Just like the world isn’t flat, neither is space. But how to convey that to humans who can’t see the depth of objects that are millions of miles away? The authors of the new #1 book, Welcome to the Universe in 3D: A Visual Tour, came up with a clever way for humans to see the three-dimensional space without the need for high technology gizmos.
This sturdy book features 3D images of planets, moons, and stars. One of its unique features is its built-in 3D glasses that provide depth and a new way of seeing the universe. For those too young to read the captions or those who want to focus on the visual experience, there is an associated audio narration given by one of the co-authors, Neil deGrasse Tyson.¹
This book could be considered upgradable, as the built-in 3D viewer is able to view images projected from a smartphone or tablet, as demonstrated in the above interview by Princeton Professor and co-author, Robert J. Vanderbei. Vanderbei’s love for astronomy, science, and math is palpable in the above interview. By creating tools like this book Vanderbei is making science and math interesting for people of all ages and abilities.
- 00:26 – Vanderbei demonstrates how the 3D glasses work
- 02:20 – There are many techniques for capturing 3D images when objects are millions of miles away. Vanderbei explains a few of them.
- 05:41 – Once, Vanderbei and his friend captured the same image at the same time, thousands of miles away providing a 3D image of the Venus transit.
- 08:47 – Vanderbei talks about his motivation for the book as well as his eyesight that allows him to see two distinct images, instead of one.
- 11:01 – He describes how he and his co-authors came up with the concept for the book.
- 17:54 – Vanderbei once saw the sunset on Lake Michigan (PDF) and that inspired a calculation showing that the world is, indeed, round.
- 22:11 – Vanderbei makes a convincing case that there is an innate understanding of some of the principles having to do with how we see the universe.
- 25:57 – The book had only been out for a few days at the time of this interview, but had gone to #1 on the Amazon bestseller list. The initial boost was, no doubt, to Neil deGrasse Tyson’s appearance on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert (YouTube).
- 27:39 – Vanderbei demonstrates how the book can be used with a smartphone.
¹ The other two co-authors of the book are Michael A. Strauss, professor of astrophysical sciences at Princeton University, and J. Richard Gott, professor emeritus of astrophysical sciences at Princeton.
² The source of some of the images inserted in the above video is the 2022 Ng? Whet? Resources website at https://www.ngawhetu.nz/index.php/stellar-distance-hdn?showall=1