In 1980 Walter Alvarez and his Nobel-winning father Luis proposed that the dinosaurs became extinct at the boundary between the Cretaceous and Tertiary periods due to the impact of an asteroid the size of Mt. Everest.Ten years later the theory was confirmed when the Chixchulub crater was located off the Yucatan peninsula.
Shortly after I started reading this, Walter Alvarez came back from several months in Italy.I mentioned that I was reading this book."Oh, that's a good one," he said."He (Powell) read a lot of the actual research papers, so it's one of the better books."
With a recommendation like that, I'd have a hard time rating this book less than four stars.Walter is biased, of course.It's about his contribution to science, and it is supportive of his claims.What's not to like?
Powell states that the interest of the book is "not only in what caused the K-T extinction, but in how scientists reacted to the Alvarez theory." His explanation of the K-T extinction is pretty straightforward, and well-supported by the research articles he cites.He also does a very good job of covering the disagreements with the theory, and the kerfluffle caused by those disagreements.Walter's father was irascible, and two of the anti-impactors were stalwart, so there were what pass in the scientific world for fireworks.
Walter's book, T. Rex and the Crater of Doom, focuses on the sleuthing they did to develop the theory and find the crater.It's both exciting and very informative.If you're looking for a less dry explanation of the K-T extinction event, I recommend his book over Powell's.Walter does not cover the controversy, though.He's far too much of a gentleman.So if you're interested in that aspect, this is a very good book.Powell lists the main arguments against impact, and the leading proponents of those theories.He clearly doesn't agree with them, but he gives the reader enough information that that those who are curious can read up on them.
I'm biased.I adore Walter, and see no reason not to consider the impact-extinction explanation a fact.This book confirms my biases, so I liked it.
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