Rain of Iron and Ice shows us the unmistakable evidence--from spaceprobe flybys of the planets to the scars on our own Earth--of cataclysmic comet and asteroid impacts. By comparing what we know about the earth's geology and paleontology with the ages of the other planets and moons in our solar system, Lewis makes the strongest case yet for sudden, dramatic extinctions and assesses the risks to planet Earth.
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(229mm x 152mm x 18mm)
Publisher: The Perseus Books Group
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US Kirkus Review »
There was a time when science refused to believe that meteors actually fell from the sky; now, scientists soberly calculate the possibility that one of those falls could destroy a city - or the entire human race. Lewis (codirector for science of the NASA/Univ. of Arizona Space Engineering Research Center) attempts to place the threat of cosmic bombardment in down-to-earth perspective by systematically building up evidence. Most early accounts of meteorite falls were ignored by later scientists; even Meteor Crater in Arizona was long considered a volcanic cone, despite the absence of volcanic rock in the area. The Tunguska event - a meteor explosion over Siberia in 1908 - was not properly investigated for nearly 20 years. Only with the exploration of space did the full truth become evident: Every planetary surface we have examined shows proof of massive bombardment from space, although erosion has obliterated many of the traces on Earth's surface. Not all traces, however - numerous craterlike features show the geological stigmata of high impacts, such as shocked quartz crystals and the tiny glass beads known as microtektites. A crater near Yucatan is now believed to be the remnant of the impact that destroyed the dinosaurs. The dramatic impact of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 on Jupiter converted most of the remaining skeptics. Lewis draws parallels with nuclear explosions to explain the possible effect of large impacts on human populations; at the same time, he points out that even the largest nuclear device ever exploded (60 megatons) was far less damaging than what we might expect from the impact of a million-ton asteroid, of which there are tens of thousands in orbits that threaten Earth. In his final chapter, Lewis proposes a space-going capability to divert the most threatening asteroids and to exploit the mineral resources of the richest. An apocalyptic vision that should be taken with the utmost seriousness by anyone concerned with the long-range fate of the human race. (Kirkus Reviews)
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Author Biography - John S. Lewis
John S. Lewis, author of Rain of Iron and Ice, is professor of planetary sciences and codirector of the Space Engineering Research Center at the University of Arizona-Tucson. He has chaired international conferences on space resources and is a globally recognized expert on the subject.