Friday, April 24, 2009
The Bluffer’s Guide to the Cosmos. Daniel Hudon. (http://www.ovalbooks.com) $10
Daniel Hudon is a regular at the meetings of the Somerville, Mass. literary group the Bagel Bards. One Saturday morning (his eyes shining brightly as say…stars), he handed me a book he wrote for the popular best- selling series; “The Bluffer’s Guide…” His book’s title is: “The Bluffer’s Guide to the Cosmos.” Hudon is a science lecturer at Boston University and has had an interest in the cosmos ever since he was a little dwarf star of a boy himself.
The book is perfect for guys like me. You know the sort of stumblebum at the cocktail party who corners you then bamboozles, beguiles, outsmarts, or more likely bluffs his way to your attention.
The book ain’t fluff, Hudon has some solid facts and theories to present and he does it in a light and humorous way. I mean this book is not meant for Carl Sagan or Steven Hawking to read, it is meant for me, and my ilk.
In this passage Hudon gives some advice about how to explain the “Big Bang” at, say, some haughty dinner part with a bunch of nattering nabobs:
“ Because the expansion of the cosmos is a source of great confusion for people, choosing your words carefully at the beginning will save you much grief later on. To get started, it’s best to repeat the following phrase to yourself before trying it out in public: The Big Bang was an explosion of space at the beginning of time. Then keep repeating it until everyone who hears it appreciates that it is truly profound as it sounds.”
Now there are a lot of talking points in this little book like: “The color of the universe is not black or blue, or even colorless—it’s beige. Think cosmic latte.” Or: “ A white dwarf is so compact that a teaspoon of its material would weigh the same as an automobile.” And how about? “ In jumping into a black hole, you would first be stretched thin like spaghetti and then crushed into oblivion.” I don’t think I will live in the pasta folks!
Carry this trusty little book in your back pocket and refer to it when you encounter a pack of rabid MIT nerds at some gathering and are at a loss for words. Houdin can make you bluff your way in or out in any situation.
Doug Holder/ Ibbetson Update