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Destiny or Chance

Destiny or Chance
Our Solar System and its Place in the Cosmos


  • Date Published: November 2000
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521785211

£ 42.00

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About the Authors
  • Written by a leading planetary scientist, this book tells the remarkable story of how our solar system came into existence. It provides a fast-paced and expert tour of our new understanding of the Earth, its planetary neighbours and other planetary systems. We are shown why Mars is so small, where comets come from, how rings form around planets, why asteroids exist and why Pluto isn't a planet at all. En route we discover that chance events have shaped the course of the history of our solar system. Dramatic collisions, for example, have caused the tilts and spins of planets, the extinction of the dinosaurs and the rise of man. Finally, we look at how suitable Earth is for harbouring life, what other planetary systems look like and whether we are alone in the cosmos. For all those interested in understanding our solar system, this is a lucid and compelling read.

    • Authoritative and up to date, including the discovery of new planets and potential life on Mars
    • Many books describe the inventory of the solar system; this book is unique because it explains why the solar system looks the way it does and how it came to be
    • Presents a new synthesis that emphasises the role of chance events in the formation and evolution of our solar system
    • Written by one of the leading planetary scientists. Newly discovered Asteroid 5670 named Rosstaylor in honour of author in 1997
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'This book would make excellent background reading for astronomy students at both Bachelor and Masters level and gives enough pointers for them to be able to find more quantitative accounts as and when necessary. It is also an excellent read for the interested lay person … I enjoyed reading it very much and I fully recommend it to other readers who wish to have an authoritative but understandable overview of our solar system.' Iwan Williams, Astronomy and Geophysics

    'This book provides a fast-paced and expert tour through the new revolutions sweeping the study of Earth, its planetary neighbours, and other planetary systems. The author's viewpoint of our planetary system's uniqueness is essential reading for those who seek to understand our place in the universe.' Jonathan I. Lunine, University of Arizona

    ' … [contains a] wealth of factual information on the solar system … supplied with the solid authority of a lifetime's experience in planetological research, backed by impressive international plausits.' Edwin Budding, Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of New Zealand

    ' … an accessible, readable format, he includes many historical titbits and a multitude of marvellous facts and figures.' The Times Higher Education Supplement

    'This is a book that should be read by anyone who wants to be a scientist, is a scientist, or is interested in science.' Simon Conway Morris, Geological Magazine

    '… I found this a very readable book' Linda Fowler, The Open University Geological Society

    'A very easily read volume and a useful reference - a good buy!' Peter D. Mata, Spaceflight

    'This is just a wonderful book … this is not just another descriptive book about the solar system, but a book that explores the implications of that description … The book can be profitably read, I would think, by anyone from motivated high school students to professional scientists. It can most profitably be read by those who don't already understand the historical sciences.' Graham Ryder, Lunar and Planetary Information Bulletin

    'This is just a wonderful book … This is not just another descriptive book about the solar system, but a book that explores he implications of that description … Ross Taylor … is a fine writer - the essay-style prose runs easily, the accompanying images play their part, and the text is interwoven with fine interesting asides, especially historical ones (not too many planetary texts caan fluently bring in notes about Haydn).' Graham Ryder, Lunar and Planetary Information Bulletin

    '… fascinating questions form the core of Taylor's book … benefits from an accessible and engaging tone.' BBC Sky at Night

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    Product details

    • Date Published: November 2000
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521785211
    • length: 248 pages
    • dimensions: 227 x 153 x 15 mm
    • weight: 0.41kg
    • contains: 40 b/w illus.
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    1. Setting the stage
    2. The giants
    3. Escapees and survivors
    4. The twins
    5. Two special cases
    6. Causes and effects

  • Author

    Stuart Ross Taylor, Australian National University, Canberra

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