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Cosmic Connection: How Astronomical Events Impact Life on Earth [Hardcover]

Jeff Kanipe

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Book Description

1 Nov 2008
In this sweeping tour of the cosmos and our place within it, acclaimed science writer Jeff Kanipe shows the many ways we are connected to the vast universe we inhabit. Long before our apelike ancestors dropped from the trees and began playing with fire, even before the Sun emerged from its chrysalis of dust and irradiated its brood of planets, numberless and nameless astronomical events affected Earth and its emerging life-forms. Our chemical makeup—from the iron in our blood to the calcium in our bones—derives from stars that lived and died hundreds of millions of years ago. Comets have showered organic molecules into our oceans, and asteroid impacts have wiped out predominant species that lived before.
Tracing the whole natural history of how events in the near and far universe have influenced life on Earth today, and how they might influence life in the future, Kanipe, with unparalleled eloquence, explores a host of intriguing questions:

• How the Earth’s orbit and inclination have triggered past ice ages
• The role ancient supernovae may have played in mass extinctions and genetic changes
• How a slight but persistent dip in solar output contributed to a multicentury cooling event called the "Little Ice Age"
• How ancient asteroid impacts pressed Earth’s evolutionary reset button and how astronomers are striving to make sure that it won’t happen again
• The widespread effects that our Sun’s changing galactic environment has on life and climate

Kanipe also reflects upon the possible societal effects of alien contact, a type of cosmic intervention that some astronomers believe could happen within the next few decades. His elegant, jargon-free descriptions of the truly "big-picture view" of life on Earth will fascinate and inform everyone who has an interest in astronomy, the evolution of our planet, and the future of humankind.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 296 pages
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books; First Edition edition (1 Nov 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591026679
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591026679
  • Product Dimensions: 2.1 x 15.9 x 23 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,553,550 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.7 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nothing on earth makes sense except in the light of the Cosmic Connection 7 Dec 2009
By Matt Funk - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
As Dobzhansky wisely noted, "One can argue that all environments are hostile, and that death and extinction are probable events, while survival is improbable. Just how life has managed to overcome this improbability is a problem which many biologists find challenging and fascinating. In my opinion, this problem may well be used as the framework on which to build the teaching of biology." Furthermore, however, as Jeff Kanipe has beautifully illustrated, this problem may well be used as the framework on which to build the teaching of life-on-earth-as-we-know-it. Or, to put this another way, Dobzhansky also famously remarked, "Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution." But as Kanipe demonstrates, nothing on earth makes sense except in the light of planetary, stellar, and galactic evolution. If you only buy three books this year, consider three copies of the Cosmic Connection for you and your two closest friends - I've bought four and I'm about to buy six more! And if you'd like to know why I'm filling up Santa's sleigh with this important book, see: "On the Origin of Mass Extinctions: Darwin's Nontrivial Error ([...]).
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Kanipe Keeper 4 Feb 2009
By Amazon Customer - Published on
I do like this book. The author states he has no truck with "astronomy-speak" and he wishes to avoid the textbook approach or the "star-stuff" lyricism. Instead, Mr. Kanipe delivers some haymakers at our self-assurances that life in this planetary abode is a humdrum conceit of impeccable safety.

His book is partly about what too many of us no longer can or care to notice - the stars, the Milky Way, the Moon, and even the Sun. His book is also partly about what we can't readily see - dark energy, magnetars, tiny black holes, false and true vacuums, hypernovas, asteroids, interstellar clouds, and aliens.

What do all these astronomical entities have in common per this book? As the author states - "A civilization that lives long enough won't have to go to the stars, the stars will come to it." Mr. Kanipe treats this approach to us as what could happen now, tomorrow, and in millions of years. There is no time span in which one can get away from it all. Though the author writes that we are not more than a chalk jot on the blackboard of the universe, could we, thus, get overlooked. Does a banker refuse an exorbitant bonus?

How many ways can you spell "hell" here on Earth? Let's see -

"Simply put, a coronal mass ejection is a piece of the Sun ejected into space." We can be in the line of fire.

Other solar activity could render us "deaf,dumb, and blind to anyone not in our immediate vicinity." O woe to you, techies.

"Scientists repeatedly warn that a collision with an asteroid is inevitable." So we've got a recession or a depression. Cheer up.

That's asteroids, how about comets? They give us no slack, we couldn't duck "a multiple Tunguska-like strafing run."

How about "a single thermonuclear whoosh" coming our way?

Or a magnetar that "could very well scramble the atomic and molecular structure of the solar system."

Enough hellish prospects, the aliens are coming, the aliens are coming. They can save us? After what the author relates about the Martian canal "kerfuffle" maybe they will keep their distance. They certainly have, so far.

Mr. Kanipe tells us again and again that, in so many words, we are an extremely fortunate bunch. Where we are in relation to nearby astronomical objects and faraway ones has made us what we are today.

Mr. Kanipe takes you far and near for mostly dispassionate scenarios that will not perplex you for long. It's us vs. all of them. I haven't mentioned very many of them. The author has the rest of them well in hand. Read and don't weep, there may still be time enough to read the author's masterful account.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exploring different astronomical events and how they have affected life on Earth 15 Mar 2009
By Midwest Book Review - Published on
THE COSMIC CONNECTION: HOW ASTRONOMICAL EVENTS IMPACT LIFE ON EARTH provides a powerful survey of the cosmos, offering connections between events affecting the universe and those affecting mankind. It's intended for the general reader so general-interest libraries will find it provocative, exploring different astronomical events and how they have affected life on Earth.
5.0 out of 5 stars good book about space weather 2 Jan 2013
By Toby - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
would recommand it to anyone who is interested in everything about space. I always been into space weather for long time now and glad I pick this book
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It is just a fortuitus event 19 Feb 2009
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Why we are here ??? It is not just because of our technology and evolution.
Amazing journey through the bad news understanding the good news that permitted the life on the Earth.
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