Pros: Awesome text and photos, great reference book.
Cons: Some sections might be too complicated for younger readers.
How do you answer a child when he or she asks you How big is the universe? Sure you can dance around the question, offer simplistic answers or say No one really knows how big it is. My brood have always had a love of space, science and mathematics and thanks to the Dorling Kindersley Eyewitness Books series theyve been able to learn a lot about those subjects. Being homeschoolers from the start they were used to doing research to find out the answer to their questions, that doesnt mean that I wasnt there to help them whenever possible but when they started asking me about quasars, binary stars, globular clusters and quarks Id break out into a cold sweat. Yes, they are my offspring, but sometimes they really scare me with their big freaky brains. The DK series was a great starting point for them, it led them to read more books on the things that interested them and answered their basic questions about subjects. The see, learn, discover concept of the DK Eyewitness Books is something that really helps kids retain what they are reading about, provides them with answers and prompts them to go outside the book for more information.
Dorling Kindersley Eyewitness Books Universe
Like almost all other DK Eyewitness Books, this one starts off defining the topic, in this case, What is the universe?. The answer, which might be something that younger kids cant fathom is simple, the universe is everything that has ever existed, exists at this very moment or will exist in the future. Try explaining that to a five year old and see the look on their face. Defining what the universe is may be simple but when it comes to explaining it, its a whole different story. Stop and think of how you view the planet Earth, ask most people and they will say that it is a huge planet but compared to the size of the universe, were nothing more than a tiny little speck. If a child asks about the universe and you have an answer ready to go, be prepared for the next one because if they ask what the universe is, inevitably they will want to know how we, humans and the planet Earth, fit into the picture. Now think about this little factoid that the book mentions, To reach the nearest star would take over four years at the speed of light. Crossing the galaxy from edge to edge would take 100,000 years. Its these small little passages that really help kids put things into perspective and makes them ask more questions that my friends is what learning is all about.
The book does a great job of explaining different things that are found in the universe; things like asteroids, meteors, pulsars, black holes, meteorites, how a star dies and speculations on how the universe was started. For those who believe in a biblical beginning, the section on the Big Bang theory might not sit well with you but I do urge you to allow your children to read about it since it can introduce other avenues of learning. One thing that really made me stop and think is when the author of the book [Robin Kerrod Planet Earth, The Solar System] compares the Big Bang theory to the birth of a baby. Nothing existed before the Big Bang no matter, no space, no radiation, no laws of physics, no time. There was no before, only after. Another interesting thing I picked up from this book is that it was a former priest named Abbe Georges Lamaitre [1895 - 1966] that came up with the basic principal of the Big Bang theory when he purposed that the universe was created in a single moment when a primeval atom exploded. Pretty ironic that a priest turned cosmologist was the one that came up with the concept because most clergy members say that it was gods doing.
The planets of Venus, Mars, Saturn, Jupiter, Mercury, Earth and the Earths moon are all explored; most of the information about these planets [and our moon] is in regards to how it fits into the universe as a whole, what would happen if they were not there and what their possibly deaths may come from. And while we are on the topic of death, do you know how a star dies? I never really stopped to think about it until I read the chapters about star death and birth in this book. Basically when a star uses up all its hydrogen fuel it either fades away or explodes in a supernova depending on the size and mass of the star. If you are someone that gets obsessive about things Id suggest skipping the section on how a star dies because you might just start to wonder how long the sun will be around and what is going to happen to Earth when it eventually fades away. Other subjects that are covered include the various things that are used to explore the universe, different types of stars and planets, the possible fate of the universe and other active galaxies.
If you liked this book, there are others in the Eyewitness Books series that you should check out. These include: Force & Motion, Chemistry, Matter, Time & Space, Astronomy, Earth and Evolution. All the books are well written, have great illustrations and photographs and make for great reference books for a home library.
The Bottom Line
This is a great read for kids as well as adult, even if you have a college education or fancy yourself a master of the night sky, I am sure you will come away from this book with a few interesting tidbits of knowledge. This is a great reference book for kids ages six and older but as I said, even adults can benefit from reading it. Trying to pack all the information about the universe into one book is impossible, thats like trying to write down every event that has happened in your life into a sixty page notebook. No matter how small you write, even if you covered every millimeter of every page, you would still run out of room. Universe gives solid information backed up with stunning photographs and illustrations with historical data to allow the reader to see whom the earliest pioneers of universal exploration were. When I first picked up this book I thought it would put me to sleep after the first few pages, if anything it made me start to read and research things that the book mentions in passing. If it can do that to an adult imagine what it can do to a kid!
As always, thanks for the read!
~^V^~ Freak ~^V^~
© 2005 Freak369
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