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The Life and Death of Planet Earth: How the…

The Life and Death of Planet Earth: How the New Science of Astrobiology…

by Peter D. Ward, Donald Brownlee

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I've been wanting to read this book for years, since I heard the authors on a talk show in 2004! Finally got around to it and kick myself for putting it off for so long. Great book, heavy on scientific theory. I loved it! The authors don't hide the fact that these "predictions" are theories.... Backed up by cold, hard science. I feel enlightened. ( )
  ronnbren | Jul 1, 2013 |
This book had a considerable impact on my comprehension of the universe. By precisely explaining every single fact that made life possible on earth it showed me how much it was pure unbelievable luck, and that intelligent life elsewhere in the universe is, contrary to my former beliefs I am afraid, highly unlikely. ( )
1 vote fgaine | Aug 18, 2009 |
Good book - surprised by number of typos (especially given that the book was written back in 2004) and silly factual errors (water is composed of one atom of hydrogen and two of oxygen? News to me...) - but this was a good, thought-provoking book overall. Authors went a long way to caveat their predictions - this is not hard science, but future-casting - but the thinking and speculation really put our future in context. The inescapable conclusions are that 1) CO2 levels have been dropping for the last 600M years, and will continue to drop like a stone, and 2) our next several series of "climate changes" will be cold ones, before they become really hot ones (driven by the increase in heat output of the sun). This supports my long-held contention that man-made global warming is a fallacy, but unfortunately the authors are too squeamish to draw the obvious conclusion from their own work. Most scientists are unwilling to allow their work (science) to inform their belief system - instead they draw the opposite conclusions in the face of hard facts, to support their political beliefs. That reluctance to follow their own facts is the most disappointing aspect of an otherwise enjoyable, well-constructed book. ( )
  aveeck | Jul 27, 2009 |
Life on Earth has already peaked, and has begun its inexorable process of decay. Our planet will be devoid of all but the simplest organisms in about 500 million years. ( )
  Benthamite | Aug 2, 2008 |
Earth life is past its peak and its midpoint. Despite the current anthropogenic global warming, the next ice age is here by 10^4 years hence. In 10^6 or 10^7 years, all the ice ages are over, and in 3 x 10^8 years all the continents re-converge, possibly causing a mass extinction. In about 7 x 10^8 years, all higher plant species are extinguished by an ever-brightening Sol. Animal life later succumbs to the depleted oxygen and increasing heat, leaving a biosphere of microbes. After 10^9 years hence, the oceans evaporate and are lost to space. Extinction of the last bacteria occurs maybe in 3.5 x 10^9 years. By 7 x 10^9 years, Sol becomes a red giant and begins fusing helium into carbon. When about to enter its final white-dwarf phase, Sol first expands out to about Earth's orbit. Orbital drag causes Luna to crash into Earth, which later either ends up as a ball of slag or is dragged into Sol and vaporized. How do you like *them* apples?
1 vote fpagan | Dec 19, 2006 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Peter D. Wardprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Brownlee, Donaldmain authorall editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0805075127, Paperback)

“They deftly bring together findings from many disparate areas of science in a book that science buffs will find hard to put down.” —Publishers Weekly

Science has worked hard to piece together the story of the evolution of our world up to this point, but only recently have we developed the understanding and the tools to describe the entire life cycle of our planet. Peter D. Ward and Donald Brownlee, a geologist and an astronomer respectively, are in the vanguard of the new field of astrobiology. Combining their knowledge of how the critical sustaining systems of our planet evolve through time with their understanding of how stars and solar systems grow and change throughout their own life cycles, the authors tell the story of the second half of Earth’s life. In this masterful melding of groundbreaking research and captivating, eloquent science writing, Ward and Brownlee provide a comprehensive portrait of Earth’s life cycle that allows us to understand and appreciate how the planet sustains itself today, and offers us a glimpse of our place in the cosmic order.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:13 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

"Two brilliant scientists - Peter D. Ward and Donald Brownlee, a paleontologist and an astronomer respectively - are helping to bring this groundbreaking work to a popular audience. Vanguards of a new field called astrobiology - the science of how planets and organisms live and die - Ward and Brownlee combine the discoveries of astronomers, Earth scientists, and those in other scientific disciplines. Astronomers are well-poised to study the end of our world, since they have studied the ends of other worlds, while paleontologists can tell us about "worlds" that have already ended on our planet, such as the death of dinosaurs and other signposts in the rock and fossil record." "Ward and Brownlee present a comprehensive portrait of Earth's ultimate fate, allowing us to understand and appreciate how our planet sustains itself, and offer a glimpse at our place in the cosmic order. As they depict the process of planetary evolution, they peer deep into the future destiny of Earth, showing us that we are living near or shortly after Earth's biological peak. Eventually, the process of planetary evolution will reverse itself; life as we know it will subside until only the simplest forms remain. In time they, too, will disappear. The oceans will evaporate, the atmosphere will degrade, and as the sun slowly expands, Earth will eventually meet a fiery end."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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