T. Rex and the Crater of Doom by Walter Alvarez

“T. Rex” and the Crater of Doom by Walter Alvarez
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Knowing that we have pretty much pinned down what killed the dinosaurs blows my mind. Growing up I was constantly wondering if we would ever figure it out, and I wanted to know so badly! Unbeknownst to me, Walter Alvarez and teams of geologists, paleontologists, physicists and astronomists were working tirelessly to solve the mystery of the K-T boundary extinction. T. Rex and the Crater of Doom is the recounting of their efforts. Their failures, mistakes, and serendipitous discoveries. It is amazing. I wish the book had been longer! (There is a comprehensive list of references in the back that you can use for further reading, but it seems like it’s mostly articles published in scientific journals. Not the sort of stuff known for gripping dialogue.) Alvarez starts out with the basics of earth history, conveniently assuring that all his readers have the necessary level of understanding to follow along. The topical sections are tidily divided with bold headings, so if you want to skip the segment where he discusses the geologic time scale it’s easy to do, although it’s pretty short. From there he takes us step by step through the puzzles science needed to solve to figure out what killed the dinosaurs. Alvarez makes a point of including all the times they got things wrong, the people who grilled them on their new hypotheses, the people who worked with them to hammer out the misconceptions. Each one, regardless of whether they disagreed with him or not, he writes of with the greatest respect. That was one of the things that impressed me the most. It didn’t matter if they fought like cats and dogs over the question of catastrophism, in his book Alvarez has nothing but respect for each and every one of them. Every person’s opinion and disagreement is vital to hammering out the most accurate theories possible. Every question is vital. The scientific world Alvarez portrays in his wonderful book is one I want to be a part of, because everyone is valuable.

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