COUNTING THE EONS by Isaac Asimov

COUNTING THE EONS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A further collection of essays (1980-81) from The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction: 16 informative pieces (plus one Miltonian flight of fancy) which Asimov, in a genial and urbane preface, hopes will help counteract the anti-science and narrow-mindedness fostered by the Moral Majority and the Creationists. His first subject is pressure: planetary atmospheres, the behavior of pressurized gases, and the odd ways highly compressed ice changes its crystal structure (ice VII, for example, melts at 100°C). Inevitably, there's a question-and-answer session on robots. Next come some ideas on those ever-fascinating subjects, how and why the dinosaurs became extinct (probably, the impact of a huge meteorite did them in). Moving farther afield, Asimov examines the dim but speedy Barnard's Star, and how wobbles in its motion may indicate the presence of Jupiter-type planets. On physics and cosmology, he journeys from the very small to the very large: i.e., from leptons, quarks, and the hypothesis of proton decay--via the constraints imposed by relativity--to the birth and death of the universe. . . and the related problem of whether the universe is "open" (doomed to expand forever) or, conceivably, "dosed" (eventually to contract and be reborn). Lastly, there's a pointless and rather absurd quest for science fictional elements in Paradise Lost. Mild introductory anecdotes, uncritical but pleasantly digestible explanations: a decided improvement over Asimov's last, ill-judged F & SF compendium, The Sun Shines Bright (1981).
Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1982
Publisher: Doubleday
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 1982




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