9780393064445 198

Accessory to War

The Unspoken Alliance Between Astrophysics and the Military


Neil deGrasse Tyson (Author), Avis Lang (Author)

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An exploration of the age-old complicity between sky watchers and war fighters, from the best-selling author of Astrophysics for People in a Hurry.

In this fascinating foray into the millennia-long relationship between science and military power, acclaimed astrophysicist and "the world's best science communicator" (Times Literary Supplement) 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, scrutinise 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.


“Throughout history, wars tend to be won by nations that are at the forefront of science. Thus astronomers and physicists have, since ancient times, benefited from an uneasy alliance with the military. This enlightening book explores the history and current implications of this partnership between space science and national security.” — Walter Isaacson, author of Steve Jobs and professor of history, Tulane University

Accessory to War is thought-provoking and reflective...” — Nature

“In Accessory to War, Neil deGrasse Tyson and Avis Lang give a sweeping panoramic overview of the enduring alliance between astrophysics and the military—from the Greeks to Galileo to GPS. The book's key contribution is in documenting the various ways science has aided military endeavors over the millennia and making the sometimes-arcane source material accessible.” — Science

“... wide-ranging and very readable history of the overlap between science and the military, penned with editor Avis Lang... The book is a fascinating exploration of humanity' s capacity to combine discovery with destruction...” — BBC Sky at Night

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