cover image Cosmic Connection: How Astronomical Events Impact Life on Earth

Cosmic Connection: How Astronomical Events Impact Life on Earth

Jeff Kanipe. Prometheus Books, $27.98 (0pp) ISBN 978-1-59102-667-9

""Look anywhere beyond our little nook of the Galaxy and you will see a universe that is not only dispassionate, but dangerous and random""; escaping that nook, author and science writer Kanipe (Chasing Hubble's Shadows) examines in fascinating detail the countless astronomical events that, from remote distances and times, have steered the evolution of life on Earth. Kanipe explains how a serendipitous axis played a central role in shaping the planet's climate; meteor and comet strikes (as recently as 1908) have caused significant damage but not global catastrophe; and the explosion of ancient stars carved out the ""Local Bubble"" in which Solar System resides: ""as if the region has been sterilized of potentially lethal galactic hazards."" There's no guarantee those factors won't turn against us-a wayward neutron star could swing by and ""scramble the atomic and molecular structure of the solar system""-but Kanipe is an infectious optimist who doesn't let these long-shot dangers curb his curiosity or enthusiasm. Exploring also the possibility of interstellar civilizations, the end of the universe and other topics, this detailed, broad-ranging astronomical meditation leave science buffs wondering at our good fortune.