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Perils of a Restless Planet: Scientific Perspectives on Natural Disasters

By: Ernest Zebrowski

320 pages, 23 b/w photos, 44 figs, tabs

Cambridge University Press

Paperback | Jul 1999 | #85908 | ISBN: 0521654882
Availability: Usually dispatched within 1-2 weeks Details
NHBS Price: £30.99 $39/€37 approx
Hardback | Sep 1997 | #71214 | ISBN: 0521573742
Out of Print Details

About this book

Throughout history, humans have sought to make sense of seemingly random and frequently deadly natural disasters. This book examines our attempts to understand and anticipate these devastating natural phenomena, focusing on the interactions among basic scientific inquiry, technological innovation, and ultimately public policy.

'... [a] perceptive and readable book ... [the author] has achieved a seamless combination of useful and unusual examples, placed in a scientific framework that makes sense of the apparent chaos ... in Perils of a Restless Planet he presents a polished summary of the basic science necessary to understand the Earth's catastrophic upheavals ... this book would be a valuable teaching aid, both for potential scientists and those who need to know about science from another perspective ... overall, this book is such a good read ... Snippets of information and awesome facts and figures thread through this book ... a valuable source for those who want to catch the imagination of children ... For the rest of us, this is a readable way to ponder how increasing numbers of us can continue to live on such a restless planet.' Sue Bowler, New Scientist ' ... a fascinating trawl through history's natural mishaps ... both entertaining and informative, full of little-known and very amusing facts.' Paul Brown, The Guardian 'In these days when the television and movie screens are dominated by disaster movies, teachers and students alike will want to turn to Perils of a Restless Planet to read documented accounts of natural disasters as well as scientific explanations of origins and mechanisms of the disasters.' Albert A. Bartlett 'Perils is a fascinating read about the science of natural disasters that strike randomly and often with grotesque human toll.' Jearl Walker, Cleveland State University 'A wide-ranging, gratifyingly lively investigation into the more violent ravings of Mother Nature ... it is nature's fury that makes this book vibrate.' Kirkus Reviews 'This is a very readable and enjoyable book. Written by a Pennsylvanian physics professor, it outlines the 'awesome' power of Earth's natural phenomena, particularly those which affect human existence. ... What distinguishes this book from many another in the 'disaster and hazards' genre is that it integrates, quite seamlessly, discussions about the philosophy and methodology of scientific enquiry with concise explanations of the key scientific ideas (e.g. forces, naturual selection, waves theory) needed to underpin proper attempts to answer the how?, why?, what effect?, what can we do?, can we predict?, will we ever know? questions. This book will give many readers fresh insights into science and, furthermore, will indicate how the results of experiments taught in the school/college lab can be translated with real meaning to take on some of the challenges of the natural environment. Thoroughly recommended to all.' Duncan Hawley, School Science Review ' ... Zebrowski brings a physical science perspective to bear on the problem of natural disasters, and the result is a provocative, energetic and readable account of the 'perils' of a restless planet ... as a stimuylating and intelligent ... discussion of the scientific basis of natural disasters there is much in here to be recommended.' David Pyle, Geology Magazine 'On All Saints' Day in 1775, most residents of Lisbon, Portugal, were in church; little did they know they were being read their last rites. The first of three tsunamis hit at 9:40 a.m. Fire then engulfed the city, sparing survivors the pestilence sure to accompany the resulting 40,000 or so dead bodies. Zebrowski revisits some of the greatest horrors engendered by Mother Nature over the last thousand years and explains how they can be predicted and how they work.' Science News '... makes for not only the gripping reading experience of a first-class mystery novel, but also provides a compelling account of the status of the species Homo Sapiens on the threshold of a new and very uncertain millennium'. Choice ' ... an extremely lucid description and thoughtful analysis of what we face living on a restless planet'. Endeavour 'Perils of a Restless Planet is exciting reading. It would be superb for a lower-division course emphasizing the methodologies of science and engineering the importance of humility in the face of natural powers and the value of good design.' Physics Today 'It is an unexpected pleasure to get more than you pay for. Ernest Zebrowski, Jr's splendid book Perils of a Restless Planet provides just such a rare delight. The volume includes volcanoes, plagues, earthquakes, asteroids, tsunamis, tornadoes, and more...He seems to be that rarity, a careful and precise scientist who can tell a good story.' Science Books and Films 'This is a very readable and enjoyable book. Written by a Pennsylvanian physics professor, it outlines the 'awesome' power of Earth's natural phenomena, particularly those which affect human existence ... What distinguishes this book from many another in the 'disaster and hazards' genre is that it integrates, quite seamlessly, discussions about the philosophy and methodology of scientific enquiry with concise explanations of the key scientific ideas (e.g. forces, natural selection, waves theory) needed to underpin proper attempts to answer the how?, why?, what effect?, what can we do?, can we predict?, will we ever know? questions. This book will give many readers fresh insights into science and, furthermore, will indicate how the results of experiments taught in the school/college lab can be translated with real meaning to take on some of the challenges of the natural environment. Thoroughly recommended to all.' Duncan Hawley, School Science Review '... written in an easy yet informative style ... [this book] provides an original insight into natural disasters and their causes. It will be a refreshing read for hazard scientists and students, as well as the world at large.' Bill McGuire, Nature 'This is a very well-written, well-illustrated and fascinating book.' Ignaz Vergeiner, Meteorology and Atmospheric Physics 'On All Saints' Day in 1775, most residents of Lisbon, Portugal, were in church; little did they know they were being read their last rites. The first of three tsunamis hit at 9:40 am. Fire then engulfed the city, sparing survivors the pestilence sure to accompany the resulting 40,000 or so dead bodies. Zebrowski revisits some of the greatest horrors engendered by Mother Nature over the last thousand years and explains how they can be predicted and how they work.' Science News '... makes for not only the gripping reading experience of a first-class mystery novel, but also provides a compelling account of the status of the species Homo Sapiens on the threshold of a new and very uncertain millennium.' Choice '... an extremely lucid description and thoughtful analysis of what we face living on a restless planet.' Endeavour ' ... a book well worth reading'. Nigel Spencer, OUGS Journal 'Perils of a Restless Planet is exciting reading. It would be superb for a lower-division course emphasizing the methodologies of science and engineering, the importance of humility in the face of natural powers and the value of good design.' Physics Today 'It is an unexpected pleasure to get more than you pay for. Ernest Zebrowski, Jr's splendid book Perils of a Restless Planet provides just such a rare delight. The volume includes volcanoes, plagues, earthquakes, asteroids, tsunamis, tornadoes, and more ... He seems to be that rarity, a careful and precise scientist who can tell a good story.' Science Books and Films 'This is a very well-written, well-illustrated and fascinating book.' Ignaz Vergeiner, Meteorology and Atmospheric Physics '... written in an easy yet informative style ... [this book] provides an original insight into natural disasters and their causes. It will be a refreshing read for hazard scientists and students, as well as the world at large.' Bill McGuire, Nature 'This book will give many readers fresh insights into science and furthermore will indicate how the results of experiments taught in the school/college lab. can be translated with real meaning to take on some of the challenges of the natural environment. Thoroughly recommended to all.' Teaching Earth Sciences


Contents

Preface; 1. Life on the Earth's crust; 2. The evolution of science; 3. Hazards of shelter; 4. Death and life; 5. Restless seas; 6. Earth in upheaval; 7. Volcanoes and asteroid impacts; 8. Deadly winds; 9. Science and irreproducible phenomena; Appendices; Index.

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