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

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Little, Brown, Feb 19, 2019 - Science - 320 pages
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 percent of the universe's 70 billion trillion suns had non-attention-getting births and are burning through their nuclear fuel in 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 colliding galaxies to solar storms, and gamma ray bursts to space-and-time-warping upheavals, these moments are rare yet powerful, often unseen but consequentially felt.
Likewise, here on Earth, existence as we know it is fragile, always vulnerable to hazards both natural and manufactured. As we've learned from textbooks and witnessed in Hollywood blockbusters, existential threats such as biological disasters, asteroid impacts, and climate upheavals have the all-too-real power to instantaneously transform our routine-centered lives into total chaos, or much worse. While we might be helpless to stop these catastrophes-whether they originate on our own planet or in the farthest reaches of space-the science behind such cataclysmic forces is as fascinating as their results can be devastating.
In Earth-Shattering, astronomy writer Bob Berman guides us through an epic, all-inclusive investigation into these instances of violence both mammoth and microscopic. From the sudden creation of dazzling "new stars" to the furiously explosive birth of our moon, from the uncomfortable truth about ultra-high-energy cosmic rays bombarding us to the incredible ways in which humanity has harnessed cataclysmic energy for its gain, Berman masterfully synthesizes some of our worst fears into an astonishing portrait of the universe that promises to transform the way we look at the world(s) around us.
In the spirit of Neil deGrasse Tyson and Carlo Rovelli, what emerges is a rollicking, profound, and even humbling exploration of all the things that can go bump in the night.
 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - PardaMustang - LibraryThing

Earth-Shattering by Bob Berman is a witty look at the cataclysms of our planet's past and future, many of which were (or are likely to be) seen as the Apocalypse by religious type folks. This book is ... Read full review

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

User Review  - Publishers Weekly

From the Big Bang and colliding galaxies, to Earth-based mass extinctions and nuclear accidents, Astronomy magazine columnist Berman (The Sun’s Heartbeat) takes science buffs on a far-ranging and ... Read full review

Contents

Cover Title Page Copyright Dedication Authors Note
CATACLYSMS IN THE HEAVENS
Cataclysms
It Really Was a Big Bang
The Death of Cousin Theia
Spooky Things That Went Bang
Blame It on the Supernova
Armageddon Monument
The Greatest Mass Extinction
The Dino Saur Show Gets Canceled
Snowball Earth
The Plague
Just the
The Second World
Nuclear Cataclysms
A New State Capital?

Tycho Versus Kepler Dueling Detonations
When Galaxies Collide
Magnetic Violence
The Lethal Antimatter Fountain
Dangerous Bubbles
The Exploding Galaxy Next Door
Waiting for a Carrington Cataclysm
Can We Trust Space Itself?
The Final Supernova
The 2017 Kilonova
CATACLYSMS OF EARTH
The Oxygen Holocaust
Secrets of Chernobyl
The Hybrid Cataclysm
That Thermonuclear Business
Modern Meteors and Flipping Poles
When It Sure Seemed Like the Apocalypse
Invading Our Bodies Today
TOMORROWS CATACLYSMS
Collision with Andromeda
Upcoming Cataclysms
Holocene Extinction
The Sun Has the Last Word

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About the author (2019)

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.

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