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The Chilling Stars: A Cosmic View of Climate Change Paperback – June 10, 2004

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Editorial Reviews


'The new totem of the climate-change sceptics' The Times'If you are concerned by the doomsday scenarios regarding runaway climate change, then this alternative view of why the climate is warming will be of great interest.' Good Book Guide

About the Author

Henrik Svensmark leads the Center for Sun-Climate Research at the Danish National Space Center.Nigel Calder is a former editor of the New Scientist, and an award-winning science writer. His Magic Universe (OUP, 2003) was shortlisted for the Aventis Prize in 2004.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Icon Books; Second Edition edition (June 10, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1840468661
  • ISBN-13: 978-1840468663
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.9 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #680,049 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

60 of 63 people found the following review helpful By Edward Miller on September 8, 2008
Format: Paperback
A very readable book that makes strong case for effects of cosmic rays on cloud formation and hence on climate change. Because the basic theory is that fluctuations in the sun's magnetic field affect cosmic ray intensity on earth, there is considerable material on astronomy (cosmic rays, supernovas etc.) which provides the background needed to understand the discussion. In essence, more solar magnetic storms strengthen the sun's magnetic field which divert cosmic rays from earth. Cosmic rate create ions that provide nuclei for cloud formation. More nuclei mean more low clouds and more reflective clouds which in turn cool the earth, (except over Anartica and other ice covered areas, since snow and ice actually reflect even more sunlight than clouds).
The author (a Danish scientists who did much of the key work in this area) has been able to produce the effect in the laboratory and has documented the statistical relationship with low level clouds and surface temperatures. Many climate episodes over millions of years appear to be explained by cosmic ray effects. The theory also explains how differing number of sun spots come to affect year to year climate change on earth.

The later makes this a key book for those interested in the global warming debates, especially since so much of the research is recent. This makes it a must read since the evidence is not yet in most other popular discussions of climate change.
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55 of 58 people found the following review helpful By William Podmore on October 31, 2008
Format: Paperback
Henrik Svensmark, director of the Centre of Sun-Climate Research at the Danish National Space Centre, and Nigel Calder, the well-known science writer, have produced a challenging book on climate change.

When stars die, they do so in supernova explosions that emit cosmic rays, which create ions, which form clouds. Low clouds - less than 3000 metres above the surface - keep the planet cool. The less active the sun is, the more cosmic rays get through to the earth, and so the more clouds there are to cool the earth.

The Danish National Space Centre's SKY experiment showed how cosmic rays set free electrons which then catalysed the clubbing together of sulphuric acid molecules, the most important source of condensation nuclei. These cosmic rays have varied since the world began; their influx depends largely on where the earth is in the galaxy in our orbit around the centre of the Milky Way. When the earth is in dark regions with few stars where the rays are scarce, the climate is warm. When the earth is in bright regions where the rays are intense, the climate is cool.

The medieval warm period of 1000-1300 was followed by the cool periods of 1300-60 and 1450-1540, and a worse one, the little ice age of 1645-1715, then another cool period in 1790-1820. The peak of the little ice age was 1700, which coincided with the Maunder Minimum, when the sun's magnetic activity was very low, reducing its ability to shield the earth from cosmic rays.

In the last century, the sun's magnetic field doubled in strength, reducing the cosmic rays and so the clouds, thus heating up the earth by 0.70C from 1900 to 2005, 70% of the 20th century's warming.
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42 of 46 people found the following review helpful By William Whipple III VINE VOICE on November 1, 2008
Format: Paperback
The theory presented in this book sounds a bit suspect when one first hears it. So the explanation for climate change is cosmic rays from outer space, give me a break.

But the climate on planet Earth has been changing for roundly 4 billion years, within quite wide limits. There have been periods when most of the land surface was covered by ice caps, periods when even the polar areas were semi-tropical, and just about every state in between. There must be something big driving the system, the theories based on manmade carbon emissions (a recent phenomenon) do not seem to have much to offer, and the cosmic ray theory starts sounding better when it is broken down step by step.

#The starting point is low-lying clouds, which serve to deflect incoming solar energy and thereby cool things down. Caveat: the massive and intensely white ice cap of Antarctica is even more reflective than the clouds, so in that one area (but not Greenland, Siberia, etc.) clouds warm things up.

#Water vapor in the atmosphere will produce more clouds if there are nuclei (or specks) in the air to facilitate the process. The formation of nuclei is in turn facilitated by cosmic rays (high energy, charged particles that bombard our solar system from outer space). Hey, remember how energetic atomic particles were detected at one time with cloud chambers that would display vapor trails triggered by their passage.

#Cosmic rays originate from the explosion of dying stars; they are not equally spread through the universe nor constant over time. As our sun makes it way around the Milky Way galaxy, the volume of cosmic rays encountered waxes and wanes.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Thomas G Subirge on October 5, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book requires an open mind, some critical thinking, and eyes open to new concepts. An old proverb states: all progress stems from unpopular decisions - so if you're an avid believer of Al Gore and the UN's IPCC you're wasting your time. When comparing Svensmark's advanced thinking to Pythagoras discovering a round earth in 500 BC, you will be amazed at how organized and logical his perception of our climate is, similar to Pythagoras actually having accurately computed the earths circumference in 500 BC. Both were unpopular as their work didn't fit into political agendas of their time - however, I commend their persistance in persuing science without an agenda. The book is a fascinating and worthwhile read and is written for a general audience, though parts of it require some pondering to digest the concepts. Svensmark was not entirely alone in his discoveries as previous work has contributed to his; however his work has become a milestone through his own contributions as well as enjoining other evidence into a predictable scientific basis of climate change.
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