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Rain of Iron and Ice: The Very Real Threat of Comet and Asteroid Bombardment (Helix books) Hardcover – January 1, 1996

ISBN-13: 978-0201489507 ISBN-10: 0201489503 Edition: First Edition

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Product Details

  • Series: Helix books
  • Hardcover: 236 pages
  • Publisher: Perseus Books; First Edition edition (January 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0201489503
  • ISBN-13: 978-0201489507
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 4.1 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,701,135 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This volume informally yet comprehensively surveys meteorites (which reach the surface of the earth) and meteors (which don't)-their origins, types, consequences and prospects for influencing future events. Author Lewis, codirector for science at a NASA/University of Arizona research center, is passionate and upbeat on the topic. Addressing the general reader, he recounts apt anecdotes in historical context while outlining a commonsensical framework for understanding the scientific scope and nature of the matter that comes to earth from space. Early chapters describe legendary meteorite falls. Subsequent chapters consider, for example, new knowledge from studies of nuclear explosions, cratering on Mars and Mercury, atmospheric effects on Venus and biological signatures of impacts in earth fossil records. Very interesting are results of computer simulations based on the accumulated discoveries, which project what we can expect from future encounters. Overall, Lewis presents an impressively readable and informative digest of current knowledge on the subject.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

News flash: After 200 years of touting the uniformity principle, scientists have discovered catastrophism. Of course, there has always been evidence of destruction coming from the heavens: The Book of Revelations, Charles Fort, medieval astrologers, Christian Millenialists, and Immanuel Velikovsky have all insisted upon it. But now, after centuries of debunking such theories, science proclaims its official dictum: cataclysm is possible, indeed probable. Rain of Iron and Ice traces the history of religious and scientific beliefs about meteorite falls, cometary eruptions, and asteroid near-misses and reviews eschatology (the literature of such catastrophes). Lewis, a noted planetary scientist and impact crater expert and author of Space Resources (LJ, 9/15/87), follows the fascinating study of bombardment on the Earth, Moon, Mercury, Venus, and Mars. He outlines the results of computer simulations and the implications for the future of life on Earth, offering suggestions as to "what we can do about it." Lewis does a fairly thorough job of reviling experts for scoffing at superstition and ignoring the vast quantities of eyewitness reports, but he stays within the bounds of establishment science (there are no footnotes to Velikovsky). Following Duncan Steel's more lay oriented Rogue Asteroids and Doomsday Comets (LJ 5/1/95), this scholarly history is suitable for academic libraries and informed science readers in public libraries.?Valerie Vaughan, Hatfield P.L., Mass.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Philip C. Plait on November 1, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Dr. Lewis is an acknowledged expert on the topic of impacts, and it shows. His writing is clear and vivid; his descriptions of impact events are some of the best (and most chilling) I have read. There is a wealth of detail about potentially hazardous asteroids and comets, yet he never talks above the reader's head. As a professional astronomer myself and one who has talked about this subject many times, I highly recommend this book.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 16, 1998
Format: Paperback
John S. Lewis uses his extensive knowledge of asteroids and comets to create "Rain of Iron and Ice", the most authoritative work on the cosmic threat that I have read to date.
Most fascinating and frightening about the book is the computer simulations of impacts at various locations around the world. The scenarios are a reminder of exactly how vunerable the Earth is to a threat that is largely misunderstood and taken for granted.
Serious students of asteroid and comet impact will appreciate the technical accuracy with which Lewis delivers the material. Those picking up the book for the first time will be surprised with the ease of readability and the easy flow of the author's words.
The accuracy and readability of "Rain of Iron and Ice" will leave no doubt as to just how real the threat asteroids and comets pose to our planet.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 27, 1998
Format: Paperback
An excellent book, both for the beginner, or for the serious student of cosmic impact. The author takes us on a tour of impacts through the solar system, and then back through the history of our own planet, revealing some disturbing evidence of past impact. If you're looking for a good book on the subject, this is it.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 9, 2002
Format: Paperback
This fine book is designed primarily with one goal in mind. Aimed at a popular audience, it is written to counteract the unfortunately widespread myth that no one has ever been killed, or will ever be killed, by a falling asteroid or meteor. John Lewis reworks this statement, reminding us that the way it should be phrased is as follows: "no one as ever been killed or hurt by a meteor or asteroid in the presence of a Western, 20th/21st century journalist or meteoriticist."
This book demonstrates, through statistics and anecdotes, that it is more than just a question of occasional asteroids like the one that killed the dinosaurs, or like the ones in the asteroid movies from the summer of 1999. There is an extremely wide range of asteroids, meteors, and other random space-rocks, of all different shapes, sizes, and compositions. The ones large enough to do fairly serious damage land all over the planet, and substantially more often than many of us tend to believe.
Chapter 14 alone is worth the price of the book. In it, Dr. Lewis shows us computer simulations of several likely asteroid strikes. Let me clarify that -- he presents the results of computer simulations of 10 randomly computer-generated "centuries" on Earth, and what the statistical likelihood of pretty awful asteroid collisions are in each century. Many of the simulations are pretty terrifying. The one that opens the chapter, taking place in the Phillipines, is one of the most horrifying things you'll ever read.
Another valuable part of the book is the table in chapter 13, which lists dozens of damaging asteroid or meteor strikes throughout recorded history, all over the world. Stories like this crop up throughout the book, they aren't just in chapter 13.
The intent of this book is to raise public awareness. It succeeds dramatically. Please buy a copy, and get copies for some of your friends. Two thumbs up.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Holy Olio on December 18, 2000
Format: Paperback
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The need for radioastronomy to detect near Earth objects on the day-side is documented in this book. Amateur astronomers have a real opportunity to potentially save all life on Earth. Despite the efforts expended (mostly since 1994, after the impact of the fragments of Shoemaker-Levy 9 on Jupiter) the estimate is that 90 per cent of nearby asteroids are unknown. As David Morrison has warned, nothing can be told about the unknown majority, and the odds are that there will be no warning.
At least four large impacts occurred during the 20th century, the best known being the Tunguska object in 1908. I was a bit startled to learn of the small 1919 impact on Lake Michigan (p 159) having never heard anything about this from elderly folklore-prone relatives.
Perhaps most useful is Lewis' discussion of the various myths about our safety from such impacts.
See also "Night Comes to the Cretaceous" by James Lawrence Powell.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Jerald R Lovell on March 11, 2002
Format: Paperback
This book is a natural five-star. It clearly and eloquently discusses the threat from asteroids and comets. The scenario of a SMALL asteroid falling in the Philippine Sea should be eye-opening to even the most jaded. Also especially worth reading are the chapters on Mercury and on computer created scenarios of falls over a century's time. The book maintains a steady pace throughout, and is a must for anyone interested in meteoritics.
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