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Venus Revealed: A New Look Below The Clouds Of Our Mysterious Twin Planet Paperback – April 10, 1998


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books (April 10, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0201328399
  • ISBN-13: 978-0201328394
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,561,263 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

In a book that is as much romantic as purely scientific, David Harry Grinspoon combines historical perspective on the nearby planet Venus and data from recent observations, notably the Magellan spacecraft's detailed mapping of the planet's surface and gravitational field. In a lighthearted way, Grinspoon conveys the vast body of knowledge that scientists have recently acquired about the planet that is often called our "twin," despite its metal-melting surface temperatures and runaway greenhouse effect. (Could we learn something about our own climate in observing that of Venus?) In a fun though perhaps overconfident section, Grinspoon even argues that the likelihood that life once existed on Venus is as high as for Mars--an intriguing possibility, especially if evidence that life once existed on Mars becomes stronger. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

University of Colorado-Boulder planetary scientist Grinspoon clearly loves the subject of this exemplary work, the unfolding of our knowledge of "Earth's Twin." As a principal scientist on the recent Magellan mission to Venus, he quite naturally focuses on that project's discoveries, but his book is rich as well in anecdotes about correct and incorrect speculations, blind alleys and spectacular surprises as human knowledge of our sister planet grew over the centuries. Grinspoon himself winds up speculating about non-carbon-based life on Venus and about the possibility that carbon-based life began there and migrated here on meteorites four billion years ago. Though some might view this concept as outrageous, his irreverent style and his admission that he is indulging in a flight of fancy with serious intent make his final chapter, like all his others, great fun as well as greatly informative. At important points in the book, Grinspoon leaves Venus and returns to Earth, highlighting the way people do-and love-science, the relationship between big science and national defense projects, the vagaries of government funding and, most important, our role as custodians and manipulators of our fragile environment. His book is full of quirky facts, references to popular culture, clever similes and inventive and revealing metaphors and analogies. Even the footnotes are entertaining. But Grinspoon remains true to his serious purpose, concluding that "the most important benefit of planetary explanation will be self-knowledge.... We should treasure every bit of knowledge and insight Venus can provide. It's the only twin we've got." Photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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It is also very fascinating to read about the surface and atmosphere and properties of Venus.
Matthew P. Whitehead
I think the author introduced Gaia to expand the reader's understanding of what is life and what is a planet.
David Forel
The text itself is clear, accurate and very entertaining to read (especially the footnotes!).
Joan Roch

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on February 24, 2003
Format: Paperback
Anyone that wonders why humans should continue to invest in space exploration--especially important at this time of tragedy with the Columbia mission--will find many answers in this excellent book. Grinspoon is one of those rare writers that enthralls us with the mystery and wonder of science, while at the same time not shying away from, or diminishing the complexities of scientific discovery. He describes with clarity why studies of other planets are important endeavors in their own right, as well as for our continued understanding of our own planet Earth.
All readers will gain an appreciation from Grinspoon for scientific discovery: how it builds with improving data from insights that at first seem remote and uncertain into solid foundations for better understanding of issues such as global warming on earth. Volcanology, plate tectonics, acid rain, and planetary climatology are all discussed in detail, as well as the more esoteric phenomena of planet formation and extra-terrestrial life. While the later topics might be argued as to their importance with regard to current problems on our planet, Grinspoon makes excellent connections for studies of the former issues on Venus, and their impact to our knowledge of our own home planet. Anything that significantly improves our understanding of global warming, plate tectonics (earthquakes), etc., is worth a significant and continuing investment. Venus Revealed is great book in many respects: lack of a bibliography is the only fault worth mentioning. (And I, for one, loved the often hilarious footnotes!) Highly recommended.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 13, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Venus Revealed by David Grinspoon is one of the best popular-level astronomy books of the 1990s. It is full of substantial information, yet is entertaining and suspenseful. In this regard, it resembles books such as Black Holes and Time Warps by Kip Thorne; The Alchemy of the Heavens by Ken Croswell; and Lonely Hearts of the Cosmos by Dennis Overbye. Venus Revealed traces astronomers' knowledge of the planet Venus--from ancient times, when it was merely a beautiful object in the morning or evening sky, to the era of telescopic observations, which gave rise to fanciful speculations about life, and finally to the modern era of spacecraft, which revealed the true nature of Venus: a dry, torrid world with an atmosphere 90 times thicker than Earth's. Two minor complaints about the book: the numerous footnotes are often silly, and the book lacks a bibliography. Venus Revealed is definitely a lot more appealing than its inhospitable subject.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Joan Roch on October 30, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Besides a excellent historical and scientifical synthesis of the Venusian system, this book does a good job at comparing the three main terrestrial planets, from the astronomical, physical, geological, atmospheric, etc. point of views. This is very refreshing because Venus is often overlooked in most books, that usually focus more on the binary comparison of Mars vs the Earth, and, in many ways, Terra is actually closer to Venus than Mars.
The text itself is clear, accurate and very entertaining to read (especially the footnotes!). Everything is based on scientific facts, except the last chapter, that digresses a little too much from the main subject, but it's ok.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Tim F. Martin on April 22, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
_Venus Revealed_ by David Harry Grinspoon is a well-written, witty, thoroughly researched book on our nearest planetary neighbor, the planet Venus, often thought of as Earth's twin due to its roughly same size and mass. Grinspoon covered the history of human perception of the planet, the observation of Venus by scientists from the ground through the centuries, what the amateur astronomer can see and learn about the planet, the saga of the numerous probes to orbit the planet as well as it enter its atmosphere and even land on its surface, current understandings of the atmosphere and geology of Venus, and speculations on whether or not Venus has or had life and the future of human exploration of the planet. There are two inserts in the book, one a color insert that included a color image of the surface of Venus made by the Soviet _Venera 13_ lander in March 1982 as well as several global and regional topographic maps made by the _Pioneer Venus Orbiter_ and _Magellan_, and a black and white insert which included more Soviet lander images of the ground of Venus as well as numerous close-ups taken by _Magellan_ of a wide variety of Venusian surface features. In the text of the book itself I really liked the various diagrams included, including schematics of the sulfur cycle on Venus and a diagram of typical cloud structure. _Magellan_ images are dominant in the book, an extraordinary space probe that peeled back the "bright, unyielding clouds" with "gentle radar fingers," revealing massive amounts of new information for Venus scientists to ponder and debate over.

Venus has long attracted human attention, as it is the brightest object in the night sky after the full moon.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Matthew P. Whitehead on May 28, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I loved reading this book! It describes the cultural, historical and scientific aspects of Venus. For instance, it discusses the significance that ancient cultures placed on Venus (the brightest planet when visible). It also discusses perceptions (and some speculation) that people have had of Venus at various times in history. Then it discusses in detail the scientific discoveries of Venus, by radar and spacecraft. It discusses the politics and development of radar and spacecraft, as well as the actual scientific discoveries made at different times. It is also very fascinating to read about the surface and atmosphere and properties of Venus. It is also interesting how the author compares Venus to Earth in these areas. Although it is obvious that Venus would be a very hostile planet to visit, it is indeed a very fascinating planet to study. In terms of land features, I think that the author points out that Venus is actually similar to Earth in many ways (though also with some of its own characteristics). I highly recommend this book for anyone who is interested in the planet Venus in particular, or in the solar system in general.
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