In this fascinating look at our closest planetary neighbor, David Grinspoon explains the incredible scientific advances made possible by the Magellan space probe. Grinspoon examines the disturbing possibility that Venus was once very much like the earth in terms of climate and habitability. Photos.In this fascinating look at our closest planetary neighbor, David Grinspoon explains the incredible scientific advances made possible by the Magellan space probe. Grinspoon examines the disturbing possibility that Venus was once very much like the earth in terms of climate and habitability. Photos.Read Less
Publishers Weekly, 1996-12-30 University of Colorado-Boulder planetary scientist Grinspoon clearly loves the subject of this exemplary work, the unfolding of our knowledge of "Earth's Twin." As a principal scientist on the recent Magellan mission to Venus, he quite naturally focuses on that project's discoveries, but his book is rich as well in anecdotes about correct and incorrect speculations, blind alleys and spectacular surprises as human knowledge of our sister planet grew over the centuries. Grinspoon himself winds up speculating about non-carbon-based life on Venus and about the possibility that carbon-based life began there and migrated here on meteorites four billion years ago. Though some might view this concept as outrageous, his irreverent style and his admission that he is indulging in a flight of fancy with serious intent make his final chapter, like all his others, great fun as well as greatly informative. At important points in the book, Grinspoon leaves Venus and returns to Earth, highlighting the way people do-and love-science, the relationship between big science and national defense projects, the vagaries of government funding and, most important, our role as custodians and manipulators of our fragile environment. His book is full of quirky facts, references to popular culture, clever similes and inventive and revealing metaphors and analogies. Even the footnotes are entertaining. But Grinspoon remains true to his serious purpose, concluding that "the most important benefit of planetary explanation will be self-knowledge.... We should treasure every bit of knowledge and insight Venus can provide. It's the only twin we've got." Photos not seen by PW. (Feb.)
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