The Life and Death of Planet Earth: How the New Science of Astrobiology Charts the Ultimate Fate of Our World

Overview

“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...

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Overview

“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.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Fascinating.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Provocative.” —The Washington Post

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780805075120
  • Publisher: Holt, Henry & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 9/28/2000
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 570,525
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.57 (d)

Meet the Author

Peter D. Ward and Donald Brownlee are the co-authors of the acclaimed and bestselling Rare Earth. Ward is a professor of geological science and zoology at the University of Washington and the author of nine other books, including Future Evolution, The Call of Distant Mammoths, and The End of Evolution, which was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Brownlee is a professor of astronomy at the University of Washington.

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Read an Excerpt

From The Life and Death of Planet Earth:

There's a difference between a human's life and the life of our planet. Ruth Ward, born in 1916, aged gracefully but never resembled her youth again. Hers was a one-way trip. Planets have a different trajectory-the Earth, for instance, appears to be on a round trip of sorts. If you fire a cannon straight up, the projectile climbs to a certain height, slows, stops, and then falls back to the ground. Our planet's trajectory is similar. It started as a very hot, oxygen-free world. Water, air, plants, solar energy and plate tectonics created the conditions for natural evolution, and many people assume that the cannonball of biological complexity is still arcing upward. We believe that the cannonball has already begun to drop, and that the Earth has already started a return to a hot world where life becomes less diverse, less complicated, and less abundant though time. The last life on Earth may look much like the first life-a single-celled bacterium, survivor and descendant of all that came before.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 31, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Great Scientic Research!

    I am really surprised this hasn't been a best seller yet. The author uses clever NASA research and clear examples to elaborately give readers an overview of what Earth's in store for. It's also good food for thought on how to ensure Earth does not die an unnatural death. Clearly given this framework we can think of ways to optimize the livable years.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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