"T. rex" and the Crater of Doomby Walter Alvarez
Pub. Date: 07/01/2008
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Sixty-five million years ago, a comet or asteroid larger than Mt. Everest slammed into the Earth, causing an explosion equivalent to the detonation of a hundred million hydrogen bombs. Vaporized impactor and debris from the impact site were blasted out through the atmosphere, falling back to Earth all around the globe. Terrible environmental disasters ensued,… See more details below
Sixty-five million years ago, a comet or asteroid larger than Mt. Everest slammed into the Earth, causing an explosion equivalent to the detonation of a hundred million hydrogen bombs. Vaporized impactor and debris from the impact site were blasted out through the atmosphere, falling back to Earth all around the globe. Terrible environmental disasters ensued, including a giant tsunami, continent-scale wildfires, darkness, and cold, followed by sweltering greenhouse heat. When conditions returned to normal, half the genera of plants and animals on Earth had perished.
This horrific story is now widely accepted as the solution to a great scientific murder mystery what caused the extinction of the dinosaurs? In T. rex and the Crater of Doom, the story of the scientific detective work that went into solving the mystery is told by geologist Walter Alvarez, one of the four Berkeley scientists who discovered the first evidence for the giant impact. It is a saga of high adventure in remote parts of the world, of patient data collection, of lonely intellectual struggle, of long periods of frustration ended by sudden breakthroughs, of intense public debate, of friendships made or lost, of the exhilaration of discovery, and of delight as a fascinating story unfolded.
Controversial and widely attacked during the 1980s, the impact theory received confirmation from the discovery of the giant impact crater it predicted, buried deep beneath younger strata at the north coast of the Yucatán Peninsula. The Chicxulub Crater was found by Mexican geologists in 1950 but remained almost unknown to scientists elsewhere until 1991, when it was recognized as the largest impact crater on this planet, dating precisely from the time of the great extinction sixty-five million years ago. Geology and paleontology, sciences that long held that all changes in Earth history have been calm and gradual, have now been forced to recognize the critical role played by rare but devastating catastrophes like the impact that killed the dinosaurs.
Table of Contents
CHAPTER 1: Armageddon 3
CHAPTER 2: Ex Libro Lapidum Historia Mundi 19
CHAPTER 3: Gradualist versus Catastrophist 43
CHAPTER 4: Iridium 59
CHAPTER 5: The Search for the Impact Site 82
CHAPTER 6: The Crater of Doom 106
CHAPTER 7: The World after Chicxulub 130
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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I remember as a kid (at the risk of dating myself) reading books on dinosaurs that postulated theories about what caused their extinction; climate change, extended periods of volcanic activity, to the x-ray radiation from a nearby supernova (that I found the most difficult to accept). From those choices, none were found to be ranked as the likely cause. Then a few years later, I saw a new report on TV that a group of scientist believe what cause the end of the dinosaurs and was formally presented to the scientifc community for consideration, scrutiny and acceptance. This book is the story of how those scientist presented a theory that is considered one of the greatest discoveries of the twentieth century. Walter Alverez has really taken into consideration to present this story for people of all walks of life to understand without talking over their heads with scientific lingo. His thoughtfulness really shines through in his writing. The story is light-hearted with it share of funny and disappointing moments in all the while make you feel what he and his team felt as the story unfolded. You will learn about deep time, basic geology and paleontology with a sprinkle of astronomy which helps to tie everything together and explains how a comet (or asteroid) slammed into Earth 65 million years ago to end the reign of the dinosaurs. If you keep that in mind you will enjoy this book. It is not a typical 'dinosaur book', although the first chapter describes what the dinosaurs may have experienced from their point of view that I found to be very vivid. All and all, I found this book to be a must read for anyone that would like to have a deeper understanding of not only how the comet or asteroid killed off the most successful reign the earth has ever seen, put how much work and preserverence it takes to prove a theory through scientific means.