- Asteroid : Earth Destroyer or New Frontier?
(1996) by Patricia
Barnes-Svarney covers the nature and origins of
asteroids; how comets are related to asteroids; the scars
Earth bears from cosmic impacts; the impact theory of
extinction; the search for near-Earth objects; methods of
defense against impactors; and the possibility of mining
near-Earth asteroids. This book is marred by a number of
questionable statements. See David Morrison's review
Asteroid: Earth Destroyer or
New Frontier contains 292 pages, several
black-and-white diagrams and photos, endnotes with references
and suggestions for further reading, and an index.
- Catastrophism : Asteroids, Comets and Other Dynamic Events in Earth History
(1998) by Richard Huggett is a revised edition of his book
Catastrophism: Systems of Earth History
originally published in 1990. Most of the text remains
unchanged from first edition except for a few minor
corrections. Huggett has added a new prologue, a revised
final chapter, and some useful 1990s references. The
prologue mentions, among other things, Clube et al's work on
the Taurid complex and the Tollmann's scenario for an impact
induced series of tsunamis as the event behind the Biblical
deluge story. The updated final chapter includes a
discussion of Herb Shaw's ideas about the role of non-linear
dynamics in the solar system.
- Comet and Asteroid Impact Hazards on a Populated Earth : Computer Modeling
(1999) by John S. Lewis covers the physics, chemistry, and
environmental effects of impact events especially on shorter
timescales. He suggests that previous estimates of impact
damage over periods of a few hundred to a few thousand years
have been too low. The reason is that previous studies have
tended to ignore the role played by rare impactors
possessing exceptional srength, unusually slow entry velocity,
and near-horizontal entry angles. Lewis provides estimates of
both the mean casualty rate and the expected statistical
fluctuations in that rate. He emphasizes that powerful
Tunguska-like airburst events result in more fatalities than
they have generally been credited, over periods of a few
thousand years, and that these events leave little direct
The book includes a 3 1/2" MS
DOS format floppy disk containing a BASIC program allowing you
to simulate the effects of impact events over time. The BASIC
program is designed to run under PC GW-BASIC.
Comet and Asteroid Impact Hazards contains
- Controversy : Catastrophism and Evolution : The Ongoing Debate
(1999) by Trevor Palmer.
Controversy contains 475 pages, a
bibliography, an index, and a number of illustrations.
- Cosmic Collisions : Cosmic Collisions
(1996) by Dana Desonie discusses the nature and origins of
comets and asteroids; Earth's history of cosmic collisions;
the impact theory of dinosaur extinction; twentieth century
impacts including Tunguska, Sikhote-Alin, Chihuahua, Mexico,
and Shoemaker-Levy 9's impact on Jupiter; the difference
between local and global catastrophic impacts and how to
assess the risks of these events; the search for potentially
destructive near-Earth objects; and methods of defense
against such impactors. Because it is short and relatively
non-technical, Cosmic Collisions offers a
good choice for a first introduction to the topic of cosmic
contains 128 pages, many black-and-white illustrations,
suggestions for further reading, and an index. David Levy
and Carolyn and Eugene Shoemaker provide the foreword.
- Craters, Cosmos, and Chronicles : A New Theory of Earth
(1995) by Herbert R. Shaw of the U. S. Geological Survey
applies nonlinear dynamics to the impact pattern on the
Earth. Shaw argues that much of the impact cratering record
on Earth (and in the solar system in general) is nonlinearly
organized rather than random. He suggests that an
intermittently filled and emptied geocentric reservoir of
resonantly held impactors has played a key role in the
patterns of impacts on Earth during the Phanerozoic Eon (the
last 570 my) and probably for much of the Precambrian as
well. Shaw sees this patterned input of impacting energy
reflected in mountain building, volcanism, plate tectonics,
geomagnetic field behavior, and the fossil record.
Craters, Cosmos, and Chronicles contains 688
pages, 37 figures, 27 appendices, extensive chapter notes, a
bibliography, and an index. William Glen provides the
- Doomsday Asteroid
(1997, 1998) by Donald W. Cox and James H. Chestek allocates
fewer pages to the possible danger from what the authors call
"cosmic objects threatening earth," or COTE for short, than
the other books listed here. Instead, they devote most of
their book to discussing ways to rejuvenate the space program
by capturing, mining, and terra-forming asteroids and comets.
Cox and Chestek focus more on short-term goals than does John
Lewis in Mining the Sky, so these two books
complement each other. However, there are a number of
erroneous statements that reduce the usefulness of the book,
such as misinformation on the gravity of Ceres, the nature of
Kuiper's model for comets, the time it takes for the solar
system to circumnavigate the galaxy, and so on.
was co-author of the classic 1964 book Islands in
Space: The Challenge of the Planetoids which fired
my imagination as a teenager. This new book is partly an
update of that classic. I expect it will kindle the
imagination of a new generation of space enthusiasts as well.
Doomsday Asteroid contains 338
pages, several photographs and drawings, chapter-end and
book-end bibliographies, and an index.
- Exodus to Arthur : Catastrophic Encounters With Comets
(1999) by Mike Baillie.
Arthur contains 256 pages, a bibliogaphy, and an
- Fire on Earth : Doomsday, Dinosaurs, and Humankind
(1996,1997) by John
and Mary Gribbin also discusses the hazards posed by
near-earth-crossing objects. Includes sections on the great
extinctions, the Tunguska incident, and Clube and Napier's
work on the Taurid complex.
Earth contains 264 pages, bibliographical
references, and an index.
- Hazards Due to Comets and Asteroids
(1994) edited by Tom
Gehrels, with assistance from M. S. Matthews and A. M.
Schumann, contains papers from 120 collaborating authors
covering the impact danger from earth-crossing objects as
well as hazard mitigation and resource utilization. The
authors represent several contrasting points of view,
including both those who consider impact processes as
stochastic to those who view them as non-stochastic (e.g.,
Victor Clube and Duncan Steel). The book is divided into the
following sections (see the complete
table of contents):
- Small Bodies
- Searches, Orbit Determination, and Prediction
Populations and Impact Flux
- Physical Properties
- Space Exploration
- Effects of NEO Impact
- Considerations for Future Work
Hazards Due To Comets And Asteroids
contains 1300 pages, a glossary, bibliographical references,
an appendix listing the 103 earth-crossing asteroids known up
through 1993, and an index. This book offers the best
technical reference to near-earth objects in one volume.
- Impact! : The Threat of Comets and Asteroids
(1996, 1997) by astronomer Gerrit L. Verschuur offers a
review of the idea of dangerous impacts as proposed by
various nineteenth and twentieth century authors. He includes
unorthodox viewpoints such as those of Clube and Napier and
the Tollmanns as well as more mainstream ideas such as the
Alvarez "dinosaur killer" impact at the end of the
Cretaceous. Verschuur also talks about the relationship
between impact events and tsunamis, the probabilities of
impacts, the Great Jupiter Comet Crash of 1994, and other
topics. His dicussion of who knew what and when about the
Chicxulub crater is particularly interesting.
Impact! contains 237 pages, several
photographs, a bibliography, and an index.
- Impact Earth : Asteroids, Comets and Meteors : The Growing Threat
(1999) by Austen Atkinson is really two books in one. The
first provides an overview of the impact threat. The second
offers a novella about the aftermath of a large impact.
Impact Earth : Asteroids, Comets and Meteors
: The Growing Threat contains 256 pages, a
bibliography, a glossary, and an index. Introduction by Brian
Marsden and Afterword by Jonathan Tate.
- Mining the Sky : Untold Riches from the Asteroids, Comets, and Planets
by John S.
Lewis complements his book Rain of Iron and
Ice. In this book Lewis considers how to enrich our
dwindling natural resources not only by mining and
transforming asteroids and comets but also by harvesting the
vast resources of the other planets and moons of the solar
system. Lewis is more "futuristic" than are Cox and Chestek
in the other recent book on mining asteroids and comets,
Doomsday Asteroid, discussed below.
Mining The Sky contains 274 pages, several
photographs, a short bibliography, a glossary, and an index.
- Near-Earth Objects : The United Nations International Conference (Annals of th
edited by John L. Remo offers a compilation of papers by 95
authors which were presented at a meeting held April 24
through 26 in 1995. Remo suggests the topics in this volume
can be thought of as a continuation of those in
Hazards Due To Comets And Asteroids edited by
Gehrels (see above). The table of
contents is available online.
Near-Earth Objects contains 632 pages.
- Rain of Iron and Ice : The Very Real Threat of Comet and Asteroid Bombardment
(1996,1997) by John S.
Lewis, co-director of the NASA/University of Arizona
Space Engineering Research Center, also discusses the hazards
posed by near-earth-crossing objects. A particularly useful
feature is the table listing property damage, injuries, and
deaths caused by meteorite falls on pages 176 through 182.
Rain of Iron and Ice contains 236
pages, several photographs, and an index.
- Rogue Asteroids and Doomsday Comets : The Search for the Million Megaton Menac
(1995) by Duncan Steel of the Anglo-Australian Observatory
and the University of Adelaide provides a readable
non-technical discussion of the hazards posed by
near-earth-crossing objects. Steel discusses the most recent
results of the search for such objects as well as the
proposals for diverting objects which appear to be headed for
a collision with the Earth.
and Doomsday Comets contains 308 pages, annotated
bibliographical references, and an index. Arthur C. Clarke
provides the foreword.
- The Day the Sky Split Apart
(1995) by Roy A.
Gallant discusses the Tunguska event of 1908. Gallant
has been director of the Southworth Planetarium at the
University of Southern Maine for many years. Though
nominally aimed at "young readers" (ages 10-14), Gallant's
book will not put off adults. Gallant offers a fine
discussion of the history of expeditions to the Tunguska site,
provides eye-witness accounts of the Tunguska event, and
surveys the explanations which have been suggested as a
cause. Gallant notes that while many U.S. scientists believe
a stony asteroid was the cause, many Russian scientists still
prefer a cometary origin.
The Day The Sky
Split Apart contains 156 pages, photographs (mostly
by the author) and drawings, a bibliography, and an index.
Academician Nickolai Vasiliev of the Russian Academy of
Sciences provides the preface.
- Voices of the Rocks : A Scientist Looks at Catastrophes and Ancient Civilizations
(1999) by Robert M. Schoch and Robert Aquinas McNally.
Voices of the Rocks contains several
illustrations, a bibliogrphy, and an index.