Sunday, Nov. 7, 2010

Earth and Space

Science with Alarming Flash

By David Luhrssen
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Seasons one of a pair of History Channel series, “The Universe” and “How the Earth was Made,” have been released in a six-disc Blu-ray set, “Earth and Space.” Both programs gather astronomers and expert to talk about interesting subjects including planets, stars and extraterrestrial life, and embed the short interviews in flashy, attention deficit visuals.

The problem with some episodes comes down to screenwriting when writers strike an alarmist tone, warning of cosmic rays “itching to kill all life on Earth” and “cosmic killers” ready to deal a death blow to our world. Of course, the threat of cosmic catastrophe is real and requires no hyperbole. Sixty-five million years ago an asteroid struck the Yucatan, science now believes (although until 40 years ago it dismissed such notions as beneath contempt), killing the dinosaurs and causing a sudden, drastic shift in global ecology.

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