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Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs: The Astounding Interconnectedness of the Universe First Edition Edition

4.2 out of 5 stars 174 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0062328472
ISBN-10: 0062328476
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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Successful science writing tells a complete story of the ‘how’-the methodical marvel building up to the ‘why’-and Randall does just that.” (New York Times Book Review)

“A cracking read, combining storytelling of the highest order with a trove of information on subjects as diverse as astrophysics, evolutionary biology, geology and particle physics. What’s remarkable is that it all fits together.” (Wall Street Journal)

“The universe, Randall eloquently argues, is an organic thing, a symphonic thing, with all its myriad parts contributing their own notes.” (Time Magazine)

“Randall succeeds in guiding the reader through the history of the cosmos and the Earth from the Big Bang to the emergence of life as we know it in a fun and captivating way. . . . [This is] a very enjoyable read for both lay readers and scientists.” (Science Magazine)

“The nature of the impactor remains unknown, but if it was indeed a comet dislodged from the Oort Cloud, then Randall’s book provides an entertaining and radical explanation of the events leading up to their ultimate extinction.” (Philadelphia Inquirer)

“Through Randall’s brilliant research we see a universe unfold that is far grander than anyone at any time could have imagined… She is a progressive thinker, a visionary capable of bridging the vast gulf between speculation and reality science.” (San Francisco Book Review)

“Randall, a Harvard professor, is one of the world’s leading experts on particle physics and cosmology. In Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs, she takes readers on an illuminating scientific adventure, beginning 66 million years ago, that connects dinosaurs, comets, DNA, and the future of the planet.” (Huffington Post)

“Brilliant and thought provoking…The greatest strength of Randall’s book is that it lacks any overly academic jargon and is reasonably easy to understand. Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs illustrates beautifully that there is so much left to be discovered about ourselves and the universe that we call home.” (BUST)

“The nature of the impactor remains unknown, but if it was indeed a comet dislodged from the Oort Cloud, then Randall’s book provides an entertaining and radical explanation of the events leading up to their ultimate extinction.” (Physics World)

“The nature of the impactor remains unknown, but if it was indeed a comet dislodged from the Oort Cloud, then Randall’s book provides an entertaining and radical explanation of the events leading up to their ultimate extinction.” (WHYY Radio Times)

“Mind-blowing. . . . If [Randall is] correct. . . . it would be a revolution in human thought every bit as gargantuan as that precipitated by Copernicus. (House of Speakeasy Blog)

“The nature of the impactor remains unknown, but if it was indeed a comet dislodged from the Oort Cloud, then Randall’s book provides an entertaining and radical explanation of the events leading up to their ultimate extinction.” (On Being with Krista Tippett)

“[Randall’s] is a fascinating, tantalizing theory, linking life on Earth-or the extinction thereof-with the very origins of our universe.” (Publishers Weekly, Starred Review)

“Engrossing in its own right, this theory opens onto an illuminating survey of the cutting-edge science now deployed to test its components, including its daring redefinition of dark matter. As she did in Warped Passages (2005) and Knocking on Heaven’s Door (2011), Randall delivers intellectual exhilaration.” (Booklist, Starred Review)

“Writing in a deceptively chatty narrative style, Randall provides a fascinating window into the excitement of discovery and the rigor required to test and elaborate new hypotheses. A top-notch science book from a leading researcher.” (Kirkus, Starred Review)

Only Lisa Randall can take us on such a thrilling scientific journey—from dinosaurs to DNA to comets to dark matter and to past and future of our species. Randall’s research is so thorough, the story so powerful, and her storytelling so compelling that I could not put this book down.” (Siddhartha Mukherjee, author of Emperor of All Maladies)

“The nature of the impactor remains unknown, but if it was indeed a comet dislodged from the Oort Cloud, then Randall’s book provides an entertaining and radical explanation of the events leading up to their ultimate extinction.” (Walter Kirn, author of Blood Will Out and Up In the Air)

“The wonder and curiosity Lisa Randall so obviously feels about our world and the universe itself is evident on every page. [Randall] render[s] complex subject matter into a gripping page-turner that is impossible to put down. Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs is a fascinating, mind-expanding experience.” (Augusten Burroughs, author of This is How and Running with Scissors)

“Lisa Randall has produced an intriguing, insightful book that brilliantly weaves together the disparate subjects of cosmology and biology. . . . A simple, elegant theory that finally makes sense of mass extinctions. A must read for anyone interested in the precariousness of life on earth.” (Jack Horner, MacArthur Fellow and author of How To Build a Dinosaur)

“Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs is . . . a masterpiece of science writing: a detective story that illuminates the nature of scientific research while explaining how our very existence may be connected to unexpected properties of the dark matter that fills the universe.” (Kip Thorne, Feynman Professor of Theoretical Physics at CalTech)

“A provocative and revealing account of how scientists like herself are uncovering deep connections between human existence and the wider universe. A terrific read.” (Timothy Ferris, author of Coming of Age in the Milky Way and Seeing in the Dark)

“World-renowned physicist Lisa Randall brings a fresh twist to one of the world’s oldest murder mysteries, the death of the dinos. With lively writing and wonderfully accessible explanations, she now convincingly implicates a new suspect as ultimately responsible for the hit: a novel kind of dark matter.” (Max Tegmark, physicist and author of Our Mathematical Universe)

“It’s a tall order to cover everything from the Big Bang to today’s ongoing Sixth Extinction in a consistently engaging way for a general audience. Particle physicist Randall delivers, peppering serious science with anecdotes about Roombas and fortune cookie messages.” (Discover Magazine)

“By grounding one in the principles of cosmology, particle physics, geology, astrophysics, paleontology and meteoritics, Randall provides the reader with a broad spectrum look at not only the world around them, but the worlds around that world, the galaxies and galactic clusters, filaments, sheets and, eventually, the Universe.” (Paste)

From the Back Cover

Bestselling author of Warped Passages and Knocking on Heaven's Door and one of today's most influential and highly cited theo-retical physicists, Professor Lisa Randall once again effortlessly delivers fascinating science to the general reader. Weaving together the cosmos' his-tory and our own in an expanding intellectual adventure story, Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs takes us from the mysteries of dark matter and our cosmic environment to the conditions for life on Earth.

Sixty-six million years ago, an object the size of a city descended from space to crash into Earth, creating a cata-clysm that killed off the dinosaurs, along with three-quarters of the other species on the planet. What was its origin? Randall proposes it was a comet that was dislodged from its orbit as the Solar System passed through a disk of dark matter that is embedded in the plane of the Milky Way. Her research challenges the usual assumptions about the simple nature of dark matter and demonstrates how scientists formulate and establish new ideas. In a sense, it might have been dark matter that killed the dinosaurs.

With her unique and wide-ranging perspective, Randall connects dark matter to the history of the world in the broadest terms. Bringing in pop culture and social and political viewpoints, she shares with us the latest findings—established and speculative—regarding dark matter, the cosmos, the galaxy, asteroids, comets, and impacts, as well as life's development and extinctions. Randall makes clear how connected the planet is to the makeup of the Universe, but also how fragile our place in the Universe, which evolved over billions of years, might be.

In this brilliant and fresh exploration of our cosmic environment, Professor Randall explains the underlying science of our world in the breathtaking tale of a Universe in which the small and the large, the visible and the hidden are intimately related. Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs illuminates the deep relationships that are critical to our world as well as the astonishing beauty of the structures and connections that surround us. It's impossible to read this book and look at either Earth or sky again in the same way.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Ecco; First Edition edition (October 27, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062328476
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062328472
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.3 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (174 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #15,233 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Paul Moskowitz TOP 1000 REVIEWER on November 2, 2015
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
At one time it was said that Lisa Randall was the most cited theoretical physicist with about 10,000 citations. This is no easy achievement. She has now written a fascinating story about dark matter. Her previous books were: “Warped Passages” about the role of extra dimensions and “Knocking on Heaven's Door” about the Higgs particle. The latter contained the best explanation of the Higgs that I have read. This new book requires less of a technical background to understand. It is the easiest to read.

“Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs” combines stars, galaxies, comets, meteors, particle interactions, and of course dinosaurs. What could be better? The book is well written and totally fascinating. We know of the existence of dark matter by its effects on ordinary matter, in particular, through the rotational speed of galaxies, and also by its role in the gravitational lensing of light. Dark matter permeates the universe. There is five times as much dark matter as there is ordinary matter. We also think that the dinosaurs died 66 million years ago when a large meteoroid, e.g., comet or asteroid, crashed into the Earth.

Is there a connection between dark matter and the extinction of the dinosaurs? Did a dark matter disk lying in the plane of our galaxy nudge the meteoroid into a collision course with the Earth? As an atomic/nuclear physicist I am captivated by the idea that dark matter may form atom-like objects.
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Format: Hardcover
Noted theoretical and experimental physicist Lisa Randall offers a spellbinding account of her current research into dark matter and how it relates to other cutting-edge science in astrophysics and geology in her latest book, “Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs: The Astounding Interconnectedness of the Universe”. This is a riveting exploration into how science is done, describing in ample detail not only her research, but also notable ones from paleontologists, planetary geologists, and other geologists pointing to the likely culprit for the terminal Cretaceous mass extinction (66 million years ago). The “Great Dying” that wiped out nearly two-thirds of Earth’s biota, not only the non-avian dinosaurs, but also other terrestrial organisms and those dwelling in the late Cretaceous oceans, ranging in size from relatively miniscule single-celled planktic foraminifera to titanic mososaurs resembling the one in the film “Jurassic World”. An extraterrestrial culprit, a comet, its motion disturbed enough by unseen dark matter, altering its remote Oort Cloud orbit into one spelling doomsday for much of Earth’s biota.

As the subtitle of “Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs: The Astounding Interconnectedness of the Universe” suggests, Randall covers much ground in her lucid explanations of relevant aspects of cosmology, planetary geology, paleontology and particle physics, frequently relying on pop cultural and political references recognizable to American readers. She literally boldly goes where no one else has gone before in her informed scientific speculation, proposing that a unique form of dark matter was responsible ultimately for the great K-Pg – for Cretaceous/Paleogene – mass extinction.
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Format: Hardcover
I’m one of the many types of people this book was written for. I’m the type that has trouble retaining scientific concepts in my head for longer than five minutes or so. Which is why I’m glad that one of Lisa Randall’s special talents is explaining complicated ideas in a way that even I can understand. And actually enjoy. And hopefully remember.
Moreover, the very breadth of her vision and her goal here is astounding (like the interconnectedness of the Universe!). What she herself had to study, learn about, and gain an understanding of in fields far beyond her native physics is impressive, but necessary to elucidate her speculative but grounded theories. She’s always been a pioneer so it’s especially exciting to be along for the ride as she contributes to a new interpretation of what was (and could in future be) a cataclysmic event.
As someone who not only “commits” science but is capable of explaining it so well, Dr. Randall always seems to add a layer in her writing that emphasizes not just her theories and discoveries but the very process that underpins them. And she doesn’t see science as a thing separate from our culture in general. She’s always connecting them. Frequently in an amusing, and always thought-provoking way. This focus on how we know what we know, and what we don’t know, and how we can go about learning more is something that is very much needed in the world. With this book, Dr. Randall adds another strong argument for why we need to science the s—t out of the challenges we face today (as The Martian would say).
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