Cosmic Catastrophes

Clark R. Chapman, Author, C. P. Chapman, Editor, D. Morrison, Editor Da Capo Press $22.95 (302p) ISBN 978-0-306-43163-0
In the past 20 years scientists have increasingly entertained the theory that our world and the universe around it have been shaped by rare cataclysmic events. Earlier theories have concentrated on the slow, incremental processes that form continents and guide biological evolution, while explanations relying on catastrophes were the hallmarks of charlatans like Immanuel Velikovsky ( Worlds in Collision ) and proponents of ``creation science.'' In this delightful and accessible book, planetologist Chapman and astronomer Morrison look closely at the evidence of catastrophes and their profound effects on the history of the solar system. They examine the debate over whether a six-mile-wide asteroid hit the Earth 65 million years ago, killing the dinosaurs and drastically changing the course of evolution. Other cataclysms are postulated to explain how the enormous craters on the moon and other planets were created; nuclear winter, the greenhouse effect and the eventual death of the sun are also considered. The authors recommend establishing a program to guard against future asteroid impacts on the Earth. This is popular science writing at its best. Illustrations not seen by PW. (May)
Reviewed on: 04/01/1989
Release date: 04/01/1989
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