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Death from the Skies!: These Are the Ways the World Will End . . . Hardcover – October 16, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
- Publisher : Viking Adult; 0 edition (October 16, 2008)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 336 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0670019976
- ISBN-13 : 978-0670019977
- Reading age : 18 years and up
- Item Weight : 10.4 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.81 x 1.18 x 8.5 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,800,511 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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About half of the book deals with how the world most certainly will end - billions of years from now. I found that very interesting, but for some reason it didn't keep me awake at night. He gives lengthy explanations of the science behind the possible events he describes, which I found fascinating but might bore some people who just want an overview.
If you're looking for a comprehensive, yet easy to follow, explanation as to how supernovae, black holes, meteoroids, and the such can destroy the earth, this it a great book to buy. If you're looking for the cliff-note versions of these same topics, watch Phill Plaits PBS Crash Course videos on YouTube. He covers most of these topics and more, plus his videos have pretty graphics.
I gave it 4 stars not because I found the book lacking, but because it was a bit of a chore to read.
The book details the many ways that civilization, humanity, all life, and indeed the very planet itself could be destroyed by astronomical events from asteroid or comet impacts to the end of the universe itself. Each chapter is introduced by a short fictional vignette which brings catastrophe down to a personal level.
As interesting as the premise was the real value of the book turned out to be the education provided. My personal astronomical knowledge had become quite dated over the past few decades. Plait's book was a great way to be brought up to date and left me seeking out more detailed works.
Plait's style of writing probably won't be to every taste but I found it engaging and inviting. The clever footnotes dealt out humor, irony, sarcasm, and much else in rapid succession.
The Kindle edition was well formatted and everything worked well. A curious feature was that the captions to the illustrations were rendered as text instead of being part of the graphic which made them searchable. The major flaw was the entirely useless "index" with page numbers completely omitted even though this edition tracked the print page numbers. Indices are somewhat redundant with searchable text but if included they should be useable. The appendix of nearby supernova candidates (in graphic format) is also too small for easy reading. The epilogue has a table in it which can best be read by reducing font size.
Highly recommended. I look forward to Plait's future books.
"Death From The Skies" is the entertaining book about how the universe is trying to kill you. Astronomer Dr. Philip Plait, using the latest in astronomical knowledge, takes us on exciting journey through our universe and enlightens us on the various cosmological hazards that are present. This 336-page book is composed of the following nine chapters: 1. Target Earth: Asteroid and Comet Impacts, 2. Sunburn, 3. The Stellar Fury of Supernovae, 4. Cosmic Blowtorches: Gamma-Ray Bursts, 5. The Bottomless Pits of Black Holes, 6. Alien Attack!, 7. The Death of the Sun, 8. Bright Lights, Big Galaxy, and 9. The End of Everything.
1. A well-written, well-researched book that is accessible to the masses.
2. A truly fun way to learn about astronomy and the dangers lurking in our universe.
3. Engaging and humorous tone used.
4. Great format. Each chapter begins with a vignette that is chapter appropriate.
5. Great use of illustrations.
6. Thought-provoking quotes, "Nothing feeds engineering progress like fear".
7. So many fascinating facts that will "blow" you away. I learned so much from this book.
8. The danger of asteroids, and an interesting discussion about the asteroid that caused the extinction of the dinosaurs.
9. An education on the sun. Magnetic fields, flares, solar winds, and coronal mass ejections (CMEs).
10. Supernovas. The different ways stars blow up and the various features of it.
11. The various dangers resulting from novas, supernovas and hypernovas: X-rays, gamma rays and last but not least cosmic rays (CRs).
12. The topical neutrinos and other forms of light.
13. One of the great things about this book is the author's ability to tease the readers with how discoveries came about. As an example, the discovery of gamma-ray bursts (GRBs).
14. Neutron stars the heavy enlightening facts (you see what I did there, oh never mind).
15. An enlightening chapter about black holes. Absolutely mesmerizing.
16. What would a book about astronomy be without the great contributions from the one and only Albert Einstein?
17. A comprehensive look at gravity.
18. For horror fans...the process of spaghettification.
19. Educational brief history of our solar system.
20. Interesting look at the possibility of alien life. Are we alone?
21. The life and inevitable death of our sun. Enlightening indeed. The author does a wonderful job of breaking the life cycle of the sun by stages.
22. An education on galaxies. Our milky way and our neighbors.
23. Supermassive black holes (SMBHs)...oh yeah and every large galaxy has one.
24. The end of everything by stages.
25. The author does a wonderful job of summarizing the wisdom provided in the book. A table was provided that gives the odds of potential damage and our ability to prevent them.
26. An appendix about our nearby stars (less than 1,000 light-years) that will go supernova and all that entails.
1. The book should have had the illustrations in color. Astronomy is a topic that lends itself perfectly for it.
2. No bibliography but the author does make light of other books in particular is inspired by the "Five Ages of the Universe" by Adams and Laughlin.
In summary, who knew that astronomy could be so much fun? Dr. Plait has an engaging style that makes education fun. Astronomy is a fascinating topic and I learned quite a bit from of it. Science writing at its best don't hesitate to get this one. Highly recommended!
Top reviews from other countries
1) Repetitiveness: reading about the effect of gamma-ray burst once is really enough. The second time is slightly annoying, the third and the fourth simply spoil the pleasure.
2) Pointless information, given only with the purpose to impress: what is the point of telling me that as many as 300 billion muons per square inch can hit the Earth "from a nearby gamma-ray burst"? What does that "nearby" mean? How on earth does this information contribute to my knowledge?
Luckily, the last few chapters were such a feast for imagination that the book won my heart overall and I can recommend it with my conscience at ease.
That's exactly he is doing with his new book "Death From the Skies: These Are the Ways the World Will End". You maybe think that the title is intriguing. It is, but the book is much more intriguing, full of strange astronomical things and events that will spell the doom of Earth.
Asteroids, black holes, solar activity, the Sun becoming a red giant, supernovae and gamma-ray bursts, Alien Attack, Galactic collisions. Well that's it.... the end of world.
There is a huge amount of science in this book. Everything you need to know, to be prepared for the end of the planet and probably the end of cosmos. Which, by the way, is not going to affect you, unless you are planning to be around the next .....1000000 years. Then, you may discover how the dinosaurs felt when the asteroid hit the Earth.
Did I say that the book is also funny? Well, it is. It is a great joy to read. Every chapter stars with a small story. Some of them are excellent science fiction stories of their own. I really loved the Attack of the Aliens; I think it could make a fantastic disaster movie.
Even if you know nothing about astronomy, you will find this book very readable and interesting. Phil, explains everything very well and clearly, and he uses the correct analogies to describe scientific concepts that some may find difficult to understand. Nevertheless, as Phil writes, "Be prepared to stretch your mind a bit".
Talking about stretching, I particularly liked the description of the spaghettification process, when you are falling into a black hole. Maybe it is not the best way to be killed, but as Phil says "the journey there is half the fun".
Actually, the chapter about black holes is my favourite. All these details about the how black holes could destroy Earth, are so .... ouaouou!!! You will be dead by then, of course, unless we manage to build that powerful rocket to produce a thrust for us to escape the gravity of the black hole. Fascinating?
If you haven't yet read this book, do it. It is beautiful, enjoyable and very informative. You are not going to avoid the doom, but that is something you don't need to worry about.
This book describes all the ways the earth could be destroyed, by the sun, by asteroids and so on. Probably best not to read it if you are of a nervous disposition! Bad Astronomy: Misconceptions and Misuses Revealed, from Astrology to the Moon Landing Hoax (Bad Science)
This book is amazing, Written by the Bad Astronomer himself, it has all the ways the world could end, and little stories at the beginning.
One word though: Don't read this and fall asleep, the dreams aren't good (For me at least)
My faverite chapters have to be the Gamma Rays and Black holes. Gamma Rays are the scariest as we would have no warning of when they come..
Definetely worth it!