- Series: MacSci
- Paperback: 320 pages
- Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin (March 13, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0230120741
- ISBN-13: 978-0230120747
- Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 0.9 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 41 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #579,908 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Power of the Sea: Tsunamis, Storm Surges, Rogue Waves, and Our Quest to Predict Disasters (MacSci)
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From Publishers Weekly
In this educational account, professor (at the Stevens Institute of New Jersey) and scientist Parker examines the violent impact of the seas on human society, and our long struggle to understand them. Parker begins with an exploration of tidal forces and their role in major historical events, from the parting of the Red Sea to D-Day. He moves on to hurricanes, rogue waves, and tsunamis, ending with the catastrophic 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and following tsunamis that killed more than 225,000 people. As Parker describes these sea-spawned disasters, he also documents the slow growth of scientific knowledge that gives us a chance to predict and prepare for them. Parker is more scholar than storyteller, and at times he loses the drama of his subject. Long discussions of such topics as "Laplace tidal equations" and "geophysical fluid dynamics" give the sense of a first-year lecture on oceanography. Nevertheless, any reader with an interest in the subject will appreciate Parker's expertise. Parker is optimistic about our ability to manage the dangers of the seas, but as the events of 2004 demonstrated, in spite of all we've learned, they still have the power to render us helpless. (Nov.) (c)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
As Parker pithily states, humanity’s primary defense against a violent sea is to get out of its way; but evading the sea’s wrath requires advance notice. Hence prediction is the focal point of Parker’s narrative, and a lively, story-driven one it is. A scientist formerly affiliated with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Parker illustrates progress in foreseeing danger though numerous historical instances reaching back to antiquity. The near-deaths of Alexander the Great and Napoléon, who were surprised by tides, open Parker’s discussion of that topic. He twins observers’ collection of data with theorists’ ideas about the cause of tides to illustrate the advance toward modern understanding, adducing Newton’s solution of the problem and the application of tidal knowledge to battles of WWII. The data/theory historical structure guides Parker’s treatment of succeeding subjects of vital contemporary concern, such as hurricanes and storm surges, giant rogue waves, tsunamis, and rising sea level. Riveting readers with analyses of catastrophes such as the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, Parker delivers science in dramatic and digestible form. --Gilbert Taylor --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Parker talks about a wide range of basic scientific information relevant to the creating of natural oceanic processes, or to processes of interacting systems which cause the massive storms. The most heavily covered topic in the book is the natural disaster that occurred in the Indian Ocean on December 26, 2004. The earthquake caused a massive displacement of water which hit land before news of the wave's existence reached the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.
Personally, I think that someone will need to be very interested in the topic to enjoy this book. Despite the stories, it is still fairly dense, and not extremely informative. While you may learn a few things from the book, the science is not detailed enough for anyone to gain a thorough understanding of what causes these storms. While I am fairly critical of Parker for not providing what I think of as a sufficient learning experience, I would be remiss, however, if I did not take the time to applaud the expertise of Bruce Parker. The notes and citations section at the end of the book span over 50 pages for a reason. Parker clearly researched the topic heavily, and used a lot of stories to depict the unpredictability and power of the ocean.
The book tells the story of our long struggle to understand the physics of the sea so we can use that knowledge to predict when the sea will unleash its power against us (so we can get out of its way and survive). It interweaves stories of unpredicted natural disasters with stories of scientific discoveries, beginning with ancient mankind's ideas about the sea and working up to our latest technological advances in predicting the sea's moments of destruction.
And it does so in an accessible way to general audiences.
Over the centuries, while scientists and mariners have been trying to learn how to predict the motions of the sea, the sea has killed millions, destroyed untold billions of dollars in property, and had an enormous impact on history. The 300,000 lives lost to the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, the millions lost to storms surges in Bangladesh and India over the centuries, and the thousands of ships lost at sea to rogue waves, are but a few tragic examples portrayed in this book. Besides the three phenomena in the book's subtitle (tsumanis, storm surges, and rogue waves) the book includes the history of how we learned to predict the tides, El Nino, and certain aspects of climate change.
Many people will find the book both fascinating and entertaining, mainly because of the colorful historical stories. It really shows the impact of marine science on people's