THE DEATH OF THE SUN by John Gribbin


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Gribbin, a glib expositor of things astronomical, dons his speculative robes to predict some cold turns for the earth and the sun in the coming decades. Half the text is an up-to-date summary of solar and earth history. Here are familiar accounts of distance/mass/temperature relationships which support life on earth but hardly elsewhere in the solar system. The sun's position as a medium-sized star, and its fate compared with larger or smaller sisters, is also developed along conventional lines. What's new and different is the second half of the text. Here Gribbin counters orthodoxy with assertions that constancy and regularity are not characteristic of our sun--or anybody else's for that matter. For reasons known or unknown, the sun is perturbed, and may be generating 10% less heat at its core. The evidence is somewhat arcane. Gribbin relates it to the absence of certain species of neutrinos detectable in deep caves and to the varied complexities and rhythms of sunspot activity and solar flares. To make matters worse, the sun's "off-colorness" seems to render it more vulnerable to further disturbances--for example, by gravitational pulls exerted by the larger planets in certain alignments, All this can lead to sunquakes and maybe earthquakes and glacial chills. Gribbin is quick to acknowledge the taint of astrology when one introduces planetary alignments into astronomical arguments, and he is certainly opposed to horoscopes as such. What he does defend is his right to challenge conventional wisdom which--for no reason--has for long supported reason and order in the sun. And, he asks, might there not also be a slight disorder in the galaxy as a whole? Lively and discussable--by pros as well as armchair astronomers.
Pub Date: March 3rd, 1980
ISBN: 0440518547
Page count: 195pp
Publisher: Delacorte
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 1980


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