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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very important book, 20 Feb 2008
This review is from: The Cosmic Winter (Hardcover)
This is a book written by astrophysicists for laymen. It is important for one reason: it offers compelling evidence that the sky is not harmless as one might think. On the contrary, there are multiple comet swarms, which are huge concentration of comets, wandering in the space. The Earth has had frequent encounters with them in the past and another is probably due in the near future.

The book starts with a graphic description of a fictional encounter between the Earth and a comet swarm. A 20 megaton comet impacts Nevada. Mistaking it with a nuclear strike from the Soviet Union, the US launches multiple nuclear missiles in retaliation. In the mean time, another hundred-megaton impact hits Belgium, wiping out the country and devastating much of Europe. A shower of smaller comet debris also peppers much of the Earth. When the Earth finally emerges from the swarm, much of its surface is in ruin.

After ensuring that your attention is sufficiently captured by this story, the authors go about presenting the evidence for their case. In part I, they gather various clues from myths and legends around the world that point to catasphophes in the past. What is interesting here is that they show that the Gods from the myths were probably not products of fiction but comets during a very active periods. They did move around in the sky and interfere in worldly affairs through their deadly bombardments.

Part II is where the meat of the book is. Here, the authors summarize the current scientific knowledge about comets and present it in a very accessible way. Of particular significance is information about the Taurid meteor stream, whose path the Earth crosses at the end of June and early November each year. This meteor stream is responsible for the Tunguska impact at the beginning of the last century, the Bruno crater on the moon (whose impact energy is on the order of 100,000 megatons) and numerous other impacts in the past.

Finally, a risk assessment wraps up the book. For from being negligible, it is calculated that the probability of an impact in as short a period as a human lifetime is at a few percent. What's worse, they tend to be concentrated into brief periods with multiple impacts, whose result is likely to be another Dark Age.

After reading this book, one cannot help but wonder why such information is not more widely known, and what effect public awareness of this might have on the current status quo. Wouldn't it stop the bogus "war on terror"? Wouldn't it make people immediately demand something be done to mitigate the threat? Such contemplations, with all their implications, make it all the more important that this book be read by as many people as possible.
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