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Death from the Skies!: The Science Behind the End of the World Paperback – 28 Sep 2009


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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: The Penguin Press; Reprint edition (28 Sep 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143116045
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143116042
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 1.9 x 20.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 59,862 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A. Drakou on 27 April 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am not sure how many of you know (not personally) Philip Plait. Philip is an astronomer, more specific he is the Bad Astronomer. He is one of my favourite bloggers. I even follow his tweets. He knows a lot about astronomy; his website is a vast source of information, written in a plain, high intellectually and funny way. Seriously, even if you and astronomy don't get along very well, Phil can make you love it.

That's exactly he is doing with his new book "Death From the Skies: These Are the Ways the World Will End". You maybe think that the title is intriguing. It is, but the book is much more intriguing, full of strange astronomical things and events that will spell the doom of Earth.

Asteroids, black holes, solar activity, the Sun becoming a red giant, supernovae and gamma-ray bursts, Alien Attack, Galactic collisions. Well that's it.... the end of world.

There is a huge amount of science in this book. Everything you need to know, to be prepared for the end of the planet and probably the end of cosmos. Which, by the way, is not going to affect you, unless you are planning to be around the next .....1000000 years. Then, you may discover how the dinosaurs felt when the asteroid hit the Earth.

Did I say that the book is also funny? Well, it is. It is a great joy to read. Every chapter stars with a small story. Some of them are excellent science fiction stories of their own. I really loved the Attack of the Aliens; I think it could make a fantastic disaster movie.

Even if you know nothing about astronomy, you will find this book very readable and interesting. Phil, explains everything very well and clearly, and he uses the correct analogies to describe scientific concepts that some may find difficult to understand.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Mr. M. Hadlow on 28 Sep 2009
Format: Paperback
OK, I admit it, I'm a real sucker for Philip Plait's gee-wizz writing style. He has a winning way of combining beautifully clear explanations of complex cosmology with a blogger's immediacy and wit. Some of the one-liners made me giggle: "65 million years ago, the Dinosaurs had a really bad day." But you learn so much cool stuff about the universe at the same time. I didn't know that our Sun is in fact far from average, it's rather on the large size apparently, and I found the explanation of the way huge, pre-supernova, stars build a layer cake of elements fascinating. And of course it's all to explain the many ways the universe can kill you; spagettification by black hole anyone?
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By N. Barron on 28 Oct 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Phil Plait once again manages to convey a hefty dose of solid scientific knowledge in an entertaining and real page-turner fashion. Covering pretty much every sci-fi end-of-the-world threat from outer space he educates and entertains with stories of supernovae, black holes, gamma bursts and the like.

Along with the scientific explanations there is a common thread of pragmatic risk appraisal without the usual sensationalism. Even the benefits of many of the risks are discussed, such as the generation of heavier elements by supernovae.

Death from the Skies is both enjoyable and educational, and you are unlikely to be disappointed.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By T. Walker VINE VOICE on 18 April 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Phil Plait is the "Bad Astronomer" who runs the internet site of that name. A skeptic by nature, his first book, called unsurprisingly, "Bad Astronomy" attacks all those myths about the subject and thoroughly debunks them.
This book describes all the ways the earth could be destroyed, by the sun, by asteroids and so on. Probably best not to read it if you are of a nervous disposition!Bad Astronomy: Misconceptions and Misuses Revealed, from Astrology to the Moon Landing Hoax (Bad Science)
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Scollen Michael on 16 May 2009
Format: Hardcover
A startling and brilliant book-showing the real weight of "what-ifs" against the science. He writes about the most complex matters without patronising the reader and with a Huxley like clarity.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By M. Bunyan on 28 May 2010
Format: Paperback
If you buy this book expecting a fun read and to learn a little about the science, you'll get precisely that; only with a little more learning thrown in. The author has an ability to explain complex ideas with unmatched clarity, providing plenty of education along with the fun.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mr. R. Blackett on 8 Oct 2010
Format: Paperback
This is an outstanding book which is rather let down by its exclamatory title and its cover, both of which I suspect have caused a lot of people to assume that it is some kind of self-published scare mongering or a graphic novel. In fact this is a very well written popular science book which probably taught me more about astronomy, astrophysics and cosmology than any other single book I've read, written in a way which is entertaining, accesible and comprehensible without oversimplifying or coming across as patronising. Plait's own interest in and passion for the subject is evident in every word and I found my own interest similarly piqued. Although the subject matter is very different, Plait's style is reminiscent of Ben Goldacre's writing in Bad Science (which I also rate very highly). Both manage to convey a breathless enthusiasm for their work, and an eagerness to share it with a wider audience.

Each chapter in Death from the Skies! considers a particular astronomical event. There is a chapter devoted to solar flares and sunspots, another to comet and meteorite impacts but also black holes, gamma ray bursts and, ultimately, the end of the universe itself. What makes the book stand out is that each event is not described in the abstract, but by considering what - in theory - would be the effect of such an event on the earth. The mechanism or cause of each event is explained, along with whether it could be prevented or mitigated and how likely it is. For many of these events, of course, the author makes entirely clear that there is no immediate threat to humankind.
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