Countdown To Apocalypse: A Scientific Exploration Of The End Of The World

Countdown To Apocalypse: A Scientific Exploration Of The End Of The World

Paul Halpern

Language: English

Pages: 296

ISBN: 0738203580

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Inspired by the end of the millennium, celebrated science writer Paul Halpern tackles the fate of human civilization and our planet in this meditation on the end of the world. Beginning with the religious origins of the idea of apocalypse, Halpern shows how science has borrowed the metaphor to describe potential worldwide catastrophes. He spins out various scenarios for destruction, from nuclear war and global warming to a great flood and a new Ice Age. He argues that while human history will someday come to a close-even if we survived for billions of years, we would eventually face the end of the universe itself-in the meantime we have gained extraordinary control over our fate as a species. Faced with the power to steer our planet toward paradise or transform it into hell, he says, we must take steps to avoid those catalysts of apocalypse that are within our control.




















history was produced by the tiniest of agents: an especially virulent type of bacteria that, in a several year period, unleashed on more than one-third of Europe and Asia the experience of gruesome, untimely deaths. No one could have foreseen the ghastly toll this pernicious illness would have upon the world. The plague bacillus, Yersinia pestis, first identified by scientists in the 1890s, is a short bacteria that is said, under the microscope, to resemble a safety pin. It is carried primarily

in more mainstream churches. Another segment of former Millerites became interested in the theological ideas of Ellen G. White, founder of what was to become the Seventh-Day Adventists. She argued that October 22,1844, was misinterpreted to be doomsday. According to a revelation she had, this date constituted the day in which Christ entered a heavenly sanctuary to prepare for Ms earthly arrival. Her group thereby managed to avoid the pratfalls of setting a fixed time for the apocalypse, while

in June. As strange as it might seem, more than a foot of powder blanketed that region during that extraordinary month. Summer fashions included scarves and mittens; swirnsuits stayed packed away in dresser drawers. Hot weather never came. A freezing autumn succeeded the frigid summer. Autumn was followed, in turn, by a bitter cold winter. Crops failed, and famine ensued in many places. Those who lived through those times experienced, no doubt, a brief taste of what the dawn of an ice age would

when it is burned without proper filtration, it gives off a thick, acrid smoke, darkening the skies and filling the air with a sickening aroma, London was not the only heavily polluted city throughout much of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Industrial communities around the world, such as Pittsburgh, Detroit, Cleveland, Dortmund, Glasgow, and Manchester, to name a few, became notorious for their hazy skies, dirty streets, and foul waters. Only in the past few decades have clear, clean

background star, and could not possibly be an alien spacecraft. Though Hale was manifestly correct, his efforts did not convince Shramek's supporters; they accused him of being part of the "cover up" as well. Historically, there have been many other incidents of panic upon the arrival of a comet. For example, in the opening decade of this 180 COUNTDOWN TO APOCALYPSE century, scientists' detection of cyanogen (a poisonous gas when inhaled in high enough concentrations) in the tail of Halley's

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