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Rogue Asteroids and Doomsday Comets: The Search for the Million Megaton Menace That Threatens Life on Earth Paperback – September 22, 1997

ISBN-13: 978-0471193388 ISBN-10: 0471193380 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 328 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (September 22, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0471193380
  • ISBN-13: 978-0471193388
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.1 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,269,691 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Steel estimates that a massive asteroid capable of wiping out a fourth of humanity can be expected to collide with Earth roughly once every 100,000 years. In the immediate offing, he maintains, we can expect smaller cataclysmic impacts similar to the Tunguska explosion of 1908, which devastated a vast expanse of Siberian forest (he believes that an asteroid blew up in the atmosphere above the Tunguska River). Written in clear prose for the layperson, this gripping report advocates the creation of an international search program to detect, intercept and divert Earth-menacing asteroids and comets. Steel, an English astronomer based in Australia, served on two NASA committees investigating potential impact hazards. He endorses the theory that asteroid collisions caused not only the dinosaurs' extinction but also many other mass extinctions during the past few hundred million years. Steel's hypothesis that the Taurid meteoroid stream poses the major risk to Earth is bound to be controversial, as is his speculation that the Taurid Complex of meteor showers produced huge storms and Tunguska-type explosions on Earth around 4500 years ago?and that Stonehenge was built to observe and predict these cataclysms. Newbridge Astronomy Book Club alternate.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Here is a recipe for a fascinating literary dish: Take the history of comet impacts on Earth. Add the latest scientific findings from astronomers and geologists. Stir in related theories about the origin of Stonehenge and the extinction of dinosaurs. Mix well with statistics on the chances of future terrestrial collision and the evidence from the recent comet explosion on Jupiter. Spice liberally with science fiction-like images of catastrophic scenarios. Bring to a simmer with government plans for detection and interception of an approaching "death star." Serve immediately to horrified millions. The result is guaranteed to satisfy the appetite of interested lay readers for all the facts, scientific beliefs, and uncertainties about the danger of comets and asteroids crashing into Earth. The head chef is author Steel, an Australian astronomer and world authority on comet hazards. The appetizer is a foreword by Arthur C. Clarke. Gourmet reading!?Valerie Vaughan, Western Mass. Regional Lib.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 15, 1998
Format: Paperback
Three events in the past decade have caused a great deal of interest in objects around us in space. Giotto's encounter with Halleys Comet, Hubble Space Telescope pictures of the Shoemaker/Levy comet crashing onto Jupiter and lastly the naked eye sightings of the Hale/Bopp Comet we have enjoyed earlier in the year. Originally from Somerset, Duncan Steel now works at the Anglo-Australian Observatory and his book provides a very readable account of the nature and movements of these very varied objects.
Ever since the first pictures of other planets and in particular their moons arrived, studies have been made of their cratering records. Pictures from space have also been the main method of detecting craters but this time down on earth where plate tectonics, erosion, sediments or vegetation tend to erase them.
Astronomy and Geology linked up when cosmic impact events were suggested as possible cause or trigger for some of the major extinctions we find in the fossil record. The effects of both solar and cosmic cycles on all aspects of life on the planet are now widely studied.
Mr. Steel gives an account of a very bright meteor seen by many people in 1993 in New South Wales. When asked for an estimate of how soon it would before another such sighting to occur the answer was given in years. One week later, however, an object estimated to be 2-3 meters in size and traveling at 30Km/Sec exploded 18Km overhead with the amount of energy produced by a Hiroshima Bomb. Events such as these and the trail of impacts left on Jupiter show that objects in space are certainly not solitary. Lines of craters have been found on other moons in the system.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jerald R Lovell on March 11, 2002
Format: Paperback
I liked the book, but do not rate it as highly as "Rain of Iron and Ice" by John S. Lewis and "Impact" by Gerrit L Verschuur. However, it is much better than "Fire on Earth" by John and Mary Gribben.
My chief reservation about Steel's work is that he seems easily drawn to flights of whimsy such as Clube's and Napier's contentions regarding Beta Taurid cometary impacts that have affected history on a mammoth scale. While these are captivating proposals, perhaps, there isn't enough hard scientific evidence for them clutter up what was otherwise a hitherto fine scientific presentation of a real problem by Steel. Up to the author's dalliance into the speculative, the book is a good read about a serious, overlooked, preventable threat. His admonitions should be taken seriously.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Holy Olio on December 18, 2000
Format: Paperback
Duncan Steel is one of the best known advocates for a near Earth observation system, and he and others like him should be listened to. Unfortunately the book is not too great. It didn't hold my attention, partly because of the intrusion of some of his opinions. If nothing else is available on the topic, this could be an okay choice. See instead "Rain of Iron and Ice" by John S. Lewis
Related titles include "Night Comes to the Cretaceous" by James Lawrence Powell and "T Rex and the Crater of Doom" by Walter Alvarez.
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1 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Arnold Veness on June 17, 1999
Format: Paperback
To the publisher I would appreciate it if the publisher could produce an audio adaptation of this book. I would love to listen to this while I drive to work and to let my 16 month old son listen to it as a bedtime story. My goal is to expose him to some of my favorite passions, maths, sciences, physics, geophysics, paleontology, astronomy, electronics, photonics, new science and discoveries etc. The more audio books you can produce of the above genre the more I will support you. Arnold D Veness
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