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Apocalypse When?: Calculating How Long the Human Race Will Survive (Springer Praxis Books) 2009th Edition

4.8 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0387098364
ISBN-10: 0387098364
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Editorial Reviews

Review

Wells has built up a sufficient ''preponderance of evidence'' that requires his final conclusions to be taken seriously. ... The risk of extinction is currently3% per decade ... the risk of a lesser catastrophic event ... is 10% per decade.  ''Unless the population plummets soon, a near-extinction event will likely occur within the lifetime of today's infants.'' The irony again is that since some of us would survive a near-extinction event, the probability for our long-term survival as a species is not all that bad, being roughly 70%. - J. J. Watkins, Mathematical Intelligencer, V.34, pp.71-2

From the reviews:

“After introducing the reader to key ideas in probability and statistics, Wells starts to develop ideas of probability based first on random-hazard rates … and then ideas based on our own history of survival as a species, and as a civilization. … the book reasonably accessible to the general reader … . The book is well organized, and is written in an easy style … .” (Robert Connon Smith, The Observatory, Vol. 131 (1222), June, 2011)
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Product Details

  • Series: Springer Praxis Books
  • Paperback: 200 pages
  • Publisher: Praxis; 2009 edition (June 30, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0387098364
  • ISBN-13: 978-0387098364
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,176,256 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By R. Weverka on March 27, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
He is methodical and his logic is solid and he predicts the end of civilization is near. So I spent some time trying to refute this book and I can't. The author has presented this line of reasoning in lectures and found that no one takes his prediction with the weight that it deserves. He faults the audience members, but I suspect most people following this line of argument go into denial. It is natural when faced with the news of our demise to go into denial or try to fight the reasoning behind this.

It is like the behavior of people in a company that is failing and nearing its end. I've seen this a few times where many hold on to the notion that it will turn around, and they ride it all the way into the ground.

There is in the book a few hints of what could save us, but each is given little chance of succeeding. The optimist in me will fight for one of these. The scientist in me will continue to seek a flaw in Well's reasoning. The denial in me will try to push it out of my mind.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I liked the title and thought it was worth a look.

This book is a journey of logic through the creative mind of Dr. Wells. His look at how much time we have on this planet is reasoned through the examination of other systems which have the desire to survive, such as theater productions and business enterprises. He also presents a number of scenarios of how we might extend or reduce the time of our occupancy. As a non-mathematician, I found the book clearly logical and readable. I'm sure a more math oriented reader would find the scientific reasoning to be well supported as Dr. Wells is very thorough in his presentation.

I found the book to be enjoyable and at times, worth a good chuckle or a laugh. His humor is fresh and his thoughts of what can ultimately eradicate or severely diminish our species are original and serious with the addition of some I had never considered: killer phytoplankton, for example.

Dr. Wells is a noted physicist and creator of "The Wells Principle" which he developed to stabilize satellites in orbit in the earlier days of our space program.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Purchased for a friend after checking it out personally. A unique book, with good substantiation.
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Format: Paperback
We mathematicians smugly ignore the claims of apocalyptic cults. Such claims are illogical. Harold Camping's double predictions of apocalypse in 2011 were nonsense. The Mayan calendar based apocalyptic predictions for 2012 are nonsense. But the claims in this book, "Apocalypse When?", by Willard Wells are worrisome. His logic is infallible and his mathematics is correct. Dr. Wells is a physicist and engineer with an outstanding record of successfully applying mathematics to real world problems. He is one of a distinguished group of fourteen Ph.D. students of the late Nobel Prize winning physicist, Richard Feynman.

Whether or not you are a mathematician, the way to read this book is as follows: read the Introduction, pages 1-9, and then read Chapter 5, pages 93 - 133. Together, these pages give an excellent introduction to how and why an apocalypse may occur. No mathematics is required. Next, read Chapter 4 and study the graphs. Finally, go through Chapters 2 and 3 and check the mathematical derivations.

At some point in reading this material, I suggest you take a break and watch the movie Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. Give sympathetic thought to the plight of the residents of Barterville because this will be the situation for the isolated pockets of humanity left over from an apocalypse that results in the collapse of human civilization (probability of 50% in the next 100 years, Figure 27, page 89 of "Apocalypse When?"). Ironically, Well's shows that such a collapse of civilization is the most sure way to prevent total destruction of our species. All who are interested in the survival of themselves, their children and their grandchildren should support the creation of self sufficient, independent communities and be wary of global economic and technological dependence. If you want to convince others to join you in this project, read this excellent book.
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