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Nemesis: The Death Star Hardcover – May, 1988

4.3 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 193 pages
  • Publisher: Weidenfeld & Nicholson; 1st edition (May 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1555841732
  • ISBN-13: 978-1555841737
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.8 x 0.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #743,577 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
"Nemesis: The Death Star" is the story of a possible explanation for periodic comet and asteroid impacts on Earth and other members of the Solar System. In brief, Dr. Richard Muller of Cal-Berkley believes that our Sun may have an as yet undetermined companion star (remember, many stars are part of binary systems).
There are about 3,000 stars which meet the basic qualifications for our Sun's binary companion: visual magnitude of 7 to 12, probably a Red Dwarf, and probably between 1-3 light-years orbital distance from the Sun. The distances for the stars which could possibly be the Nemesis star have NOT been measured, though the stars themselves have been catalogued. This is a tedious, time-consuming and, unfortunately, not very pressing matter for most astronomers. Hence, despite the widespread debates on the Nemesis Theory over all these years, it still has been left unresolved, indeed, the basic scientific measurements have not been done (though Muller and others are re-starting the effort).
If our Sun has a Nemesis companion, then every few million years it would come into contact with our Solar System by impacting the Ort Cloud. The Ort Cloud is the outer halo of objects tied to our Sun and the Solar System, and includes comets and other fragmentary matter which often have long, elliptical orbits. The Ort Cloud extends out almost to a light-year, or some 50,000 AU (astronomical unit = 93 million miles, the distance from the Sun to Earth). By comparison, Pluto, the most distant planet, is only about 50 AU distant from the Sun.
Nemesis would alter the route of some of those objects, throwing them "inward" towards the Solar System and causing the cratering so visible on our Moon and the planet Mercury.
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Format: Hardcover
Dr. Muller is one of those rare scientists - he can write as well (or better) than he can think. When writing this book, he must have been awake on all counts, I think. The theory expounded upon in this book, the idea that our Sun has a dim companion that we have not yet found, is both fascinating and controversial. The evidence is very well presented, with only an occasional lapse into inpenetrable scispeak, and the idea is one that is compelling to anyone who studies evolutionary theory. What if this dim companion that we have not seen yet does exist? It means that we have quite possibly stumbled upon a way to predict the end of the world as we know it (assuming we don't lend a helping hand of our own, of course...). This dim companion of Muller's, which he names Nemesis, supposedly perturbs the orbits of enough comets and meteoric material that the "hit rate" on our little ball of gas goes up considerably - thus inducing the same symptoms which now are considered to have contributed greatly to the last hurrah of the dinosaurs, i.e., large impacts on the surface of the earth. This phenomenon, which causes nuclear winter-like symptoms, can also be seen in the past geological record and seems to be somewhat cyclical. The real problem here is that the cycle proposed is so bloody long and our dating methods so bloody inaccurate that you can't really prove anything no matter how much arguement is put forth in writing. But as absurd as Muller's arguements may sound to the layman, the bottom line is that he has just as much chance of being right about this as anyone else has. The other bottom line here is that this book is well-written and intelligent, though I would say that anyone who got lost in science classes in high school would probably get lost in this book, too. So, if you want to know what you need to worry about in the next billion years or so, find a copy of this book and start figuring ways to get off this mudball.
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Format: Hardcover
Dr. Muller is my Physics professor here at U.C. Berkeley, and he is quite an exceptional man. This book reads very easy, often explaining the most complicated scientific ideas and theories in easy to understand ways. The accumulated knowledge that this book provides is almost as spectacular as the description of the journey through that knowledge. I did not buy this book, it was actually given to our class by Dr. Muller himself, but if you have even an inkling of interest in not only science, but also in exploration and discovery, then I would sincerely encourage you to try to find it, if not thru a used bookstore then perhaps at a local public library. It's a relatively short and quickly read work, and is well worth the time you put into it. I can't recommend it highly enough.
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Format: Paperback
THis is both a scientific and a detective novel. But then again, all science involves searching for the unknown or the missing. Luis Alvarez and his son are both cosmologists of that old school - those who both theorize and journey beyond the walls of academia.
It was an insight, something totally unforseen, that caused them to think of a "death star" that routinely visits the Earth bringing with it asteroids of death and destruction. This new knowledge along with all the evidence of other, non-Nemesis destructive events makes one suddenly aware of how precious and fragile is our existence. Through journeys to all parts of the globe, collecting samples, months of analysis, back to the field and back to the labs, writing, formulating....this was a task of momentous proportions.
Particularly difficult was the disclaim received when their theory was first proposed. The scientific community is a jealous one and those announcing new or revisionist views are rarely applauded and even less accepted. When other scientists joined the fray and computer simulations began agreeing with the theory, attitudes began to change. One particular problem was synthesizing the known extinctions with the alleged serial ones - and once this was done they were home free.
Because we cannot "see" a Nemesis star, this will always have to be based on strong, circumstancial evidence (periodic mass extinctions, the layers of irridium, the computer-generated hypothese). Great book and great writing.
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