What if the Moon Didn't Exist?: Voyages to Earths That Might Have Been

Overview

In this engaging and accessible exploratory work, accomplished astrophysicist Neil F. Comins shows how ten hypothetical astronomical situations would affect our planet and life on it. What if the Moon didn't exist, for example? The Earth would be rotating much faster than it presently does, tides would be lower, and life would be much more primitive than it is today. What if the Moon Didn't Exist? has been made into TV, radio, planetarium, and theater shows, and became the theme to Mitsubishi's pavilion at the ...

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Overview

In this engaging and accessible exploratory work, accomplished astrophysicist Neil F. Comins shows how ten hypothetical astronomical situations would affect our planet and life on it. What if the Moon didn't exist, for example? The Earth would be rotating much faster than it presently does, tides would be lower, and life would be much more primitive than it is today. What if the Moon Didn't Exist? has been made into TV, radio, planetarium, and theater shows, and became the theme to Mitsubishi's pavilion at the World Expo in Nagoya, Japan in 2005.

Praise for What if the Moon Didn't Exist

"...a new genre...Seductively cunning...All these "what-ifs" have the cumulative effect of making us excruciatingly aware of what a special and precarious place we inhabit - and how easy it would have been for it to be otherwise." -The Washington Post

"Imaginative and stimulating." -Booklist

"Comins's scientific expertise is dizzying. It takes a rare writer to manipulate so many unknown factors with such ease and convincing detail. This book will thrill everyone who can't help wondering "what if..." -Astronomy Book Club

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Comins, an astronomy professor at the University of Maine, inverts the anthropic principle of cosmology--suggesting that the universe evolved in order to produce life as we know it--and envisions an array of biosystems that would likely have occurred if particular events had not taken place. The first of these, after describing how our moon was formed from the impact of an asteroid on the molten earth, posits the characteristics of life that might have evolved without the moon's influence, e.g., diminished tidal changes would have reduced the number of species. The first few of these speculations are intriguing; then the device becomes boring, relying on a kind of ``wow!'' response that readers of popular science will find hard to sustain. Many of these scenarios are necessarily vague. Posing a supernova explosion only 50 light years away, Comins notes that food-chain relationships would break down and nature would have to ``rebuild'' the ``hierarchies of life.'' BOMC and QPB alternates; Newbridge Book Club dual selection. (Nov.)
Library Journal
The questioning title of this book sounds like the product of a child's naive curiosity. In reality, however, it is entirely possible that a moon might not have formed in Earth's orbit, and without our nearest astronomical neighbor this planet would have been a quite different world indeed. For example, without the moon's gravitational influence upon the Earth's tides, the planet would rotate considerably faster so that a day would last approximately eight hours. Astronomer Comins considers several equally plausible and equally fascinating planetary scenarios. For instance, what if the Earth had less mass? What if a star exploded near the Earth? What if the Earth's ozone layer were depleted? In doing so, he has produced a very witty, entertaining, and thought-provoking work of popular science that is appropriate for high school, public, and undergraduate library collections alike. Recommended.-- Gregg Sapp, Montana State Univ. Libs., Bozeman
Booknews
Leads readers on a speculative scientific journey by envisioning and explaining what our planet would be like if various aspects of our physical situation had been created differently or suddenly were to change. As in his "what if" pieces in Astronomy magazine, the author uses his knowledge of geology, ecology, meteorology, botany, biology, chemistry, physics, and astronomy to clearly and engagingly show the general reader how our life-sustaining planet is the result of a remarkable and delicate balance of natural phenomena. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781475930948
  • Publisher: iUniverse, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 9/14/2012
  • Pages: 332
  • Sales rank: 710,053
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.74 (d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction
1 What If the Moon Didn't Exist? Solon 1
2 What If the Moon Were Closer to the Earth? Lunholm 50
3 What If the Earth Had Less Mass? Petiel 90
4 What If the Earth Were Tilted Like Uranus? Urania 116
5 What If the Sun Were More Massive? Granstar 148
6 What If a Star Exploded Near the Earth? Antar 185
7 What If a Star Passed Near the Solar System? Cerberon 205
8 What If a Black Hole Passed Through the Earth? Diablo 223
9 Seeing the World Through Infrarose-Colored Glasses: Earth 243
10 From New Worlds to Our World: What If the Ozone Layer Were Depleted? Earth 270
Bibliography 293
Index 301
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