The epic history of the universe, and our planet, is delved into with great care by Bob Berman in his new volume Earth-Shattering: Violent Supernovas, Galactic Explosions, Biological Mayhem, Nuclear Meltdowns, and Other Hazards to Life in Our Universe (a title I will only fully write out this one time). The book is eye-opening to say the least and is chock-full of everything you’d ever want to know about the universe, Earth, and the possible events that could lead to our demise. There’s a lot to be learned about this wild universe of ours, and Berman presents the facts in an entertaining and intellectual way. Expect to say the phrase “huh, I didn’t know that” more times than you have in the past few years combined.
The book is broken up into three parts. The first looks at the universe at large, explaining how the universe came to be, how Earth got its start, and how various cosmic forces attacked each other for millennia. I learned a lot, to put it mildly, coming away with a better understanding of so many things I took for granted.
The second part looks at the many events that have wreaked havoc on Earth itself. These are the expected events, the ones we know the most about. Berman dives into the dinosaurs, the plague, the ice age, and pays special attention to many of the new cataclysms that may not have been categorized as such in recent times. This part fascinated me the most with its in-depth research and bevy of facts I hadn’t previously heard.
The third part is shorter, looking at the horrors that are to come. The scale on this section is a bit longer than we’re used to thinking about (try billions of years) but it’s still timely to consider. We’re reminded that anything can happen, at any time. It’s amazing we’ve made it this far as a planet. As a side note, the final pages made me realize the television reruns of today are the Rosetta stones of tomorrow. That was an unintended mind-blowing revelation.
To conclude, Earth-Shattering is a great piece of scientific nonfiction, written in an accessible tone and style. The universe is a violent, temperamental place, filled with foreign bodies that are continuously hurtling toward each other. Understanding it a bit more gave me an expanded view of our place in the greater scheme of things.
NOTE: I was provided a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest, unbiased review.
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