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Death from the Skies!: These Are the Ways the World Will End . . .

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Death from the Skies!: These Are the Ways the World Will End . . . [Hardcover]

Philip Plait
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (96 customer reviews)

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Plait, an astronomer and author of the popular Web site, 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. (Oct. 20)
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From Booklist

Fans of disaster-from-space movies such as Deep Impact or Armageddon, or of science-fiction novels like Lucifer’s Hammer, will definitely want to check out this lively yet also rather scary book by a noted astronomer and creator of the clever Web site The book is basically a catalogue of astronomical catastrophes that could wipe out life on earth: asteroids, comets, supernovae, black holes, aliens, even our friendly sun. According to Plait, it is virtually inevitable that something will happen, perhaps not in the not-so-distant future, to kill us all—don’t forget, it’s already happened once, 65 million years ago (remember the dinosaurs?), and there have been several recent near misses. The thing to do is stop worrying about inevitabilities and start planning for them: find ways, for example, to turn asteroids off course before they hit us. The book is extremely informative: Plait explains not only what can destroy the planet but also how it would happen. It’s a crash course in astronomy as well as a cautionary tale about the (possibly brief) future of our world. --David Pitt


"[Plait] describes each doomsday scenario with glee?.Yet for all that, his book is strangely comforting?.Comprehensible and engaging."
?"Washington Post Book World"
?Plait is one of the world's favorite astronomers. He is an entertaining writer, jocular and jaunty, which produces a delightful clash with the ideas in this book, which, since it is a scientific look at the unpredictable but inevitable end of the Earth and of us and all our progeny, ought to be a real downer. It's not at all. The enthusiasm Plait has for his subject is not any morbid fascination with the upcoming bang or whimper, but with how much we know now about the universe around us, and he conveys this enthusiasm with pages full of wonder. This is a fun way to learn about cosmology. Readers will come away with admiration for all the learning and informed speculation encompassed here, but also, if you are like me, an increased sense of wonder and value.?
? "Commercial Dispatch"
?A surprisinglyo

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 Channel’s “Countdown to Doomsday” documentary.
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