Water from Heaven: The Story of Water From the Big Bang to the Rise of Civilization, and Beyond

Water from Heaven: The Story of Water From the Big Bang to the Rise of Civilization, and Beyond

by Robert Kandel
     
 
Covering a vast array of scientific fields and recent discoveries, this book tracks a remarkable substance in its liquid, solid, and gaseous states as it cycles through the seas, the atmosphere, land, icecaps and under the earth. Robert Kandel describes what we humans are doing to the water cycle and the climate and explains where we are heading.

The book

Overview

Covering a vast array of scientific fields and recent discoveries, this book tracks a remarkable substance in its liquid, solid, and gaseous states as it cycles through the seas, the atmosphere, land, icecaps and under the earth. Robert Kandel describes what we humans are doing to the water cycle and the climate and explains where we are heading.

The book investigates how nuclear reactions in the interiors of stars produce the oxygen needed to form H20. After showing how the atmosphere´s motions apportion moisture, the book follows the course of water over the land, into the soil, and through plants back to the atmosphere. From there, water travels along streams and great rivers back to the seas. The role of irrigation, the quest for clean water for cities, and the problems of pollution and public health are important elements of the story. The author considers climate change and how political and economic decisions that we make today will affect water resources for the next century. Finally, the author considers the geopolitical role of water and the tensions generated by the control of a nation´s water by other countries who "own" the watershed or upstream resources.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
No tangible substance means more to us than water, and in this scientific history, astrophysicist Kandel traces not only the cycles of water molecules on Earth, but their voyages through time and space as well. Since water is made up of hydrogen and oxygen-very old elements, cosmologically speaking-Kandel applies a Michener-like thoroughness to his subject in the first section of his book. Starting with the Big Bang, he methodically works his way along toward the origin of life. "No water, no life," he states succinctly, showing how crucial water is to the biochemical development of organisms. The second part of the book, dedicated to "Water in Today's World," covers weather, tides and currents, and the familiar rain-river-sea-cloud cycle that children learn in school. Kandel works to make the hard science exciting, but he really shines in the last third of the book, which is devoted to "hydropolitics." Water "could be the biggest problem of the 21st century," he writes, and he offers numerous examples (e.g., water conflict and management between Israel and its neighbors) to prove his point. Judging by the vulnerability of agrarian societies and the struggles of cities trying to support their growing populations, humans around the globe are having trouble finding, keeping and recycling water. While dense with facts and figures, Kandel's aquatic history is riveting, an exhaustive and complex examination of our most precious chemical compound. "Have a drink of water," says Kandel. You're sipping "the history of the Earth and of the universe." 21 illustrations (Jan.) Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.
U.S. Water News
[Kandel's] book will beguile both housewives and hydrologists...for now they'll better appreciate the actual world through which they wander and wonder.

— Peter Wild

Environmental Conservation
A very enjoyable book.

— Neil MacDonald

Nature

[A]n audacious tour de force that sweeps across time and space at a breathtaking pace... a masterful treatment of a complex subject that is of vital and growing importance.

Washington Post Book World

It is impossible to overestimate the importance of water to our daily lives and our place in the universe. This point may seem obvious but it gains fresh currency in Kandel's Water From Heaven... there is plenty here to fascinate.

Natural History

Explains in fascinating detail the origins of water on the planet Earth and how the molecules of water have circulated throughout time.

Booklist

Kandel explains the earth's elaborate and essential-to-life water cycle in a suitably fluid and mesmerizing narrative.... A wealth of invaluable information.

New Scientist

Kandel tells the story of water, from the big bang to global warming. He examines where it is, why it is, and how we use and abuse it.

Northeastern Naturalist

A fine discussion of large scale agriculture which is so heavily dependent on water supplies.

U.S. Water News - Peter Wild

[Kandel's] book will beguile both housewives and hydrologists...for now they'll better appreciate the actual world through which they wander and wonder.

Environmental Conservation - Neil MacDonald

A very enjoyable book.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780231122443
Publisher:
Columbia University Press
Publication date:
03/10/2003
Pages:
272
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

Soroosh Sorooshian

Robert Kandel's Water from Heaven does for water science what Stephen Hawking's A Brief History of Time accomplished for astrophysics. Kandel is to be congratulated for his superb and easy-to-read introduction to water, covering its presence from the inner core of the earth to outer space, and its evolutionary journey on earth from billions of years ago to the present. Water from Heaven is accurate in its coverage of the current state of our knowledge, and objective in its presentation of some of the more controversial environmental issues facing our future.

Meet the Author

Robert Kandel is a senior scientist of the C.N.R.S. (National Scientific Research Agency of France). He is a member of NASA's Earth Radiation Science Team and chief scientist for the French-Russian-German ScaRaB radiation mission and is currently working on a joint European-Japanese satellite project to observe clouds, aerosols, and radiation. He is the author of several books, including Earth and Cosmos and Our Changing Climate. He was born in Brooklyn and now lives in Paris, France.

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