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The Cosmic Connection: How Astronomical Events Impact Life on Earth

By: Jeff Kanipe

296 pages, Col & b/w illus

Prometheus Books

Hardback | Mar 2010 | #178079 | ISBN-13: 9781591026679
Availability: Usually dispatched within 5 days Details
NHBS Price: £22.95 $29/€27 approx

About this book

In this sweeping tour of the cosmos and our place within it, acclaimed science writer Jeff Kanipe shows the many ways we are connected to the vast universe we inhabit. Long before our ape-like ancestors dropped from the trees and began playing with fire, even before the Sun emerged from its chrysalis of dust and irradiated its brood of planets, numberless and nameless astronomical events affected Earth and its emerging life-forms. Our chemical make-up - from the iron in our blood to the calcium in our bones - derives from stars that lived and died hundreds of millions of years ago. Comets have showered organic molecules into our oceans, and asteroid impacts have wiped out predominant species that lived before.

Tracing the whole natural history of how events in the near and far universe have influenced life on Earth today, and how they might influence life in the future, Kanipe, with unparalleled eloquence, explores a host of such intriguing questions as: how the Earth's orbit and inclination have triggered past ice ages; the role ancient supernovae may have played in mass extinctions and genetic changes; how a slight but persistent dip in solar output contributed to a multi-century cooling event called the 'Little Ice Age'; the dangers posed by intense geomagnetic storms; how ancient asteroid impacts pressed Earth's evolutionary reset button and how astronomers are striving to make sure that it won't happen again; and, the widespread effects that our Sun's changing galactic environment has on life and climate.

Kanipe also reflects upon the possible societal effects of alien contact, a type of cosmic intervention that some astronomers believe could happen within the next few decades. His elegant, jargon-free descriptions of the truly 'big-picture view' of life on Earth will fascinate and inform everyone who has an interest in astronomy, the evolution of our planet, and the future of humankind.

[This] fascinating book provides a timely reminder that while we go about our daily affairs worrying about things like what's happening at work or the price of fuel, we are forever at the mercy of a capricious universe that may have something far worse in store for us. --New Scientist December 6, 2008 issue "The Cosmic Connection is a fascinating and approachable look at our cosmos, taking readers on a wide-ranging journey and showing how we are intimately linked to the rest of the universe. Kanipe raises intriguing questions, and describes in jargon-free prose the truly 'big-picture view' of how life on Earth and perhaps life on other worlds, relates to the stars. The narrative style is eloquent and at times droll, but always well paced and fact filled. The book will fascinate and inform everyone who has an interest in astronomy, the evolution of our planet, and the future of humankind." -- SirReadaLot.org, February 2009 "If you acquire his book, and I urge you to do so, you will find more information on the theme. Trust Mr. Kanipe, he knows what he is doing." -- The Space Guy, Astronomy Briefly, February 2009 "In clear, concise language, Kanipe shows how life on our little planet owes an enormous debt of gratitude to a host of small but critical cosmic events that determined the entire course of evolution. This kind of interconnectedness makes for fascinating reading and a renewed appreciation for our moon, earth's axis and the role comets and asteroids played in hitting the reset button." -- Monsters and Critics.com, February 20, 2009 "Kanipe, a noted science writer, uses clear and simple terminology to explain how the axis of the Earth affects our climate, how supernovas may have caused mass extinctions of species and fomented genetic mutations and how inconsistencies in solar activity impact our daily lives." -- SciTech Book News, March 2009 "[It] provides a powerful survey of the cosmos, offering connections between events affecting the universe and those affecting mankind. It's intended for the general reader so general-interest libraries will find it provocative, exploring different astronomical events and how they have affected life on Earth." -- California Bookwatch, The Midwest Book Review, March 2009 "Kanipe has written a thoughtful and interesting volume. The writing style is engaging and keeps the reader's interest without having to resort to a sensationalist approach. In all cases, the quality of the science is excellent and the result is a definitive examination of the impact of the cosmos on us that is easily accessible to the non-expert. It also holds much of interest to those of us who like to think we know something about the subject. I found this book a thoroughly enjoyable read. It should be required reading for all prospective science-documentary producers - but then maybe their programs would not make it onto our screens." -- The Observatory, Vol. 129, No. 1209, April 2009 "With a combination of large print, readable style, and a relatively unique content, The Cosmic Connection will make a quick and entertaining read for general readers. Highly recommended. All audiences." -- Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, July 2009 "Split into chapters that focus on volcanic and seismic activity on the planet, the sun, and what space is throwing at us, Kanipe provides plenty of details and diagrams. The Cosmic Connection is nevertheless an interesting history lesson on what catastrophic events that would've wiped out our species in a second have taken place in our past." -- The Sacramento Book Review, April 26, 2009


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