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Incoming!: or, Why We Should Stop Worrying and Learn to Love the Meteorite [Hardcover]

Ted Nield
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

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Book Description

6 Jan 2011
Astonishing new research suggests that 470 million years ago, a stupendous collision in the Asteroid Belt (whose debris is still falling today) bombarded the Earth with meteorites of all sizes. A revolutionary idea is emerging that the resulting ecological disturbance may have been responsible for the single greatest increase in biological diversity since the origin of complex life - the hitherto unexplained Great Ordovician Biodiversity Event. Introducing these fresh discoveries to a wider public for the first time, Ted Nield challenges the orthodox view that meteorite strikes are always bad news for life on Earth. He argues that one of the most widely known scientific theories - that dinosaurs were wiped out by a strike 65 million years ago - isn't the whole picture, and that the causes of the end-Cretaceous mass extinction (of which the dinosaurs' demise was a part) were much more varied and complex. Meteorites have been the stuff of legend throughout human history, interpreted as omens of doom or objects of power. But only in the 18th century, when the study of falling space debris became a science, were meteorites used to unlock the mysteries of our universe. Incoming! traces the history of meteorites from the first recorded strike to the video recordings made routinely today, showing how our interpretations have varied according to the age in which they fell, and how meteorite impacts were given fresh urgency with the advent of the atom bomb. Introducing a wealth of fascinating characters alongside extraordinary new research, Ted Nield has written the perfect introduction to the science and history of the falling skyA".

Product details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Granta Books; First edition. Hardback. Dust jacket. edition (6 Jan 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847082416
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847082411
  • Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 24.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 560,586 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description


'Opens a window on the night sky and the marvels that streak across it' --Guardian

'It is hard not to be engaged by this richly explored and expertly explained subject' --Financial Times

`Nield is geologist with a sense of history and humour' --The Times

'Nield has a gift for bringing the science alive ... I, for one, am now convinced to love the meteorite!' --BBC Focus

`A detective story told with great wit. Incoming! should make a real impact'
--News of the World

About the Author

Ted Nield holds a doctorate in geology and works for the Geological Society of London as Editor of the monthly magazine Geoscientist. He was Chair of the Association of British Science Writers and is a Goodwill Ambassador for the UN International Year of Planet Earth. He is a Fellow of the Geological Society and a member of the Meteoritical Society. His first book, Supercontinent, was published in 2007. He lives in London.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Learning to love asteroids 11 Feb 2011
Asteroids have had a bad press as dinosaur killers and a threat to life on Earth. Ted Neild, a professional geologist who also has a knack of explaining complicated things in easy to understand language, puts all the scare stories in perspective, explaining how impacts from space played a part in the creation of the Earth, and may have been responsible for the emergence of intelligent life on our planet. The threat is still there, but it is nowhere near as big as the other problems facing humankind.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars "Incoming" 7 Mar 2011
By Bookrat
Hmmm. This sadly did not live up to my expectations - formed from reading a review, and then the first couple of promising chapters. These were largely abouit the history of meteors and how people perceived them. As the book went on, however, it got more and more turgid and I had difficulty finishing it. Somewhere in the middle it seemed to switch to a compendium of famous and not-so-famous living and dead scientists, complete with dates of birth etc - often people in which one could not be expected to have the slightest interest, e.g., lecturers at the author's university. And where was the publisher's editor?? I thought I'ld scream reading the word "savant", used on almost every page. Disappointing.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mixed feelings 7 Jun 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Its a bit of a tough one with this book. I found the book unevenly interesting and of variable quality but in the end quite liked it.

From my point of view, the first half of the book tortuous and boring. I actually nearly gave up. Being an enthusiastic popular science reader, I very rarely abandon a read midway. The first half is packed with anecdotes that are from my opinion pointless and just not focused. The author divert so much that quite often I lost the point. Do we need to know the cost of repair of that car that got damage by a meteorite back in the 1960s? Do we need to know which career the kids of some scientist embraced? Do we need an entire paragraph describing the exact location of the impact of that meteorite that fell in France? Etc.
It seems countless paragraphs are written on things that just not deal with the subject of the book. "I bought the book to read about meteorites" was I thinking after the first half of the book. I was about to give it a miss but decided to hang on a bit more.

And then, finally, the author started to talk about the subject and it was great. Quickly after, I got into the book and could not put it down. Going through the KT killer, the debate between Keller and The Alvarez, etc. it all became very interesting. I particularly liked the description of the debate with Keller. The discovery of countless meteorites in the Ordovician rocks was also very well described, analysed and put into perspective.

One of the final chapter on the explosion of life after the "Ordovician bombardment" is also a good read.

So all in all, I enjoyed the book but after a very frustrating and slow moving first part.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Full of fascinating facts 2 May 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
This is a really interesting book, that explains why the earth needs its regular doses of meteorites. Even if you are already pretty well informed about popular astronomy, you will find lots of intriguing information in this book - it is an easy read and one that you will want to re-read and share.
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