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Accessory to War: The Unspoken Alliance Between Astrophysics and the Military

This book can be downloaded and read in Apple Books on your Mac or iOS device.


New York Times Bestseller

An exploration of the age-old complicity between skywatchers and warfighters, from the best-selling author of Astrophysics for People in a Hurry.

In this fascinating foray into the centuries-old relationship between science and military power, acclaimed astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson and writer-researcher Avis Lang examine how the methods and tools of astrophysics have been enlisted in the service of war. "The overlap is strong, and the knowledge flows in both directions," say the authors, because astrophysicists and military planners care about many of the same things: multi-spectral detection, ranging, tracking, imaging, high ground, nuclear fusion, and access to space. Tyson and Lang call it a "curiously complicit" alliance. "The universe is both the ultimate frontier and the highest of high grounds," they write. "Shared by both space scientists and space warriors, it’s a laboratory for one and a battlefield for the other. The explorer wants to understand it; the soldier wants to dominate it. But without the right technology—which is more or less the same technology for both parties—nobody can get to it, operate in it, scrutinize it, dominate it, or use it to their advantage and someone else’s disadvantage."

Spanning early celestial navigation to satellite-enabled warfare, Accessory to War is a richly researched and provocative examination of the intersection of science, technology, industry, and power that will introduce Tyson’s millions of fans to yet another dimension of how the universe has shaped our lives and our world.

From Publishers Weekly

Aug 06, 2018 – In this comprehensive history of astrophysics military collaboration, astrophysicist Tyson (Astrophysics for People in a Hurry) and researcher Lang explore how two causes use similar tools for different ends. Over the centuries, the authors write, scientists and warmakers "have more often been in sync than at odds." Sometimes they're sides of the same coin, as, for instance, "astrophotography and photoreconnaissance differ only in their choice of target." From the first telescopes to present-day satellites, the coevolution of science and war has frequently resulted in valuable inventions, like GPS, "whose value to the U.S. economy will soon be upwards of $100 billion" annually. Tyson's own experience of attending an astrophysics conference in 2003, and realizing how many of the companies present had also contributed to the Iraq invasion, further illustrates the book's point. While acknowledging how science has enabled war, as with the development of the atomic bomb, the authors argue astrophysics can also be a way to peace. Ventures such as mining asteroids for scarce resources, which could "erase a perennial rationale for war," are one possibility. But they caution that "weaponization arrives close on the heels of militarization" in space. Well paced and skillfully written, the narrative seamlessly integrates science lessons, military strategy, and world history surely suiting military and science buffs alike.
Accessory to War: The Unspoken Alliance Between Astrophysics and the Military
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  • $14.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Physics
  • Published: Sep 11, 2018
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
  • Seller: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.
  • Print Length: 448 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: This book can only be viewed on an iOS device with Apple Books on iOS 12 or later, iBooks 1.5 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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