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"T. rex" and the Crater of Doom (Princeton Science Library) With a New Foreword by Carl Zimmer Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 78 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0691131030
ISBN-10: 0691131031
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

One of the great mysteries is what happened to the dinosaurs, and it has taken great detective work to give us an answer. In T. Rex and the Crater of Doom, some brilliant, not to mention determined, scientists roam the world and seek out the clues. What they conclude is that the earth withstood a colossal impact with a meteor (or perhaps a comet) 65 million years ago. The resulting cataclysm destroyed half the life on the planet.

Walter Alvarez, a geologist at the University of California at Berkeley, and one of the four scientists who present this theory on the mystery, tells the story in a clear narrative that contains a wealth of scientific material. The book does require an investment of attention, but the presentation is quite readable, and the story itself is fascinating. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

When Nobel prize-winning physicist Louis Alvarez and his geophysicist son Walter announced that they had discovered evidence of a giant meteor that slammed into Earth 65 million years ago, causing the extinction of the dinosaurs, they were met with much fanfare from the popular press and skepticism from the scientific community. The Alvarezes were vindicated in 1991 when a huge impact crater was discovered on the Yucatan Peninsula, and the possible connection with dinosaur extinction is becoming more widely accepted. After a vivid description imagining the global devastation that would be caused by such an impact, Alvarez offers a first-person account of the discovery. It's a nicely told and well-written tale of scientific discovery, and though he occasionally comes across as a bit smug, Alvarez is quite generous in crediting objectors for helping show the direction to improve and refine the theory with further research. This informal, readable book is appropriate for high school readers on up, and the subject has strong popular appeal.?Amy Brunvand, Univ. of Utah Lib., Salt Lake City
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Series: Princeton Science Library
  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press; With a New Foreword by Carl Zimmer edition (July 21, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691131031
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691131030
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 6.3 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (78 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #745,706 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
The strong points in this book are these:
1) it is a thoroughly entertaining detailed account of the discovery of the causes for the mass extinction which occurred at the K-T boundary, and
2) it provides an insightful anaylsis of the many pitfalls, lucky strikes, and false trails which are characterstic of any process of true scientific discovery. As such it reminds us of how careful and open-minded scientists need to be in dealing with new insights and discoveries.
For those who are trained scientists, the book is mainly written for the layperson, especially the geological aspects, but that is fine, because as a geologist I am strongly of the view that we need more geological education and understanding in the general community. It is fine if science is written simplistically as long as it is accurate. Walter Alvalrez, for the most part, with perhaps a few exceptions, has managed to achieve this careful tension. The book is not an overview of the various theories and developments concerning mass extinction events, but rather a story of the search told by some who have been deeply involved. Therefore the fact that it doesn't provide an objective overview of the available theories, whilst true, is not really relevant here; Walter Alvarez is telling a story of mostly his own experiences, and those with whom he has worked. As long as this is understood, the book is educational, entertaining, and a thoroughly enjoyable read.
I would like to add for those with some knowledge of geological science, that we have some very good exposures of the Permian-Triassic boundary in Australia, which Mr Alvarez notes is not so common in the northern hemisphere.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you're over 30, you've lived through the period during which extinction of the dinosaurs by catastrophic means was debated and explained. At first Luis Alvarez and his son, Walter, were ridiculed for their explanation of what happened at the Cretaceous/Tertiary or K/T boundary.

Walter's book explains the chronology of events in a very readable fashion -- much less academic than the style of Stephen Gould and others. Its a story that tells how father and son found a way to work together, despite very different professions. It also shows how different disciplines worked together, across borders and countries.

What's surprising is how quickly evidence began to accumulate to support the Alvarez' theory. And its interesting to see where they might have been sidetracked or made critical mistakes, were it not for good scientific practice
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Format: Paperback
This is the story of the discovery of why the dinosaurs -- and so many other creatures -- went extinct at the end of the Cretaceous period, 65 million years ago. Walter Alvarez was a young geologist who discovered an "iridium anomaly" in a deposit at the Cretaceous/Tertiary boundary that strongly suggested that an extraterrestrial event of massive effect had happened then. He was joined by his father, Luis Alvarez, a physicist at Berkeley, in the pursuit of the significance of this finding. It seems hard to believe, but most geologists were reluctant to posit anything like a meteor strike as being a significant factor in Earth's history, preferring to explain everything by invoking gradual processes.
Yet it became clear early on that something big had happened, and various candidates were mooted, such as a nearby supernova, or a companion star to the sun periodically throwing comet orbits out of whack. This book is the story of how geologists, chemists, physicists and others over more than a decade closed in on the solution -- a massive impact in the Yucatan Penninsula whose after-effects shrouded the Earth in darkness for many months -- starting with that original discovery back in 1977. This is a reasonably lightweight account, but with enough details to give the reader a good idea of the technical problems without descending into jargon. When you are done you don't really know much more geology than when you started, but you might wish you had become a geologist, because the field trips sure seem like a lot of fun.
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Format: Paperback
Easier reading level than the Powell book, and more suitable for children and teens interested in the topic of the K-T impact extinction.
This title is more of a first person memoir of the development of the theory and not as detailed or as frank about the political aspects of the struggle as the Powell book. Dewey McLean, one of the proponents of a terrestrial, gradual, volcanic cause for the K-T extinction claimed that the elder Alvarez had threatened to ruin his career, and claimed a low level of debate and personal attacks. Even from the quotes here it appears that the late Luis Alvarez took a seemingly unscholarly approach toward those that didn't accept the impact scenario from the outset.
Longstanding objections to the impact extinction -- such as the Deccan Traps, which have been conclusively shown to be of the wrong date and have had little impact on the dinosaur populations nearest to it -- are examined, but see "Night Comes to the Cretaceous" by James Lawrence Powell for a better and more adult oriented book on the same topic and a more detailed examination.
See also "Rain of Iron and Ice" by John S. Lewis.
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