Thursday, February 25, 2010

We're all going to die!

No, not from a nor'easter snowstorm (watch the news and you'd think it's never snowed in the northeast in February before).  We've got a woodstove, candles, and plenty of food and books if we lose power (and even camping equipment to cook with and lanterns if power's out for a while).  At most, I'll suffer anxiety for being unable to check my email and read blogs (yes, I'm an Internet addict)!

The title of this post rather refers to a book I'm currently finishing up called Death from the Skies! These are the Ways the World Will End... by Dr. Philip Plait of Bad Astronomy fame.

Plait provides and entertaining look at all of the ways the universe could kill us - all of us.  He includes discussions of asteroid impacts, massive geomagnetic storms, supernova, gamma ray bursters, black holes, and even alien attacks!

The best thing about his book, unlike those awful specials on cable TV, is that it's firmly rooted in science.  Many of the possible ways the universe could kill us, Plait explains, are so statistically unlikely as to be virtually impossible (e.g. a nearby supernova) while others are a virtual certainly - at least on a long-enough time scale (e.g. asteroid impact).

Reading this book will teach you a lot about basic astronomy.  Stellar evolution, for example, is covered in a lot of detail when discussing the eventual fate of our Sun, supernova, and the formation of exotic objects like neutron stars and black holes.

I've been reading the book at night before I fall asleep.  I'm surprised I haven't had any nightmares yet - there's a lot to worry about!

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