How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming / Mike Brown / Spiegel & Grau / Dec 7, 2010

(from Publisher's Weekly, starred review)
Caltech professor Brown takes readers on a leisurely stroll across campus in this memoir of an astronomer's personal life and the years-long quest to locate new planetary bodies that has so occupied his attention. Tracing his life through the academic ladder, marriage, and parenthood, Brown clearly explains difficult scientific topics with humor and warmth. By focusing nominally on his discovery of Eris, the dwarf planet that resulted in Pluto's unexpected demotion, Brown ultimately pens a love letter to his young daughter, linking her development to the planetary timeline; "Stars, planets, galaxies, quasars are all incredible and fascinating things, with behaviors and properties that we will be uncovering for years and years, but none of them is as thoroughly astounding as the development of thought, the development of language..." The scientifically-minded will be particularly amused by Brown's desire for accurate statistics regarding due dates and birth dates. Deftly pulling readers along on his journey of discovery and destruction, Brown sets the record straight and strongly defends his science with a conversational, rational, and calm voice that may change the public's opinion of scientists as poor communicators.

Advance Praise

"Mike Brown is the funniest, smartest, and most surprisingly poetic Caltech astronomer who ever made my daughters cry. Certainly their happy nine-planet childhoods were worth sacraficing for this truly fascinating and engaging read." -- Sandra Tsing Loh

"Finally I have someone to whom I can forward the hate mail I get from schoolchildren. After all these years, the real destroyer of Pluto has confessed. Part memoir and part planetary saga, How I Killed Pluto invites you into planetary scientist Mike Brown's office, his home, and his head as he tells the story of how his research on the outer solar system led directly to the death of Pluto, the planet." -- Neil deGrasse Tyson, Frederick P. Rose Director of the Hayden Planetarium and author of The Pluto Files: The Rise and Fall of America's Favorite Planet

"Damn Mike Brown for exploding the solar-system model we've been carrying around in our heads since elementary school. Praise him for showing us that stargazing, far from being a dead science, is a living, changing wonder." --Benjamin Wallace, author of The Billionaire's Vinegar

"Romance, intrigue, laughter, skullduggery, and most of all: science! Mike Brown has done more than anyone to reshape our view of the solar system, and this first-person account of his discoveries is an irresistible page-turner. You'll have so much fun, you won't even notice how much you're learning." -- Sean Carroll, author of From Eternity to Here: The Quest for the Ultimate Theory of Time

"Science is at its best when it shakes up our thinking, and when it comes to planets, Mike Brown has grabbed on with both hands. Whether you think Pluto is a planet or just another ice ball, you'll find Brown's tale of exploring the outer solar system a charming and even endearing read. If Pluto is indeed dead, then its sacrifice was not in vain." -- Philip Plait, author of Death from the Skies!

"Not only does Mike Brown make astronomy accesible and even thrilling in this book, he does it with a play-by-play, blow-by-blow description of his own involvelement in the scientific shocker of the century. I only wish that I could clone this guy enough times to cover all the other mysteries of the universe." -- Steven Rinella, author of American Buffalo


The Man Who Made Pluto Vanish, Wall Street Journal
"Mr. Brown's brisk, enjoyable How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming chronicles the whole saga and, in the process, makes Pluto's sad fate easier to take. If we've lost a planet, we've gained a sprightly new voice for popular science." -- James Kennedy, author of The Order of Odd-Fish

Publisher's Weekly, starred review
"[A] conversational, rational, and calm voice that may change the public's opinon of scientists as poor communicators."

Also, check out the (so far) mostly 5-star reviews on Amazon.

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