- Hardcover: 320 pages
- Publisher: Blackwell Pub; 1St Edition edition (May 1990)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0631169539
- ISBN-13: 978-0631169536
- Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.1 x 1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,007,156 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Cosmic Winter 1St Edition Edition
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I first became aware of this book when a friend sent me a copy of a paper addressed to the European Office of Aerospace Research and development, dated June 4, 1996, entitled: The Hazard to Civilization from Fireballs and Comets by S.V.M. Clube. (For the uninitiated, Clube was an astrophysicist at the University of Oxford).
In this short (4 pages) letter and summary statement, Clube writes:
"Asteroids which pass close to the Earth have been fully recognized by mankind for only about 20 years. Previously, the idea that substantial unobserved objects might be close enough to be a potential hazard to the Earth was treated with as much derision as the unobserved aether. Scientists of course are in business to establish broad principles (eg relativity) and the Earth's supposedly uneventful, uniformitarian environment was already very much in place. The result was that scientists who paid more than lip service to objects close enough to encounter the Earth did so in an atmosphere of barely disguised contempt. Even now, it is difficult for laymen to appreciate the enormity of the intellectual blow with which most of the Body Scientific has recently been struck and from which it is now seeking to recover."
I stopped right there and asked myself: Hmmm... just what intellectual blow is he talking about here?Read more ›
The book starts with a graphic description of a fictional encounter between the Earth and a comet swarm. A 20 megaton comet impacts Nevada. Mistaking it with a nuclear strike from the Soviet Union, the US launches multiple nuclear missiles in retaliation. In the mean time, another hundred-megaton impact hits Belgium, wiping out the country and devastating much of Europe. A shower of smaller comet debris also peppers much of the Earth. When the Earth finally emerges from the swarm, much of its surface is in ruin.
After ensuring that your attention is sufficiently captured by this story, the authors go about presenting the evidence for their case. In part I, they gather various clues from myths and legends around the world that point to catasphophes in the past. What is interesting here is that they show that the Gods from the myths were probably not products of fiction but comets during a very active periods. They did move around in the sky and interfere in worldly affairs through their deadly bombardments.
That said, part II is where the meat of the book is. Here, the authors summarize the current scientific knowledge about comets and present it in a very accessible way. Of particular significance is information about the Taurid meteor stream, whose path the Earth crosses at the end of June and early November each year.Read more ›
He covers a lot of history and myth, which may bore the more hardcore scientist or casual reader, but it is necessary to comprehend all that follows. It also makes for a great review of some ancient history that I had otherwise been only marginally exposed to.
After covering the history and mythology he moves forward and gives us hard data, tons of it, regarding actual impact events. He brings three forth that have happened in the last thousand years that demonstrate these cosmic missiles can have the destructive equivalent of a multi-megaton nuclear explosion.
He then moves back in time and gives us more history, that of actual impacts and the records left by ancient societies. When you add up all the research done, all the data in this book, it's hypothesis becomes almost undeniable. It's amazing that so much evidence can be gathered and yet the mainstream scientific community is still in doubt, still perpetuating a theory that has been disproved over and over.
It's almost as if we're still in the age of Gallileo, and decrying the planet as round and revolving around the sun is treason against god and humanity! Seriously, if you want a solid education on the phenomenon and realistic ideas based on solid facts check out this book. It rocked, no pun intended.
The giant comets normally reside far beyond the planets, in a
spherical cloud surrounding the Sun, called the Oort cloud.
What prompts members of either of these comet repositories
to enter the realm of the planets? Clube and Napier suggest a galactic influence.
The basic mechanism is that the distribution of matter in the Galaxy
(including giant molecular clouds and possibly dark matter) is such that, as the
Sun moves above and below the Galactic mid-plane, the Oort Cloud of comets is
perturbed to such an extent that there would be intervals of enhanced flux of
long-period comets in the inner Solar system.
Each passage may dislodge giant comets and divert them closer to the Sun.
The outer planets, particularly Jupiter, may then perturb some of these giant
comets into orbits which enter the inner solar system. These comets, stressed
both by gravity and by heat from the sun, may fragment into a cloud of smaller
objects with dynamically similar orbits. The breaking up of a giant comet
produces a wide range of debris from objects 10 km across, to hundreds or
thousands of 1 km-sized bodies. Many of these bodies have sooty, black surfaces making them almost impossible to see. Many of them are in an orbit very similar to the Taurid meteor streams, though a few may be in an orbit rotated about 90 degrees. Clube & Napier posit that many (if not most or all) of the asteroids in the solar system split from a giant comet (or many of them) thousands or tens of thousands of years ago, and it is the streams of debris that pose the most serious and immediate threats to our planet.Read more ›