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

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

4
2003

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.

 

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4 COMMENTS

  1. I haven’t had a chance to read the book, but based on the sextant on the cover I can guess this is a history lesson of space technology going back centuries. As a former navigator familiar with this history I can give a little insight. Waaay back in the day, the naval power that was able to solve the problem of longtitude would rule the seas. The sextant would give you your latitude (distance above the equator), and with an accurate clock that could be used at sea, you could get your longtitude. This tech was shared by all navigators eventually, and helped a great deal to save lives at sea.

    • Someday we will out-number the Smiths; that is if the following generation will start actually having children. So far only one grandchild/neice/nephew from eleven kid/neices and nephews. I keep telling them that babies don’t come from Storks.

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