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The Nemesis Affair : A Story of the Death of Dinosaurs and the Ways of Science - David M. Raup

The Nemesis Affair

A Story of the Death of Dinosaurs and the Ways of Science


Published: 17th November 1999
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RRP $34.99

Nemesis is the name given by scientists to a (theoretical) small companion star to our sun. Every 26 million years, Nemesis's orbit brings it close enough to the sun to bombard our solar system with billions of comets. While most of the comets will float harmlessly beyond the outer planets, some passing through the sun's Oort Cloud will be deflected by its gravitational force toward Earth. Such a "large-body impact," the Nemesis theory holds, was responsible for the mass extinction that led to the demise of the dinosaurs. The next impact, millions of years from now, might very well extinguish humanity. In this lively, fascinating, and often disturbing book, updated and revised with the latest scientific evidence on terrestrial impacts, David M. Raup re-explores the controversies of the Nemesis theory from the trenches of the scientific community, and investigates the issues-both scientific and philosophical-of mass extinction. "A fascinating insider's view of scientists at work-and at odds-on the issues of extinction, evolution, and the fate of dinosaurs."-John Noble Wilford

Acknowledgmentsp. 9
Introduction 1999p. 11
Death Starp. 17
Nemesis: the theory
A brief chronology of the Nemesis Affair
Catastrophism and Earth Historyp. 29
Curvier versus Lyell
Mavericks and rash proposals
Otto Schindewolf
Digby McLaren
Harold Urey
Bombing Australia
Dinosaurs and the Death of Speciesp. 47
All species are extinct!
Origin of species
The extinction process
Death of the dinosaurs
Other Cretaceous extinctions
Other mass extinctions
Gubbio and the Iridium Anomalyp. 61
Why Gubbio?
The 1980 bombshell
Initial reactions
The Three-Meter Gap and Other Evidencep. 75
Hell Creek, Montana
Osmium isotopes
Shocked quartz
More iridium-anomaly sites
Soot and the great fire
The Plot Thickensp. 89
The killing scenario
The volcanic alternative
Impacts at other mass extinctions?
Two opinion polls
Enter Periodic Extinctionp. 107
Fischer's cycles
The NASA workshops
Sepkoski's Compendium
Number crunching
The 26-million-year periodicity
The Berlin conference
Sepkoski's Flagstaff presentation
The PNAS manuscript
Nemesis is Bornp. 131
Astrophysics and paleontology
Nature: April 19, 1984
The Sun's motion in the galaxy
The companion star
Nemesis versus Siva
Cratering periodicity
Planet X
Mounting Controversyp. 147
Controversy in science
Periodic extinction under fire
Nemesis under fire
Impact craters
Are Nemesis and dinosaurs independent?
Role of the Pressp. 163
The press: scientific and public
Press reactions to the Nemesis Affair
The tide turns
Toni Hoffman
The press: good or bad influence?
Onward to the Earth's Magnetic Fieldp. 181
Magnetic reversals
A research excursion
Peer review
Lutz rebuts
Belief Systems in Sciencep. 193
The scientific method
Guilty until proven innocent
Winning a lottery: science or religion?
The lunatic fringe
Wegener and continental drift
Belief systems and the Nemesis Affair
Epiloguep. 209
Update 1999p. 213
Indexp. 221
Table of Contents provided by Syndetics. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780393319187
ISBN-10: 0393319180
Audience: General
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 240
Published: 17th November 1999
Publisher: WW Norton & Co
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 21.0 x 14.0  x 1.5
Weight (kg): 0.21
Edition Number: 1