A resonant paean to the beauties of the cosmos and a persuasive appeal for solutions to injustices in science.”Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“In this powerful and compelling book, Prescod-Weinstein lays it out patently: Racist and sexist policies and behaviors are rampant across all scientific disciplines…From the hunt for dark matter (her area of expertise) to the often fraught relationship among Indigenous peoples, their lands, and high-tech experiments, Prescod-Weinstein’s deep dives into complex subjects are accessible and exhilarating... A timely, necessary, stellar book—a game-changer.”Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Particle physicist Prescod-Weinstein presents a provocative and richly detailed critique of the largely white and male scientific community and her place in it as a Black queer woman…A fascinating and disquieting look at a discipline that often holds itself above interrogation.”Booklist (starred review)
“Celebrated scientist Dr. Prescod-Weinstein uncovers how systematic racism limits humanity’s potential. Using the universe as her classroom, she highlights the value of equality in laboratories and society at large.”Essence
"There are very few books that will ignite the finest poets, memoirists, scientists, novelists, and folks who love reading. The Disordered Cosmos does all that, but what's most otherworldly is that it's a book that families in this world must read. It will change how we talk, think, communicate, and, most of all, imagine."Kiese Laymon, author of Heavy: An American Memoir
“What a cosmic testimony this is! A science-sermon to the Black, the queer, the trans, the disabled and all others who seek to be as free as the cosmos allows. This book proves that there is plenty of room in the universe for those who, on Earth, are forced to fold themselves up. Rejoice! For we have the space.”Robert Jones, Jr., author of The Prophets
“Breathtakingly expansive and intimate…. Chanda Prescod-Weinstein is a griot of the universe, and her powerful storytelling will reignite your commitment to creating a world in which we all have the spacetime to think and dream.” Ruha Benjamin, author of Race After Technology
“This kind of science book is all too rare, and all too necessary.” Clifford Johnson, author of The Dialogues: Conversations about the Nature of the Universe
“A groundbreaking work of science and art—a clarion call to think rigorously, to question fearlessly, to challenge what we've long been told and reimagine what could exist in our search to better understand ourselves and our universe.” Nicole Chung, author of All You Can Ever Know
“Eye-opening, provocative, and ultimately inspiring: if we can grasp the enormity of the cosmos, surely we can look within ourselves and try to be better to each other.” Sean Carroll, author of Something Deeply Hidden: Quantum Worlds and the Emergence of Spacetime
“Both scientist and humanist, Chanda Prescod-Weinstein integrates her personal experience as a Black woman growing up in an America filled with social injustice with her quest to understand the cosmos. For me, she embodies Star Trek: The Next Generation.” Gates McFadden, actress and director
“A rethinking of what time, space and matter mean when we understand the systems of oppression and exploitation that structure our realities. We've never more needed a map of the stars to guide us, and Chanda gives us a great big new one in this book.” Kaitlyn Greenidge, author of We Love You, Charlie Freeman
“This book will change the way you think about the universe, and about the how, why, and whom of academic culture.” Katie Mack, author of The End of Everything
“Afrofuturists seeking a deeper grounding in sciences beyond Earth’s terrain will enjoy this well-crafted book that centers both Black Lives and space theory in a quest to understand the universe.”Ytasha L. Womack, author of Afrofuturism: The World of Black Sci Fi & Fantasy Culture
“Imagine if someone could make you fall in love not only with the nighttime sky not only as a thing of beauty but as a matter of matter, the stuff of our existence seen and unseen. Imagine a physics professor who could assure you that the world and its wonder belongs to all of us, Black women included. That is what you have in Chanda Prescod-Weinstein's The Disordered Cosmos. Her writing is beautiful and clear, her ideas are expansive, honest and precise. You will feel yourself grow inside this book. Finally, this is the decolonized science we have yearned for, a gift from a rare intellectual who fights for freedom on every page and inside every theory.” Imani Perry, author of Looking for Lorraine: The Radiant and Radical Life of Lorraine Hansberry
Taking us into the heart of dark matter research and the study of cosmology, Prescod-Weinstein (theoretical physics, Univ. of New Hampshire) delves into her own story to highlight how the practice of science, and the ability to explore the wonders of the universe, are dependent on the conditions present in society. How do gender, race, and sexual identities determine access to science and the ability to participate in scientific research? These are questions that fascinate the author as much as do quarks, axions, dark matter, and other subjects of theoretical astrophysics. She provides an honest, raw look at how she had to overcome the prejudices and abuses of a largely cisgender white male profession as a woman of Afro-Caribbean, Jewish descent who identifies as queer agender in order to explore her passion. VERDICT Part introduction to quantum mechanics and cosmology, part memoir, and part sociological study, this work challenges readers to question the nature of how science is done in contemporary society, as well as what it means when everyone has a seat at the cosmological table. For general science readers, gender and feminist studies students, and those concerned about the role feminist and racial politics plays in STEM professions.—Donna Marie Smith, Palm Beach Cty. Lib. Syst., FL
“Black Lives are Star Stuff and Black Lives Matter—all of them.” A renowned physicist describes the beauty and wonder of the universe while interrogating the discriminatory sociocultural systems that support scientific practice.
In this powerful and compelling book, Prescod-Weinstein lays it out patently: Racist and sexist policies and behaviors are rampant across all scientific disciplines. As a result, minorities are poorly represented, in particular in physics, astronomy, and related fields. Yet the cosmos offers a siren song to all humans, and changing the centuries-old framework dictating how science is constructed, perceived, and taught is imperative not only to make room for diverse scientists, but also to enrich the pursuit of knowledge itself. Prescod-Weinstein, who is the first Black woman to hold a tenure-track faculty position in theoretical cosmology, rightly points out that “creating room for Black children to freely love particle physics and cosmology means radically changing society and the role of physicists within it.” In a pleasing combination of passionate and cogent prose, the author demonstrates the entanglement of scientific pursuit and colonial histories and explains how her own exploration of math and physics cannot be separated from the history of racism and oppression. After all, she writes, “physics and math classrooms are not only scenes of cosmology…but also scenes of society, complete with all of the problems that follow society wherever it goes. There is no escape.” From the hunt for dark matter (her area of expertise) to the often fraught relationship among Indigenous peoples, their lands, and high-tech experiments, Prescod-Weinstein’s deep dives into complex subjects are accessible and exhilarating. But it's her crystal-clear vision of the transformation equality could effect in the world that makes this book a must-read. Her belief in what the future could hold—of “what freedom looks like”—should serve as an inspiration for all readers.
A timely, necessary, stellar book—a game-changer.