Synopses & Reviews
A lively astronomy primer that uses cataclysmic scenarios to explain the universe?s most fascinating events
According to astronomer Philip Plait, the universe is an apocalypse waiting to happen But how much do we really need to fear from things like black holes, gamma-ray bursts, and supernovae? And if we should be scared, is there anything we can do to save ourselves? With humor and wit, Plait details the myriad doomsday events that the cosmos could send our way to destroy our planet and life as we know it. This authoritative yet accessible study is the ultimate astronomy lesson.
Combining fascinating?and often alarming?scenarios that seem plucked from science fiction with the latest research and opinions, Plait illustrates why outer space is not as remote as most people think. Each chapter explores a different phenomenon, explaining it in easy-to-understand terms, and considering how life on earth and the planet itself would be affected should the event come to pass. Rather than sensationalizing the information, Plait analyzes the probability of these catastrophes occurring in our lifetimes and what we can do to stop them. With its entertaining tone and enlightening explanation of unfathomable concepts, Death from the Skies! will appeal to science buffs and beginners alike.
"Plait, an astronomer and author of the popular Web site badastronomy.com, presents 'in loving detail' the many, many ways the human race could die, from temperature extremes and poisonous atmosphere to asteroid impacts and supernovae explosions. Such a state of destruction existed some 65 million years ago, when a giant meteoroid struck Earth, sending up so much flaming debris that 'the whole planet caught fire' and the dinosaurs were wiped out. Solar flare activity could bring on another Ice Age. Worse yet would be a gamma ray burster, a collapsed star whose radiation would be comparable to detonating 'a one-megaton nuclear bomb over every square mile of the planet.' Plait discusses insatiable black holes, the death of the Sun and cannibal galaxies including our own. Balancing his doomsday scenarios with enthusiastic and clear explanations of the science behind each, Plait offers a surprisingly educational and enjoyable astronomical horror show, including a table listing the extremely low odds of each event occurring. He gives readers a good scare, and then puts it in context. Illus." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
According to astronomer Plait, the universe is an apocalypse waiting to happen. With humor and wit, Plait details the myriad doomsday events that the cosmos could inflict to destroy the planet and life in general.
With wit, humor, and an infectious love of astronomy that could win over even the science-phobic, this fun and fascinating book reminds us that outer space is anything but remote. The scientist behind the popular website badastronomy.com, Philip Plait presents some of the most fearsome end-of-the-world calamities (for instance, incoming asteroids and planet-swallowing black holes), demystifies the scientific principles at work behind them, and gives us the odds that any of them will step out of the realm of sci-fi to disrupt our quiet corner of the cosmos. The result is a book that is both terrifying and entertaining?a tour of the violent universe we live in, written with an enthusiasm that every stargazer will appreciate.
About the Author
Phil Plait, Ph.D. is a NASA-funded research astronomer with more than ten years of professional experience. He has written astronomy articles for magazines such as Astronomy, Muse, and Space Illustrated, and has been published in the Boston Globe. Plait has appeared on national radio and TV programs, including the Sci-Fi Channelandrsquo;s andldquo;Countdown to Doomsdayandrdquo; documentary.
Table of Contents
Death From the Skies! Introduction
Chapter 1. Target Earth: Asteroid and Comet Impacts
Chapter 2. Sunburn
Chapter 3. The Stellar Fury of Supernovae
Chapter 4. Cosmic Blowtorches: Gamma-Ray Bursts
Chapter 5. The Bottomless Pits of Black Holes
Chapter 6. Alien Attack!
Chapter 7. The Death of the Sun
Chapter 8. Bright Lights, Big Galaxy
Chapter 9. The End of Everything
Epilogue. What, Me Worry?