Earth-Shattering : Violent Supernovas, Galactic Explosions, Biological Mayhem, Nuclear Meltdowns, and Other Hazards to Life in Our Universe
by Berman, Bob







Author's Notexi
PART I CATACLYSMS IN THE HEAVENS
Chapter 1 Cataclysms
1(10)
Chapter 2 It Really Was a Big Bang
11(9)
Chapter 3 The Death of Cousin Theia
20(9)
Chapter 4 Spooky Things That Went Bang
29(12)
Chapter 5 Blame It on the Supernova
41(12)
Chapter 6 Armageddon Monument
53(12)
Chapter 7 Tycho Versus Kepler: Dueling Detonations
65(9)
Chapter 8 When Galaxies Collide
74(6)
Chapter 9 Magnetic Violence
80(4)
Chapter 10 The Lethal Antimatter Fountain
84(5)
Chapter 11 Dangerous Bubbles
89(5)
Chapter 12 The Exploding Galaxy Next Door
94(5)
Chapter 13 Waiting for a Carrington Cataclysm
99(9)
Chapter 14 Can We Trust Space Itself?
108(15)
Chapter 15 The Final Supernova
123(6)
Chapter 16 The 2017 Kilonova
129(8)
PART II CATACLYSMS OF EARTH
Chapter 17 The Oxygen Holocaust
137(4)
Chapter 18 The Greatest Mass Extinction
141(6)
Chapter 19 The Dino Saur Show Gets Canceled
147(8)
Chapter 20 Snowball Earth
155(6)
Chapter 21 The Plague
161(8)
Chapter 22 Just the Flu
169(6)
Chapter 23 The Second World War
175(3)
Chapter 24 Nuclear Cataclysms
178(10)
Chapter 25 A New State Capital?
188(7)
Chapter 26 Secrets of Chernobyl
195(9)
Chapter 27 The Hybrid Cataclysm
204(9)
Chapter 28 That Thermonuclear Business
213(15)
Chapter 29 Modern Meteors and Flipping Poles
228(8)
Chapter 30 When It Sure Seemed Like the Apocalypse
236(11)
Chapter 31 Invading Our Bodies Today
247(10)
PART III TOMORROW'S CATACLYSMS
Chapter 32 Collision with Andromeda
257(8)
Chapter 33 Upcoming Cataclysms
265(6)
Chapter 34 Holocene Extinction
271(5)
Chapter 35 The Sun Has the Last Word
276(7)
Acknowledgments283(2)
Notes285(12)
Index297


A heart-pumping exploration of the biggest explosions in history, from the Big Bang to mysterious activity on Earth and everything in between

The overwhelming majority of celestial space is inactive, and will remain forever unruffled. Similarly, more than 90% of the universe's 70 billion trillion suns had non-attention-getting births and are living out their existences in a steady predictable fashion. But when cosmic violence does unfold, it changes the very fabric of the universe with mega-explosions and ripple effects that reach the near limits of human comprehension. From exploding galaxies to supernovas and hypernovas to gamma ray bursts and space-and-time warping upheavals, these moments are rare yet powerful, often unseen but consequentially felt.

In Cataclysms, Astronomy writer Bob Berman guides us through an epic, all-inclusive investigation into these instances of cosmic violence of the largest-magnitude. He will explore the sudden creation of dazzling "new stars," the furiously explosive birth of our own Moon, how every moment ultra-high energy cosmic rays continue to bombard us, despite the Earth's protective mechanisms, and even the ways in which humanity itself has harnessed cataclysmic energy for its own gain. It will lead us humans, seemingly hard wired to enjoy fireworks, to savor the all-time greatest pyrotechnic displays - and the strange objects that arose from them, including the very materials Nature has used to fashion our brains.





Bob Berman, one of America's top astronomy writers, is the author of Zapped, Zoom, and The Sun's Heartbeat. He contributed the popular "Night Watchman" column for Discover for seventeen years and is currently a columnist for Astronomy, a host on Northeast Public Radio, and the science editor of The Old Farmer's Almanac. He lives in Willow, New York.





It seems like ever since humans first appeared on this planet, we've obsessed over potential horrific cataclysms that could end us all. Prolific science-writer Berman (Zapped, 2017) here considers all sorts of literally earth-shattering events, from cosmic collisions and exploding black holes to earthquakes and tsunamis. In straightforward, accessible tech talk, he explains the science behind each phenomenon and muses about its actual potential to take us out, often incorporating a little pop culture (Scotty fretting over losing containment in the Enterprise's propulsion system) or macabre humor (trying to imagine citizens stampeding through streets, sf-movie style). Each brief chapter looks at another horror, such as pandemics (the bubonic plague, influenza) or man-made catastrophes (WWII, nuclear weapons). He addresses social implications, such as our eternal pessimism in consistently interpreting any new astronomical or geological event as a harbinger of doom, and our ongoing eagerness to embrace dire pseudo-science forecasts (remember the supposed 2012 Armageddon, as proposed by the Mayan calendar?). Whether ultimately alarmed or comforted, readers will come away enlightened and entertained. Copyright 2019 Booklist Reviews.





The universe is a weird, warped, violent place. And that's the good news.Life is hard, and it'll be harder still when Andromeda goes sliding into the Milky Way in an inevitable collision of galaxies, even if "colliding galaxies are mostly smoke and mirrors." Fortunately, writes science writer and Astronomy columnist Berman (Zapped: From Infrared to X-rays, the Curious History of Invisible Light, 2017, etc.), this won't happen for "sometime sooner than four billion years from now." From the point of view of Earth, if there is an Earth, it'll just be a sort of weird warping of space and time. Cataclysm is the universe's constant; as the author writes, it's a "a bumper-car ride" out there, but more than that, it's a place where the collision of worlds produces startling effects. One example is our moon, which, by the increasingly regnant theory today, was born when a Mars-size planet with oxygen smacked into Earth, blowing a chunk out to become a satellite of our home. Against t his backdrop, the current wave of mass extinctions of life on Earth has many precedents in our planet's history, which doesn't make it any more palatable. Berman writes with verve and vigor about such things as the Snowball/Slushball catastrophe, the Cambrian explosion, the meteor collision that produced the Chicxulub Crater ("giant tsunamis the height of sixty-story buildings spread across the Caribbean"), novas and supernovas and H-bomb tests, and all manner of suchlike terrors. Sometimes the prose can get cutesy, in the catchy way of pop-magazine writing: "And although the jury may be out on the success of the Big Bang…we members of Homo bewilderus can shrug it all off with a ‘Don't blame me, I wasn't even there' innocence." But mostly, Berman's book is a pleasing excursion into the hows and whys of how the universe—our universe, anyway—took shape and how it works—except when it doesn't. Just the book for a bright teenager interested in astro n omy and geosciences. Copyright Kirkus 2018 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.






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