, for example focus on melanin. She uses ideas in space physics to study blackness to give a new perspective on what it means to be black. The decision to do this is both fascinating and an effective transition from the cosmological discussion to the broad sociological discussions she has in the book. She goes on to discuss life as a scientist. She explores what it means to be a scientist, especially for her as a queer agender black Jewish fem scientist. In doing so, she explores how discrimination and racism has integrated itself into the institutions of science and the process of science itself. Then she goes on to talk about the ways in which it needs to be improved. One of the major ideas she explores is on the interconnectedness of everything. As a physicist, she is able to take this to a quantum level, but it extends far beyond that. Everything we do in science is influenced by the society we live in, including the colonial and racist mindsets within said society. If we do not acknowledge how we interact with our science, then we will continue to do flawed science. Part of that means ostracizing other voices and leading to the low level of scientists who are black or who challenge the traditional gender binary. For those who are interested, there was a recent(ish) paper specifically on this topic in AGU Publications titled, “Double jeopardy in Astronomy and planetary science: women of color face greater risks of gendered and racial harassment,” Clancy et al., 2017. This discusses just how prominent an issue this is within our (the planetary science and astronomy) community. Furthermore, if you are interested in exploring more books on science, gender, and race, I would direct you to the list of books Dr. Chanda Prescod-Weinstein says inspired her in the writing of her book. Now I could go on and on about this book, but I think really the best bet for you is just to pick it up and read it. I recommend it for everyone. While it may be someone esoteric in its science, I think you are seriously depriving yourself if you do not give it a shot. If you decide to pass on it because of the science, you would also be missing out on more nuanced conversation about science, representation, and the black experience in science. Read this book! Check out my vlog reading this: Check out me recommending it:

  10. 4 out of 5

    Gary Beauregard Bottomley

    The author’s ideological beliefs that the world is run by white supremist, ableist, patriarchal enablers and totalitarian colonialist, and that the neo-liberals and moderate Democrats are to blame for not seeing the coming of that Fascist Trump to the White House is the story that the author is telling as a black feminist physicist. They tell their story with no nuance, no shades of gray, and as binary as any archetype could be. (book hint: read Hannah Arendt’s book The Origins of Totalitarianis The author’s ideological beliefs that the world is run by white supremist, ableist, patriarchal enablers and totalitarian colonialist, and that the neo-liberals and moderate Democrats are to blame for not seeing the coming of that Fascist Trump to the White House is the story that the author is telling as a black feminist physicist. They tell their story with no nuance, no shades of gray, and as binary as any archetype could be. (book hint: read Hannah Arendt’s book The Origins of Totalitarianism for why they should not have used the word totalitarian the way they did or at least should have provided an amplification). There was no real physics story that I hadn’t already read elsewhere within this book. I always plead with authors: when writing a book tell me something I don’t already know. As for the grievances laid out by the author against anyone who was part of the tyranny within their ideological beliefs, they used all of the big sounding words appropriately, but that alone doesn’t make for a convincing argument. I had to look up ableist, I didn’t know what it meant. The world sucks. I get defined by my disabilities. I don’t even disagree with the author’s ideological beliefs when I apply context, contrast and relations, but I know that the world sucks and I have to live within the world we are thrown into, and I know that there are shades with nuances and the world is more of a spectrum than it is binary, and that Aristotelian categories (archetypes) are human made and that context, contrast, and relations matter as much as rigorously held ideological beliefs, otherwise we’d all be members of a religious cult, or a cult of grievances as this author wants, or worse yet we’d be a member of a mainstream evangelical religion because that’s what we become if we forget the shades with nuances and that the world is best perceived as a spectrum rather than binary as the author seems to forget. When one has certainty, nothing remains to be discovered. The world we are thrown into is always elusive to me and I don’t have the certainty as the author does that the world is run by white supremist, ableists, patriarchal enablers and totalitarian colonialist as the author affirmatively states. We are thrown into the world that we are born into. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a chance to choose my world. I did want to understand the author’s experiences but unfortunately, they said that story remotely almost as if they were a spectator within their own life, and they were way more interested in describing their world view of their narrow ideological beliefs which they took as certainty since it was truth within their own mind, but not the truth within my mind. This book at best reads as a series of blog posts that have been tied together and only coheres for those who are deep into the cult that they expound. For me, this book was a sludge to get through because the grievances never ended and the author only remotely talked about their experiences, but rather, dwelled on their rigorously held ideological beliefs at the expense of what I thought would have been uniquely held experiences for which I would have been more interested in.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Larissa

    Dr. Prescod-Weinstein is one of my favourite online sources for properly contextualised analysis of science/academia, and I'm happy to have been able to read her important book. Some thoughts, mostly about the first third - the latter two thirds were a great distillation of many of the thoughts she has shared in other writing over the years, but as a result were less novel to me. I have to admit that the sections that focused most directly on (astro)physics stretched the limits of my understandin Dr. Prescod-Weinstein is one of my favourite online sources for properly contextualised analysis of science/academia, and I'm happy to have been able to read her important book. Some thoughts, mostly about the first third - the latter two thirds were a great distillation of many of the thoughts she has shared in other writing over the years, but as a result were less novel to me. I have to admit that the sections that focused most directly on (astro)physics stretched the limits of my understanding somewhat. Mostly, I think, because the level of abstraction doesn't play to my strengths. I can get into the puzzle-solving of "What will this thing do in x situation if it has y properties?" But I find the seemingly untethered nomenclature of elementary particles and having to essentially memorise where each term fits into different models of interaction extremely challenging. For example, I had to laugh reading the line "As you may recall from Chapter 1, quarks are always bound together in mesons and baryons, which together are the hadrons" (p. 74). (I did not recall from Chapter 1.) That being said, the fact that people do understand this and moreover can come up with such insights is incredible and it brings me joy to read about it. It's probably telling that, unlike for the author, Euclidean geometry feels clean and easy to understand to me - and, to be fair, it's also pretty abstract, but it feels at least more tangible. Anyway I'm glad there are folks out there like her who have an innate sensibility for the universe's natural curviness. Perhaps the closest I came to feeling that deep sense of truth fitting together was in the section of Chapter 3 that explores this sentence: "spacetime tells matter how to move, and matter tells spacetime how to curve" (p. 60.) I think the portion of the book that resonated most for me overall though was Chapter 13: Cosmological Dreams Under Totalitarianism, which was among the most successful pieces I've read addressing the problem of scientists' broad inability to contextualise their work within our society. I understand why physicists think of their research as existing on the scientifically "pure" end of the spectrum, and to an extent I agree with them - the abstraction argument is a real one - but unfortunately that seems to result in a particular blindness to the messy consequences of one's work. Stray observations: Loved the anecdote about the first (accidental) measurement of the cosmic microwave background radiation - interference that just wouldn't go away (pp. 75-76) and the super cool fun fact about inflation in the early universe resulting in far-away parts of spacetime that share similar properties (pp. 76-77).

  12. 5 out of 5

    Larry Miller

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I just read the forward and the first chapter and while you'll get no argument from me about marginalization or disenfranchisement and the convoluted and very real consequences of these things, for me they simply exacerbate the already low numbers of women and people of color not only in these fields, but everywhere. That said, what are we interested in as a society? What do we value? I hope it's not what I see on the television. So the big question I anticipate the answer to is how do we get pe I just read the forward and the first chapter and while you'll get no argument from me about marginalization or disenfranchisement and the convoluted and very real consequences of these things, for me they simply exacerbate the already low numbers of women and people of color not only in these fields, but everywhere. That said, what are we interested in as a society? What do we value? I hope it's not what I see on the television. So the big question I anticipate the answer to is how do we get people who do not have a proclivity for the sciences, to the sciences. Then there is our new economy of the side hustle; a symptom of serfdom. Hundreds killing each other in our cities, every day over scraps. The big goal is to create a common sentiment among our people, so they chose on their own to become something bigger, better. And the question arising out of that, is that isn't it the parents responsibility to direct and encourage their children into a chosen field?Things to cogitate about... So after I read it, I'll change my star rating. And for the nay sayers, I enjoy getting out of my lane and looking at old problems in a different way-that-is how stuff gets done

  13. 4 out of 5

    H.

    It really disappoints me that this book is just okay. Dr. Prescod-Weinstein is a skilled writer and some of her ideas about how racism has limited scientific thought are illuminating. Unfortunately, I feel that Disordered Cosmos needed a clearer focus and better editors to help it reach its full potential. Whether or not this is true, it felt like no editor had sat Prescod-Weinstein down and made her think critically about who her audience is. This book was published by a commercial publisher—the It really disappoints me that this book is just okay. Dr. Prescod-Weinstein is a skilled writer and some of her ideas about how racism has limited scientific thought are illuminating. Unfortunately, I feel that Disordered Cosmos needed a clearer focus and better editors to help it reach its full potential. Whether or not this is true, it felt like no editor had sat Prescod-Weinstein down and made her think critically about who her audience is. This book was published by a commercial publisher—there is therefore an assumption that the book is meant for general audiences. However, the quantum mechanics discussed in the first quarter of the book aren’t introduced appropriately for a general audience. I’ve taken university-level chemistry courses that have discussed quantum mechanics, and even with that background I couldn’t have been expected to keep up with the barrage of undefined, specialized scientific terminology. It wasn’t science communication. From the point-of-view of a writer and a teacher, it lacked the basic rules for talking about difficult topics: Break down complex ideas into simple components, define new terminology, introduce one new element of information at a time, and build simpler concepts on top of each other to lead to an understanding of more complex ideas. Literally none of these techniques were followed, and the result was incomprehensible. I see other reviewers excusing this by blaming themselves for being bad at STEM, and that makes me sad, because that’s not how science communication should make anyone feel. It also impacted the discussion about discrimination. For example, I really wanted to fully grasp her point about race and quantum chromodynamics, which I think is one of the most important points in the book. But quantum chromodynamics wasn’t explained well enough for me to be able to explain her point coherently to other people, which is really disappointing. While reading I thought: Maybe this book is meant for grad students only. In which case—that kind of stinks, because she talks so much about the inaccessibility of science that the deliberate inaccessibility of her own book seems hypocritical. But as I continued reading, the text didn’t seem targeted toward the especially well-educated. Confusingly, she takes the time to define what an acronym is (“a set of initials that spells out a word,” she writes), even while earlier she wrote about gravitons, fermions, the Pauli exclusion principle, etc., without defining them. Why was it assumed I already understood the Standard Model of quantum physics but wouldn’t know what an acronym was? Later, she explains that GREs are “the graduate school equivalent of the SAT,” which cemented that this book wasn’t written only for the already-educated. Why the total garbled mess of inaccessible science, then? After that first quarter of the book comes a less quantum-intensive discussion of discrimination in STEM. This section felt cluttered. It often had too much breadth and not enough depth. It’s powerful, for example, for a prominent physicist to criticize Elon Musk and his satellites. But she doesn’t tell us anything about this subject that we couldn’t find in a news article. At one point she discusses the limits of Cartesian coordinates and wonders how these rigid planes may have stifled Western scientific thought. Such a tantalizing hypothesis! She brings up the Palikur people of the Amazon, who have a “curvilinear geometric system.” She never explains what this system is, though. It’s clear she doesn’t actually know much about it, because despite everything she is relentlessly U.S.-centric. I was annoyed by the constant U.S.-centrism, a quality I have found most prevalent in people who spend a lot of time of Twitter, which seems to suck users into an americana soapbox. Dr. Prescod-Weinstein is trapped in such a soap box, and the prose frequently collapses into flashy tweetable zingers and repetitive, furious rants. At the same time, she brings up very important points. Her writing was best when it focused on the narrowly personal or the absolutely unique (The physics of melanin???? Amazing???? The idea that we consider “dark matter” to be sinister because of the word dark was another fascinating discussion.). Content warning for assault mention: (view spoiler)[The chapter on assault was harrowing and moving. It cemented in such a deeply personal way what it means to do science in an unequal world: That most white male scientists can be productive because they have not been raped. (hide spoiler)] The effects of inequality are so real, so tangible, and yet so difficult to talk about. I’m so grateful she wrote that chapter. Her discussion about inequality in the Ivy Leagues was also important: Not only did she highlight how shockingly few Black women there are in physics, but she underlined the experience of poor people in academia in ways I related to fiercely but haven’t seen discussed before. For example, why do rich universities deprive their poorest students of the level of financial aid that would allow them to dedicate all their time to studying, not to working parttime jobs? As an undergrad, Dr. Prescod-Weinstein was working while her peers were studying. I worked 30-40 hours a week during most of my undergrad years, in addition to taking fulltime classes. I lived 90 minutes from campus because I couldn’t afford rent closer. This combination meant I couldn’t take courses at certain hours and on certain days, which effectively meant I couldn’t take intensive language courses or science labs. Entire university departments were closed to me because I was poor. And I blamed myself for being poor; it felt natural to accept less than what others got. I never once thought about my university’s role in decreasing the quality of my life in comparison to my wealthier peers. I have a lot more to think about on this subject because of Dr. Prescod-Weinstein. She sums up her experience heartbreakingly well: Rather than foster my aspirations to make a significant contribution to particle physics and cosmology, Harvard had taught me to see myself as a working-class kid from an overpopulated, under-resourced school district who could never win at an upper- (middle-) class man’s game. What does it mean to be a Black woman physicist in America? I was surprised by the degree to which that question applied to me, a white person who majored in East Asian Studies. Dr. Prescod-Weinstein was attracted to science as a girl because she thought it was an escape into an objective world of cosmological wonders, separate from human cruelty. She thought she could be apolitical. I majored in East Asian Studies. It was not until my senior year that I even understood how the department of “East Asian Studies” had come to be. I too had thought I was steered toward my academic discipline because of my own passions and intellectual curiosity. In reality, I too was subconsciously guided toward my major because of war and U.S. foreign policy. Both East Asian Studies and cosmology are linked to the Cold War. As Prescod-Weinstein writes, I thought I was working to change the world, when instead I had consumed incredibly effective intellectual propaganda. Overall, when Dr. Prescod-Weinstein was writing about unique insights in social issues and physics, the ideas were fresh and compelling. Much of the time, though, the tone is inconsistent and seemed catered toward avid Twitter scrollers. A lot of people are going to love this book. I didn’t love it, but it definitely gave me a lot to think about. I promise to research quantum chromodynamics so that I can explain to others why it kind of sucks.

  14. 4 out of 5

    CB_Read

    I'm so glad I followed a whim to buy a new book on Independent Bookstore Day, because it led me to Dr. Chonda Prescod-Weinstein's fierce and challenging work, "The Disordered Cosmos." Equal parts popular science, memoir, and Black feminist theory, this book argues for recognizing and rectifying the severe lack of intersectional practice in the hard sciences, particularly within the cosmology, astronomy, and physics communities. Looking forward, the book also poses exciting and evocative question I'm so glad I followed a whim to buy a new book on Independent Bookstore Day, because it led me to Dr. Chonda Prescod-Weinstein's fierce and challenging work, "The Disordered Cosmos." Equal parts popular science, memoir, and Black feminist theory, this book argues for recognizing and rectifying the severe lack of intersectional practice in the hard sciences, particularly within the cosmology, astronomy, and physics communities. Looking forward, the book also poses exciting and evocative questions for the ways in which science can be practiced in the future--without an overt and complicit reliance on capitalist, colonialist, patriarchal, and militaristic modes of funding and application. Writing from the particular standpoint of a Black queer femme within a scientific field that has a long and nearly unbroken history of white male presence, preference, and privilege, this book taught me and clarified so many aspects of Black feminist science, technology, and society studies (an emergent field that I previously had no knowledge about) that I feel as if a veil has been lifted. The elements of contemporary cosmology and physics research that the author describes will be incredibly exciting for science buffs -- Dr. Prescod-Weinstein's own research is devoted toward alternative theories for the explanation and purpose of dark matter, as well as exploring the driving mechanisms of cosmic acceleration. Although the author uses some odd or clunky metaphors for describing the science, including more than one that focused on her vagina, the author's mode of communicating cutting edge science was very effective and impactful. Part of the mission of this book is to remind Black, Latinx, and Indigenous populations (and, by doing so, alerting many white readers for the first time) of the forgotten history and value of their own cultures' experience and history with cosmology and the practice of science. These are historical traditions that were severed alongside the development of "pure science" in Western civilizations. African, Central and South American, and Middle-Eastern cultures and communities have some of the oldest cosmologies and creation myths in the historical record--a fascination with and understanding of the stars did not originate exclusively in the European minds of the Enlightenment. And yet because the study of the hard sciences in the West emerged through settler colonialism, capitalism, and inextricable racism, any human beings that did not fit the white European model of scientist were barred, discredited, or erased from the scientific historical record. Dr. Prescod-Weinstein illustrates through many historical accounts the extent to which primarily Black men and women have had their contributions to science marginalized or co-opted by white colleagues or researchers in the field. The reasons for this concern the intersections of Black bodies: race, gender, and social class almost certainly guaranteed that these "hidden figures" would be purposefully lost to history. The author does an excellent job at showcasing these many instances, as well as presenting a clear case for why this history of marginalization needs to be identified and corrected--not in the near future, but right now. I really appreciated the author's multi-faceted approach to explaining the personal importance of her successful career--in her journey through academia she holds a number of "firsts"--but also the intrinsic value of her work. The ability to look up at the night sky and be fascinated by the stars is a birth right for all people, as all cultures began with their own cosmological creation myths. But when we talk about how "we" deserve the right to know about our origins and have a role in developing our collective future, who counts as part of "us?" Not only creating a more inclusive environment within the hard sciences, but changing the direction and motivating purpose of cosmological study, as well as the practice of science more broadly, is our duty to future generations. To sum up the excellence and essence of this book, here is an oft-repeated quote from the author's mother that also serves as the book's epigraph: "People need to know that we live in a universe that is bigger than the bad things that are happening to us." In an ordered cosmos, this equation--the vast universe and the dark side of humanity--can be made equal. But in this disordered cosmos of imperfect and striving human beings, we must use our intellect, and our social power, to balance the variables. In this way, we may honor all our galactic relations.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Nancy

    I have very mixed feelings about this book right now and as I was reading it. At times, I was in a hurry to finish thinking it is not "my thing", but parts also made me think about my attitudes and the world. Chandra Prescod-Weinstein is so many things that I am not: a scientist, smart, young, Black, Jewish, agender, and angry. She rails against the white supremist, capitalistic, colonialist, patriarchial society in the US, and other places. I am angry, too, about the misjustice and unjustness I have very mixed feelings about this book right now and as I was reading it. At times, I was in a hurry to finish thinking it is not "my thing", but parts also made me think about my attitudes and the world. Chandra Prescod-Weinstein is so many things that I am not: a scientist, smart, young, Black, Jewish, agender, and angry. She rails against the white supremist, capitalistic, colonialist, patriarchial society in the US, and other places. I am angry, too, about the misjustice and unjustness in the world, but my outlook is that of an older person. In some ways that may make me seem wiser, in others more naive. My path has been one of less resistance, which I sometimes regret. There will always be disrespectful, bad and evil persons in the world. History can't be changed, but it should be acknowledged. Hopefully the awareness and activism of the young will help make the world better. A lot of the science was way above me, though I think that the author explained things well, it was still difficult for me to grasp and I felt like I was just reading words. The personal parts of Prescod-Weinstein's story were more interesting to me, though often so sad. I would not classify The Disordered Cosmos as a memoir, but often the writing seemed to be in that style, which is generally not a favorite for me, kind of comes off as rambling, and, yes, disordered. I could relate to the scientific housework chapter. Though I worked in a different field, even at higher level positions, I often found myself, or other women, stuck with the "housekeeping duties" that exist in all fields. My son bought this book for me and told me that he also wants to read it. I wonder if he is trying to send me a message, and what that message might be? "My point here is not to demonize the figure of the white woman in astronomy, but rather to complicate the idea that because white women are victims of patriarchy that they are not also sometimes perpetrators of white supremacy, with implications for people of color in the sciences." (146) "Almost everyone who gets a PhD in physics must eventually take a job outside of academia. There are simply not enough positions for everyone. Getting a faculty position at all is a big deal, even for white men." (153) "Our academic and economic structures are set up with capitalistic incentives to keep it to yourself when you realize something is wrong and to favor quick, superficial work over work that requires deep, plodding thought. Those who get a little power within these structures are rewarded for their silence." (159) "The idea that some information is more suspicious because of who provides it is incredibly dangerous when the evaluation is based on ascribed identies." (172) "Who gets hurt when someone is called by a name that is comfortable for them to answer to? Absolutely no one." (176) [Aside: The pronoun thing is uncomfortable to me. Language has rules and I find it jarring to refer to a singular person as "they" or "them". Perhaps we need to come up with non-gendered pronouns, used for everyone. How do other languages, particularly the many that ascribe gender to things, and require agreement in language, handle this?] "I want our existence to be built out of love for a better, different world. The sun has about five billion years left before it destroys Earth, but it's hard to imagine that our species, which has only been around for a couple million years, will last that long." (257)

  16. 4 out of 5

    Geoff

    Dr. Chanda Prescod-Weinstein is my Teacher in the realm of Social Awareness (a term I will use to cover a vast number of subjects that fall under such areas as Social Justice, Racial and Sexual Awareness, etc.) I have never met Dr. Prescod-Weinstein, I have emailed once and had a tweet acknowledged (that and an acknowledgement/response from B.D. Wong are Twitter trophies for me). Dr. Prescod-Weinstein has virtually no idea who I am but Dr. Prescod-Weinstein has been a huge influence on how I hav Dr. Chanda Prescod-Weinstein is my Teacher in the realm of Social Awareness (a term I will use to cover a vast number of subjects that fall under such areas as Social Justice, Racial and Sexual Awareness, etc.) I have never met Dr. Prescod-Weinstein, I have emailed once and had a tweet acknowledged (that and an acknowledgement/response from B.D. Wong are Twitter trophies for me). Dr. Prescod-Weinstein has virtually no idea who I am but Dr. Prescod-Weinstein has been a huge influence on how I have grown with regards to understanding so many realms I have been ignorant for so long about. Dr. Prescod-Weinstein has introduced me to so many articles and authors, lines of thought and realities that I am still trying to comprehend. When Dr. Prescod-Weinstein announced this book last year I was beside myself with excitement and had to have it, pre-ordered and it was everything and more that I could have wanted. This book brilliantly brings to life an abstract look at Dr. Prescod-Weinstein's studies of particle physics making it relatable to those of us that know little about the field and fills us (or at least myself) with wonder and desire to learn more. I can honestly say that recently some of Stephen Hawking’s books were on sale on Amazon and it was this book that inspired me to buy them and I hope to soon read them. Beyond the Physics you will observe an incredible knowledge and understanding of social issues including Dr. Prescod-Weinstein's take on Colonialism and it's affects on science. I have read about this subject previously, mostly in tweets and the odd article but it was this book that really brought home to me an understanding of Colonialism, what it is and how it has negatively affected so much of our lives today. You get from this book an idea of how we, as a community of people who wish to get away from this, may be able to do it. I can go on and on about how great this book is but really, if you want to experience it, if you want to look at subjects like science and your current social state critically the read it. Take what Dr. Prescod-Weinstein gives you in this work and really consider what is stated, research some of the ideas and meditate on them. You will come away a more enlightened person. Definitely follow Dr. Prescod-Weinstein on twitter, I have learned more in the last 3 years about how life really is following Dr. Prescod-Weinstein twitter feed then I had in the all my years leading up to that fateful moment. This book is far above 5 stars on many levels. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to grow as an individual and learn that there is more than just the standard that we are taught...a lot more.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Madeleine Thompson

    Brilliant, moving, and worth reading even for the most science-averse. The first several chapters of "Disordered Cosmos" were very science-heavy and thus a bit of a slog for me, a Certified Idiot. Prescod-Weinstein, an Actual Genius, explains what she does, and talks about quarks and neutrons and "inflation" which is not the same kind as how the national minimum wage isn't a living wage. In a way I could've done without the first few chapters, except that they were very successful at conveying P Brilliant, moving, and worth reading even for the most science-averse. The first several chapters of "Disordered Cosmos" were very science-heavy and thus a bit of a slog for me, a Certified Idiot. Prescod-Weinstein, an Actual Genius, explains what she does, and talks about quarks and neutrons and "inflation" which is not the same kind as how the national minimum wage isn't a living wage. In a way I could've done without the first few chapters, except that they were very successful at conveying Prescod-Weinstein's passion for science, and that becomes a crucial fact in the later chapters. The later chapters flip the script, and instead of focusing on cosmology sprinkled with connections to race, they center the role of race in science. Prescod-Weinstein paints a painful, ugly picture of the way science (especially physics) ignores racial factors and actively bars non-white-cis-abled-bodied men from the pursuit of knowledge they are equally entitled to. This last bit was expertly framed. Often I've heard "diversity and inclusion" advocated for because what if within a marginalized person lies the cure for cancer? Which is another way of saying we should be more inclusive so the marginalized can do more for us. How about instead, we expand our idea of who can be a scientist because every person on Earth should have equal access to wonder, awe and the answers to difficult questions about what they're made of? I myself have never been too concerned with what I'm made of because I know it's 83% salt and vinegar Lays and I don't care to inquire further. But if I wanted to find out, a lot fewer people would try to stop me than have tried to stop Prescod-Weinstein. Which is why establishing her passion for science was worth doing in the first several chapters. Because, again, I'm only halfway through the book and I'm ready to quit a field I've never even had the remotest interest in. How has the author tolerated it? By letting her thirst for knowledge win over the racists and homophones. She makes very clear it is not easy and not always the case. Just as acutely as I felt her passion, I felt the heavy burden on her shoulders to fight for her own career, clear the way for more like her, and change the white supremacist foundation on which modern science is built.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Kathy

    A very, very good book, that in many ways can be an introduction to particle physics and cosmology, but also the often unexamined realities of actually doing that kind, or any kind, of science. I couldn't help thinking as I read, that I wish I could have read a book like this when I was younger. I don't know if it would have made me better prepared or even enabled me better to succeed in physics, but maybe I would have realized it sooner, and certainly it would have made my eventual decision not A very, very good book, that in many ways can be an introduction to particle physics and cosmology, but also the often unexamined realities of actually doing that kind, or any kind, of science. I couldn't help thinking as I read, that I wish I could have read a book like this when I was younger. I don't know if it would have made me better prepared or even enabled me better to succeed in physics, but maybe I would have realized it sooner, and certainly it would have made my eventual decision not to continue to my studies easier. Honestly, an essential read, especially for scientists, who often, in their training, never come across any critical analysis about their own history and culture, never reflect on their role in society and the repercussions of their work. I felt it as an undergrad, not just the big barrier walls that seemed to signal that physics was not for me, but that there was something rotten the state of academia. Some of my personal observations are echoed in this book and it's cathartic to have your experience articulated on the page. More than just a examination of the current state, this is also a call for what science could be like, what it should be like. As a student, that was never even a part of my imagination. I have hope for the future, not just new generations of scientists, but also society taking collective ownership of science, that things can change. But I do know that science—in my own case the work of studying the origins and history of the universe—means nothing if it simply decorates the dinner table of power that holds it hostage. I have a responsibility to refuse to assimilate into a scientific culture that assumes white supremacy, capitalism, colonialism, and militarism are simply the cost of doing business. I also know that we are approaching the end of the world, and if we are to salvage life as we understand it and work to avoid repeating the sequence of events that led us here, we will need a new way of thinking and being in relationship with each other.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Hilary LeBeuf

    Science is a socio-cultural phenomenon. Science, or more specifically the act of doing science, does not equate to objective reality as much as scientists would like to believe it does. In the Disordered Cosmos, we are given a view into how this is true even in the most supposedly dispassionate of scientific disciplines: physics. Any science is after all, made by humans, and as such, is bound to the same biases, power structures, and societal influences as any other human activity. This book is Science is a socio-cultural phenomenon. Science, or more specifically the act of doing science, does not equate to objective reality as much as scientists would like to believe it does. In the Disordered Cosmos, we are given a view into how this is true even in the most supposedly dispassionate of scientific disciplines: physics. Any science is after all, made by humans, and as such, is bound to the same biases, power structures, and societal influences as any other human activity. This book is incredible and ambitious in its genre-fluid structure. Dr. Prescod-Weinstein has a fallback career as novelist if astrophysics doesn't work out for her. She manages (or "they manage"? Apologies as I'm unsure of her pronouns as she identifies as agender, but says she assumes "woman" in public life) to flawlessly communicate laws of physics with a poetry, leading into memoir, political theory, sprinkling in some speculative fiction, and brushes up against manifesto. This should be essentially reading for any scientist or academic. Really anyone at all. For the future of science, for the future of humanity, it is essential that we not only to listen to queer, nonwhite voices, but that we uplift them. There is always another way. There is no right answer. The author's deep elaboration on the flawed poetics and racial implications of dark matter is a great example of subjectivity shapes our understanding of natural paradigms. Only in de-centering the straight, white, post-colonial male voice can we undo the current limitations of science bound to profit motives, shake ourselves from the existing socio-economic structures that patronize our pursuits of knowledge, and liberate science from contributing to the military-industrial complex. Prescod-Weinstein offers an engaging tour through these structures and their effect on scientific thought via both anecdotal and historical evidence.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Rebekah K

    In the first section, Prescod-Weinstein gives us a glimpse into the love she has for particle physics. Many other reviewers of this book lamented that they didn’t really understand the scientific nomenclature in this section. I didn’t either, but I’m either used to not understanding books about physics, or I knew that the details about quarks really weren’t what I needed to take with me. I didn’t need any preexisting physics acumen to understand Prescod-Weinstein’s undying love for particle phys In the first section, Prescod-Weinstein gives us a glimpse into the love she has for particle physics. Many other reviewers of this book lamented that they didn’t really understand the scientific nomenclature in this section. I didn’t either, but I’m either used to not understanding books about physics, or I knew that the details about quarks really weren’t what I needed to take with me. I didn’t need any preexisting physics acumen to understand Prescod-Weinstein’s undying love for particle physics. She loves it more than I think I can explain to you. Something about the Standard Model makes this professional PhD physicist so, so happy, and that makes me happy, too. The reason why this book is not entirely devoted to particle physics, which is a book I’m sure Prescod-Weinstein would much rather have written, is because I think that her scientific surroundings make it hard to focus on just doing what she loves uninterrupted. How are you supposed to focus on what you came here to do with all this noise? When the noise is that of Native Hawaiians protesting for astronomers not to build telescopes on sacred land, for Black mothers grieving for their murdered children, or women trying to make their voices heard without sounding too emotional, Prescod-Weinstein halted the objective science talk and turned our attention toward these more urgent issues. Until they have been addressed, science will not be proceeding as it should. Read more: https://sheseeksnonfiction.blog/2021/...

  21. 4 out of 5

    Andres Chang

    In The Disordered Cosmos, Prescod-Weinstein traverses an expansive range of topics and ideas. For example: - Western science is not inherently good. On the contrary, its objectives have been shaped by white cisheteropatriarchical and colonialist forces - Scientists (as much as everyone) should reject passivity to injustice. Doing so requires thinking beyond science and actively engaging in politics - Science, black feminism, and queerness can be analogized on the basis of "the observer effect," by In The Disordered Cosmos, Prescod-Weinstein traverses an expansive range of topics and ideas. For example: - Western science is not inherently good. On the contrary, its objectives have been shaped by white cisheteropatriarchical and colonialist forces - Scientists (as much as everyone) should reject passivity to injustice. Doing so requires thinking beyond science and actively engaging in politics - Science, black feminism, and queerness can be analogized on the basis of "the observer effect," by which one's frame of reference has a measurable influence on reality These are great ideas with varying degrees of originality. Unfortunately, I was frustrated by the feeling that depth was traded for breadth. Many of the issues raised, as well as their ontological framing, are supported primarily by autobiographical evidence, which makes the book feel halfway in-between theory and memoir. To that end, I think the theory would be unconvincing to folks who are not already radicalized in science and the autobiographical elements are somewhat underdeveloped. Still an important contribution that aims to advance many crucial ideas and shed light on stories that are sorely lacking.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Clara

    I love it when a book reshapes the way I think about a subject and this book challenged me in the best possible ways. This was not an easy book for me. I knew virtually nothing about particle physics going into this book, so the first few chapters were hard. But the later chapters that center the humanities of science captivated me. I loved the way Prescod-Weinstein tackled racism, misogyny and transphobia in science, the way she interrogated the white, male, cis-gendered, western history of the I love it when a book reshapes the way I think about a subject and this book challenged me in the best possible ways. This was not an easy book for me. I knew virtually nothing about particle physics going into this book, so the first few chapters were hard. But the later chapters that center the humanities of science captivated me. I loved the way Prescod-Weinstein tackled racism, misogyny and transphobia in science, the way she interrogated the white, male, cis-gendered, western history of the sciences, the way she included the people who help others practice and further science, and her arguments on how and why we need to decolonize the ways we learn and practice the hard sciences. Likewise, her personal stories and journey were deeply moving, even when I didn’t understand the particle physics connections she was making. There were odd pop culture references that weren’t always fully explained and/or my own understanding of those references interfered with the author’s interpretation of them that pulled me out of some of her arguments, and I’m pretty sure I’ll never fully comprehend the first four or so chapters, but overall I loved this book.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jendella

    My only critique of this book is that I would have organised the chapters differently (but the structure as it stands does make sense). The science in the first section of the book can be a lot to grapple with for the uninitiated (i.e. me!) but Dr Chanda does a great job of breaking down, so maybe I was just greedy in trying to devour it as an entire section (rather than take it chapter by chapter) but then that speaks to the wave of enthusiasm I was sucked into. Also I don’t want anyone thinking My only critique of this book is that I would have organised the chapters differently (but the structure as it stands does make sense). The science in the first section of the book can be a lot to grapple with for the uninitiated (i.e. me!) but Dr Chanda does a great job of breaking down, so maybe I was just greedy in trying to devour it as an entire section (rather than take it chapter by chapter) but then that speaks to the wave of enthusiasm I was sucked into. Also I don’t want anyone thinking that this is “just” a science book because it’s more than what I thought it might be when I approached it. It filled me with a deeper appreciation for the mysteries of the universe (so much so I got very emotional at points) and also fired me up to look at life on this tiny planet in a completely different way. I don’t know how best to describe it in a way that I feel does the book justice, but this book speaks of science, equity, justice, the revolution and the universe in a way that I found personally transformative.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jordan

    This is an excellent book. I would recommend it for anyone with a casual or passing interest in physics or science in general. I also think it should be required reading for all scientists and science educators regardless of field. A common misconception is that science is without culture. Dr. Prescod-Weinstein does a brilliant job of connecting the influences of race and culture on the language used in science and how that can be discouraging to certain groups, why who is doing science matters, This is an excellent book. I would recommend it for anyone with a casual or passing interest in physics or science in general. I also think it should be required reading for all scientists and science educators regardless of field. A common misconception is that science is without culture. Dr. Prescod-Weinstein does a brilliant job of connecting the influences of race and culture on the language used in science and how that can be discouraging to certain groups, why who is doing science matters, and the necessity of being reflective in the science we do. I am a biologist by training but I felt the author did a great job of making the physics relatively digestible. I did have to go over some sections multiple times but I don’t think that should be off putting to anyone interested in reading this book. I read this book through an ARC on netgalley. I have preordered a physical copy and can’t wait to re-read it over and over.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Joan

    This is an absolutely marvelous book, which is not to say that it is easy reading. The author tackles intellectually and emotionally difficult topics with passion and clarity, honesty and wry humor. It's worth all the effort, from re-reading the sections on particle physics which covered material discovered long after I left college, to flashbacks during sections on what I will oh-so-politely call male misbehavior. The scope of this book goes well beyond that. To quote comments on the book jacke This is an absolutely marvelous book, which is not to say that it is easy reading. The author tackles intellectually and emotionally difficult topics with passion and clarity, honesty and wry humor. It's worth all the effort, from re-reading the sections on particle physics which covered material discovered long after I left college, to flashbacks during sections on what I will oh-so-politely call male misbehavior. The scope of this book goes well beyond that. To quote comments on the book jacket: "Breathtakingly expansive and intimate" - Ruha Benjamin "A rethinking of what time, space, and matter mean ..." Kaitlyn Greenidge "This book will change the way you think about the universe, and about the how, why, and whom of academic culture." - Katie Mack The world is a better place with Dr. Chanda Prescod-Weinstein in it. The same is true for her new book. Extremely highly recommended.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Danielle Violet

    Chandra Prescod-Weinstein is exactly the author this generation needs. I kept trying to compare her with Carl Sagan or Brian Greene, but her voice is completely new and one the discipline has been in desperate need of. She effortlessly weaves together social and scientific dimensions into a cohesive portrait that reflects both historical and contemporary realities. Throughout the book I marvelled at Prescod-Weinstein’s level of knowledge and appreciation of giants in the fields of science and hu Chandra Prescod-Weinstein is exactly the author this generation needs. I kept trying to compare her with Carl Sagan or Brian Greene, but her voice is completely new and one the discipline has been in desperate need of. She effortlessly weaves together social and scientific dimensions into a cohesive portrait that reflects both historical and contemporary realities. Throughout the book I marvelled at Prescod-Weinstein’s level of knowledge and appreciation of giants in the fields of science and humanities, and found myself researching new thinkers and doers I’d previously unheard of (a sure sign of a good read)... she even threw in a list of references at the end! Definitely an author after my own heart. This book will never leave my library except to lend it to burgeoning scientists or other curious minds who’d like to explore the human and scientific world through a beautifully unique and informed perspective.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Caroline Hirko

    I loved this book! Chanda Prescod-Weinstein, apart from being a brilliant scientist, is also such a brilliant writer, activist, feminist, and most importantly human! I love how she combined the 'hard science' of astrophysics, particle physics, and cosmology with the 'soft' sciences of history, sociology, cultural and personal experience, feminism, and addressing racism in the fields of academia and science community. I didn't know about her blog before reading this book but her work, both in aca I loved this book! Chanda Prescod-Weinstein, apart from being a brilliant scientist, is also such a brilliant writer, activist, feminist, and most importantly human! I love how she combined the 'hard science' of astrophysics, particle physics, and cosmology with the 'soft' sciences of history, sociology, cultural and personal experience, feminism, and addressing racism in the fields of academia and science community. I didn't know about her blog before reading this book but her work, both in academia and online, is so vitally important and meaningful! This book is amazing- and I mean it in the literal awe-inspiring connotation. My new favorite science writer; for fans of Sean Carroll, James Gleick, Oliver Sachs, and Sam Kean but also for fans of Audre Lorde, James Baldwin, Alice Walker, and Maya Angelou. This book really gets you to think deeply, about the universe, about our roles on earth, and how to relate to one another and the universe we are miraculously a part of.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jeremy

    Note: I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley. What a book. It took me a while to write this review, since I needed time to absorb Prescod-Weinstein's words. As a physics PhD student, I'm saddened to see the state of our field when it comes to relations among people and the treatment of certain parts of the community, but I also am truly grateful for people like Prescod-Weinstein who shine a light on this issue, push it to the fore, and make us reckon with it. We all need to do better to ma Note: I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley. What a book. It took me a while to write this review, since I needed time to absorb Prescod-Weinstein's words. As a physics PhD student, I'm saddened to see the state of our field when it comes to relations among people and the treatment of certain parts of the community, but I also am truly grateful for people like Prescod-Weinstein who shine a light on this issue, push it to the fore, and make us reckon with it. We all need to do better to make science (and physics in particular) a more inclusive field. If I had to use one word to describe this book, I think it would be "raw". Prescod-Weinstein's writing can be felt in every sentence, and I found myself unable to stop reading. I personally didn't enjoy the popular science parts of the book as much as the sociological ones, but I think the book is still really good.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca Meyrink

    I’ve been sitting on what to write about this book for a few days. I love reading about theoretical physics. One thing that’s bothered be about the field of study is that it is spoken about as if it is isolated from the rest of the world. It is taught without question that the stars have been studied by primarily white men with a few white women throughout time. I can’t express how much I loved this book and how it was able to express so much love and joy for learning about theoretical physics as I’ve been sitting on what to write about this book for a few days. I love reading about theoretical physics. One thing that’s bothered be about the field of study is that it is spoken about as if it is isolated from the rest of the world. It is taught without question that the stars have been studied by primarily white men with a few white women throughout time. I can’t express how much I loved this book and how it was able to express so much love and joy for learning about theoretical physics as well as questioning settler colonialism, racism, capitalism, the gender binary etc. A beautiful blend of memoir and science. If you don’t love reading about theoretical physics in detail it’s only in the first few chapters! This was an instant favourite book.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Kori

    I love this book so much that I bought a 2nd copy for my sister & niece & am working REAL hard not deplete my funds by buying and sending copies to my friends. If you love looking at the stars, learning about space time, and practicing science ethically and humanely, read. this. book. Make sure your library carries it, buy it for the budding scientist and the professional scientist. Read it so we can get better at building equitable and caring relations with each other. Thank you Dr. Prescod-Wei I love this book so much that I bought a 2nd copy for my sister & niece & am working REAL hard not deplete my funds by buying and sending copies to my friends. If you love looking at the stars, learning about space time, and practicing science ethically and humanely, read. this. book. Make sure your library carries it, buy it for the budding scientist and the professional scientist. Read it so we can get better at building equitable and caring relations with each other. Thank you Dr. Prescod-Weinstein for reminding me of the incredible awesomeness of our universe and the work we can do to make our world safe, joyful, and just. 🌞🌗🌍🪐💫🌚

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