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Plait, an astronomer and author of the popular Web site badastronomy.com, presents "in loving detail" the many, many ways the human race could die, from temperature extremes and poisonous atmosphere to asteroid impacts and supernovae explosions. Such a state of destruction existed some 65 million years ago, when a giant meteoroid struck Earth, sending up so much flaming debris that "the whole planet caught fire" and the dinosaurs were wiped out. Solar flare activity could bring on another Ice Age. Worse yet would be a gamma ray burster, a collapsed star whose radiation would be comparable to detonating "a one-megaton nuclear bomb over every square mile of the planet." Plait discusses insatiable black holes, the death of the Sun and cannibal galaxies-including our own. Balancing his doomsday scenarios with enthusiastic and clear explanations of the science behind each, Plait offers a surprisingly educational and enjoyable astronomical horror show, including a table listing the extremely low odds of each event occurring. He gives readers a good scare, and then puts it in context. Illus. (Oct. 20)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.