Tuesday, April 6, 2010

T. Rex and the Crater of Doom: Book Review

Easily one of the most enjoyable, semi-serious scientific books I've read...

Though for a long time I have known about the major theories behind why the dinosaurs became extinct, even knowing the location of the impact crater detailed within this book and most of the major details surrounding it more than a decade ago, this book provided the details I had not previously been privy to.

Written by the lead scientist behind the development of the now well accepted impact extinction theory, Walter Alvarez, this book is a first hand account of the near 30 year effort to bring his ideas to a conclusion. In fact it was only in the past months that a panel of scientists from across numerous spectrum declared the debate virtually over. Though some scientists cling to climate change, volcanoes and other means of destruction for the dinosaurs, Alvarez's impact theory remains dominant and holds the preponderance of evidence.

Herein is the world spanning search for evidence, going into how rocks are dated, the fact that there have been numerous world-wide extinction events with the death of the dinosaurs being only one of the more recent ones, and numerous other tidbits of background. The best part of all of this is that Alvarez tells his tale in a very matter of fact, simple method. Not only is the book a quick read but its an easy read. I didn't find myself having to read, and reread, and reread again each page in order to understand the methods, theories and processes behind each step forward. Perhaps this is due to the fact that so much of Alvarez's work is hands on, digging in the dirt, making inferences from visible physical evidence, but whatever the reason the end work is excellent.

If you want a basic understanding of the end of the dinosaurs and the events that allowed for the rise of mammals in general and YOU in particular, this book should be on your shelf.

No comments: