"A cracking read, combining storytelling of the highest order with a trove of information. . . . What's remarkable is that it all fits together."--Wall Street Journal
"Successful science writing tells a complete story of the 'how'--the methodical marvel building up to the 'why'--and Randall does just that."--New York Times Book Review
" Randall] is a lucid explainer, street-wise and informal. Without jargon or mathematics, she steers us through centuries of sometimes tortuous astronomical history."--The Guardian
In Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs, Professor Lisa Randall, one of today's most influential theoretical physicists, takes readers on an intellectual adventure through the history of the cosmos, showing how events in the farthest reaches of the Universe created the conditions for life--and death--on our planet.
Sixty-six million years ago, an object the size of a city crashed into Earth, killing off the dinosaurs, along with three-quarters of the planet's species. Challenging the usual assumptions about the simple makeup of the unseen material that constitutes 85% of the matter in the Universe, Randall explains how a disk of dark matter in the Milky Way plane might have triggered the cataclysm.
But Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs does more than present a radical idea. With clarity and wit, it explains the nature of the Universe, dark matter, the Milky Way galaxy, comets, asteroids, and impacts. This breathtaking synthesis, illuminated by pop culture references and social and political viewpoints, reveals the deep relationships among the small and the large, the visible and the hidden, as well as the astonishing beauty of the connections that surround us. It's impossible to read this book and look at either the Earth or the sky again in the same way.
A reference guide to gems, semi-precious stones and crystals.
Gemstones and crystals are used for jewelry, industry, lasers and precision technology. Firefly Guide to Gems is a practical, compact guide to the identification and use of precious and semi-precious stones, novelty stones, agates and crystals.
An introduction explains geology, chemistry and gemstone properties in clear and accessible terms. Key aspects of gemstones are explained such as crystal structures and optical and physical properties.
The first section of the book focuses on precious gems in their many forms, with illustrations of priceless jewelry. Practical information includes:
- Fashioning and cutting
- Types and shapes of cut
- Handling and storing gemstones
- Weighing and measuring stones
The second and main section supplies complete descriptions of a wide range of gems, organized by chemical composition, for instance:
- Carbon (diamond)
- Aluminum oxide (saphire and ruby)
- Phosphate (turquoise)
- Silica (opal)
A fascinating profile of each gem is accompanied with color photographs of the raw crystal, common cuts, and finally polished for use in jewelry. At-a-glance charts provide technical details such as refractive index, crystal group, luster, hardness and cleavage for each gem.
Easy-to-read and abundantly illustrated, Firefly Guide to Gems is ideal for collectors and rockhounds.
Environmental historian Philip L. Fradkin offers a vivid history of earthquakes and an eloquent guide to the San Andreas Fault, the seismic scar that bisects the Golden State's spectacular scenery. The author includes dramatic stories of legendary earthquakes elsewhere: in New York, New England, the central Mississippi River Valley, Europe, and the Far East. Combining human and natural dramas, he places the reader at the epicenter of the most invisible, unpredictable, and feared of the earth's violent phenomena. On the eve of the millennium, as cyberspace crackles with apocalyptic visions, Fradkin reaches beyond the earthshaking moment to examine the mythology, culture, social implications, politics, and science of earthquakes.
The Colorado River is an essential resource for a surprisingly large part of the United States, and every gallon that flows down it is owned or claimed by someone. David Owen traces all that water from the Colorado's headwaters to its parched terminus, once a verdant wetland but now a million-acre desert. He takes readers on an adventure downriver, along a labyrinth of waterways, reservoirs, power plants, farms, fracking sites, ghost towns, and RV parks, to the spot near the U.S.-Mexico border where the river runs dry.
Water problems in the western United States can seem tantalizingly easy to solve: just turn off the fountains at the Bellagio, stop selling hay to China, ban golf, cut down the almond trees, and kill all the lawyers. But a closer look reveals a vast man-made ecosystem that is far more complex and more interesting than the headlines let on.
The story Owen tells in Where the Water Goes is crucial to our future: how a patchwork of engineering marvels, byzantine legal agreements, aging infrastructure, and neighborly cooperation enables life to flourish in the desert --and the disastrous consequences we face when any part of this tenuous system fails.
In Earth, the acclaimed author of Trilobite and Life takes us on a grand tour of the earth's physical past, showing how the history of plate tectonics is etched in the landscape around us.Beginning with Mt. Vesuvius, whose eruption in Roman times helped spark the science of geology, and ending in a lab in the West of England where mathematical models and lab experiments replace direct observation, Richard Fortey tells us what the present says about ancient geologic processes. He shows how plate tectonics came to rule the geophysical landscape and how the evidence is written in the hills and in the stones. And in the process, he takes us on a wonderful journey around the globe to visit some of the most fascinating and intriguing spots on the planet.
It is a prominent geological feature that is almost impossible to see unless you know where to look. Hundreds of thousands of people drive across it every day. The San Andreas Fault is everywhere, and primed for a colossal quake. For decades, scientists have warned that such a sudden shifting of the Earth's crust is inevitable. In fact, it is a geologic necessity.
The San Andreas fault runs almost the entire length of California, from the redwood forest to the east edge of the Salton Sea. Along the way, it passes through two of the largest urban areas of the country--San Francisco and Los Angeles. Dozens of major highways and interstates cross it. Scores of housing developments have been planted over it. The words "San Andreas" are so familiar today that they have become synonymous with earthquake.
Yet, few people understand the San Andreas or the network of subsidiary faults it has spawned. Some run through Hollywood, others through Beverly Hills and Santa Monica. The Hayward fault slices the football stadium at the University of California in half. Even among scientists, few appreciate that the San Andreas fault is a transient, evolving system that, as seen today, is younger than the Grand Canyon and key to our understanding of earthquakes worldwide.
The bestselling author of The Professor and the Madman and The Map That Changed the World examines the enduring and world-changing effects of the catastrophic eruption off the coast of Java of the earth's most dangerous volcano -- Krakatoa.
The legendary annihilation in 1883 of the volcano-island of Krakatoa -- the name has since become a byword for a cataclysmic disaster -- was followed by an immense tsunami that killed nearly forty thousand people. Beyond the purely physical horrors of an event that has only very recently been properly understood, the eruption changed the world in more ways than could possibly be imagined. Dust swirled round die planet for years, causing temperatures to plummet and sunsets to turn vivid with lurid and unsettling displays of light. The effects of the immense waves were felt as far away as France. Barometers in Bogota and Washington, D.C., went haywire. Bodies were washed up in Zanzibar. The sound of the island's destruction was heard in Australia and India and on islands thousands of miles away. Most significant of all -- in view of today's new political climate -- the eruption helped to trigger in Java a wave of murderous anti-Western militancy among fundamentalist Muslims: one of the first outbreaks of Islamic-inspired killings anywhere.
Simon Winchester's long experience in the world wandering as well as his knowledge of history and geology give us an entirely new perspective on this fascinating and iconic event as he brings it telling back to life.
Until a few decades ago, the ocean depths were almost as mysterious and inaccessible as outer space. Oceans cover two-thirds of the earth's surface with an average depth of more than two miles--yet humans had never ventured more than a few hundred feet below the waves. One of the great scientific and archaeological feats of our time has been finally to cast light on the "eternal darkness" of the deep sea. This is the story of that achievement, told by the man who has done more than any other to make it possible: Robert Ballard.Ballard discovered the wreck of the Titanic. He led the teams that discovered hydrothermal vents and "black smokers"--cracks in the ocean floor where springs of superheated water support some of the strangest life-forms on the planet. He was a diver on the team that explored the mid-Atlantic ridge for the first time, confirming the theory of plate tectonics. Today, using a nuclear submarine from the U.S. Navy, he's exploring the ancient trade routes of the Mediterranean and the Black Sea for the remains of historic vessels and their cargo. In this book, he combines science, history, spectacular illustrations, and first-hand stories from his own expeditions in a uniquely personal account of how twentieth-century explorers have pushed back the frontiers of technology to take us into the midst of a world we could once only guess at. Ballard begins in 1930 with William Beebe and Otis Barton, pioneers of the ocean depths who made the world's first deep-sea dives in a cramped steel sphere. He introduces us to Auguste and Jacques Piccard, whose "Bathyscaph"descended in 1960 to the lowest point on the ocean floor. He reviews the celebrated advances made by Jacques Cousteau. He describes his own major discoveries--from sea-floor spreading to black smokers--as well as his technical breakthroughs, including the development of remote-operated underwater vehicles and the revolutionary search techniques that led to the discovery and exploration of the Titanic, the Nazi battleship Bismarck, ancient trading vessels, and other great ships. Readers will come away with a richer understanding of history, earth science, biology, and marine technology--and a new appreciation for the remarkable men and women who have explored some of the most remote and fascinating places on the planet.