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Megacatastrophes!: Nine Strange Ways The World Could End [Kindle Edition]

David Darling , Dirk Schulze-Makuch
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £7.99
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Book Description

Celebrate the year of the Mayan Apocalypse in style with Megacatastrophes!, as Dr. David Darling and Dr. Dirk Schulze-Makuch delve into the amazing science of the end of the world.

Could it be the asteroid hurtling towards us from outer space, or a super-volcano covering the Earth under a cloud of ash; black holes gobbling up the solar system, or a tiny army of nanobots in a deranged feeding frenzy? Oh, and don’t forget — there’s always the risk of alien invasion. Rating the likelihood of each potential disaster, David and Dirk provide the best guide to the worst that could happen, and explore what we could do to save our souls. So sit down, face the inevitable, and prepare to discover the nine weirdest ways we could all go to meet our maker.

Product Description


 ‘entertaining’Astrobiology Society

'Splendid! Stimulating, entertaining, and scientifically plausible.' --Adam Hart-Davis

“A mix of good old-fashioned silliness and some fine science writing. Next time someone tells you, "Cheer up, it might never happen," throw this book at them.”

BBC Focus

“A curiously pleasurable trawl through horrible catastrophes.”


“Accessible and entertaining... Brings often complex and abstract threats frighteningly to life.”

Financial Times

“Surprisingly good fun.”

The Bookseller – Editor’s Pick

“Who needs vampires and zombies for excitement? Delightful... an authoritative but good-humored look at an array of natural and technological disasters.”

Albert A. Harrison – Professor Emeritus Psychology, University of California, Davis, and author of Starstruck: Cosmic Visions in Science, Religion and Folklore

“Fascinating, if sometimes macabre...  A fabulous book that got better with every page - I couldn't put it down!”

Debra Fischer – Professor of Astronomy at Yale University

“Nicely written, thoroughly researched, highly recommended. Doomsday is already marked in the calendar.”

Alberto Fairen – Research Scientist at the SETI Institute

“The entertaining selection of end-of-the world scenarios is the perfect excuse to learn about science, from the atomic to the galactic and from the terrestrial to the extra-terrestrial. Specially recommended for those who think that the end of humankind cannot cheer you up.”

Alfonso Davila – Senior Scientist at the SETI Institute and Principal Investigator at the Carl Sagan Institute

"A surprisingly cheerful look at the science of how humanity might meet a messy end, from incurable diseases to exploding stars. Who says reading about the end of the world needs to be grim?"

Chad Orzel – author of How to Teach Quantum Physics to Your Dog



"Impressive… Reminds us that the air of reassuring omnipotence that our leaders like to project is mere illusion." Wall Street Journal "A hearty dose of knowledge seasoned with humor… Clear and informative, this book is recommended for all readers of popular science." Library Journal


"Splendid! Stimulating, entertaining, and scientifically plausible."

(Adam Hart-Davis)

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1489 KB
  • Print Length: 222 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1851689052
  • Publisher: Oneworld Publications (1 April 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007MAJG0G
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #212,970 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

I've been a science writer for the past 30 years and I'm also a singer/songwriter. After finishing my PhD in astronomy at the University of Manchester, England, in 1974 I met my future wife and moved to her home town of Minneapolis where I found a job with the supercomputer maker Cray Research. In my spare time I started writing astronomy articles for magazines and soon found I enjoyed this more than my day job. In 1981 we moved back to the UK and I became a full-time freelance writer, first doing children's science books and then moving on to adult popular science with Deep Time (1989) and Equations of Eternity (1993). Since then I've written more than a dozen books on everything from life in space to how the world might end (Megacatastrophes!) and my latest, The Rocket Man, about dare-devil pioneering aviators. Also, recently I've taken up songwriting and released my first album, Songs of the Cosmos, in 2014, which, as the name suggests, carries my interests in the scientific cosmos over into music. Almost all my books and music are still available on Amazon, on one form or another. I presently live in Dundee, Scotland, and have two wonderful grown-up children and three grandkids. At the moment, I'm working on a new edition of my Extraterrestrial Encyclopedia and a second album.

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read 2 April 2013
This is a very entertaining read, which will leave you thinking seriously about the future. Each of the nine ways is given a probabilty: zero, low, moderate, high or certain. It is also given a death rate of either 0, 10 million+ 1 Billon+ or extinction.

Like me you may not always agree with the conclusions, but none of these 'events' are completely outlandish so it'll be the Catastrophometer rating that could easily end up being the basis of a very strange pub discussion... The writing style is straightforward, and mainly avoids complex maths or physics, although I found some parts relating to the LHC (large hadron collider) section quite hard to follow, so I think it would be fair to say that large parts of the book are accessible to most people.

Its certainly the best book I've read on the likely causes of the end of the world, and grey goo (read to find out) is now etched in my consciousness!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Existential Threats 25 Dec. 2012
The Mayans (allegedly) warned us that the world is going to end this month; it didn't, but in Megacatastrophes, David Darling and Dirk Schulze-Makuch described nine different existential threats from nature. The potential extinction-level events are wide ranging, from solar activity and black holes to alien invasion and the rise of technology. The authors sound most confident talking about cosmic events, and there are a couple of dubious assertions about plagues, but generally the book manages to engage without dumbing down. The potential catastrophes are rated from 1 (unlikely to happen; unlikely to cause total extinction) to 10 (certain to occur, and certain to wipe out life on Earth); it may not comfort you to know that there's very little we can do about any of them.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An entertaining guide to Doomsday! 5 Jun. 2014
By Jazzrook TOP 500 REVIEWER
This is a fascinating, well-researched and scientifically credible book on the various ways the world could end.
After an illuminating introduction there are nine chapters on possible causes of Doomsday events including nano technology, supervolcanoes, asteroids, incurable diseases, gamma-ray bursts & alien invasion.
'Megacatastrophes!' is a well-written and accessible book which covers a wide-range of scientific ideas and manages to be entertaining despite the apocalyptic subject matter.
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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Read 24 May 2012
By Peter
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Very interesting read... 5 star rating in BBC Focus magazine. Don't take too much notice of the cover, book is not sensationalised but is written in a thought provoking way.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Thought it would be good 13 May 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
But as a scientst - I found it lacking. A non-scientist would probably be happy with it, but I found it never quite delivered and the silly drawings with the "number" for the risk just annoyed me. Pity - a missed opportunity.
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5.0 out of 5 stars good 10 Dec. 2012
By G. poa
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
very good pleased ( i will not write words that I do not want to write even to make it 17 words)
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