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T. Rex and the Crater of Doom

3.87 of 5 stars 3.87  ·  rating details  ·  528 ratings  ·  85 reviews
Sixty-five million years ago a gigantic comet or asteroid as big as Mount Everest slammed into the Yucatan Peninsula, creating an explosion on impact equivalent to the detonation of a hundred million hydrogen bombs. It produced a cloud of roiling debris that blackened the sky for months as well as other geologic disasters--and triggered the demise of Tyrannosaurus rex.
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Paperback, 208 pages
Published July 28th 1998 by Vintage (first published 1997)
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The Dinosaur Heresies by Robert T. BakkerT. Rex and the Crater of Doom by Walter AlvarezThe Princeton Field Guide to Dinosaurs by Gregory S. PaulWonderful Life by Stephen Jay GouldThe Gilded Dinosaur by Mark Jaffe
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2nd out of 109 books — 25 voters
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Science Writing
20th out of 114 books — 82 voters


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Community Reviews

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Greg
I love the cover to this book. I didn't love the material inside the book nearly as much, but it was still pretty interesting.

A bunch of years ago the dinosaurs had a really bad day when a meteor or comet the size of Los Angeles crashed into Mexico and killed them all off, except for the ones that were on Noah's Ark, and the still existing dinosaurs that live in Loch Ness and Lake Champlain, called Nessy and Champy respectively. Those facts aren't in this book. But you learn a lot about rocks a
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Riku Sayuj
I was promised dinosaurs and I got only scientists searching for a buried crater. A word repeated thrice in a book does not its title make.

>The initial 50 pages or so are worth reading. For the rest, go watch some NatGeo doc.
Margie
Walter is such a great storyteller. He does an incredible job of making a complex scientific discovery very accessible to the general public, yet never talks down to the audience. A fine job of combining scientific detail with an interesting story.
Mark
Ok, ok, so I understand that if you bought this book based on this cover art (e.g. the giant Tyrannosaurus Rex) you might be a little pissed off. Whoever was in charge of marketing this volume at Princeton University Press clearly knew that a whole book about the science of geology and specifically the proving of the impact theory to explain the unusually high amounts of iridium in the banded layer of rock known as the "K-T boundary" that separates older Cretaceous period stone from newer Tertia ...more
Kathy  Petersen
Who could resist a title like this? It's an adventure story, perhaps even a bit of a detective tale (well, investigative, anyway), with plenty of scientific detail but not enough to make my eyes glaze over. Excellent for readers like me - absolutely not scientifically oriented but fascinated nonetheless.
Jrobertus
like "lucy" by johansen, this book gives a clear and engaging account of what scientists know of a popular field of study. in this case the meteor that smacked into the yucatan triggering the "kt" species extinction. a good read.
Ben
A nice little book about what we think happened to the dinosaurs and how we came to figure it out. Alvarez does a good job explaining the science without getting too technical.
Henry Houser
Walter Alvarez's purpose in writing T. Rex and the Crater of Doom was to inform. He states his and his colleagues' theories, failed or otherwise, in an attempt to show their thought processes. It is written in an entertaining fashion to be more interesting, but its main purpose is to inform. Alvarez is telling his story of the dinosaurs' extinction.
The theme of this book is simply the theory it is trying to prove. A giant meteor struck the Yucatan Peninsula around 150 million years ago, causing
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Todd Martin
Despite its rather sensationalistic title, ‘T. Rex and the Crater of Doom’ provides a very nice overview of the asteroid impact which caused the extinction of the dinosaurs (and other species) 65 million years ago. It also describes the scientific investigation which led up to the theory’s development and the subsequent search for the impact crater.

The book is written by Walter Alvarez, who along with his father (Nobel prize winning physicist Luis Alvarez) and 2 colleagues, came up with the ast
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Jenee
Usually a book like this would be painful to read like most science related books are. I mean I'm a geology/paleo major but lets face it most science related books are not a fun read. But this book I'm glad to say is very well written, and full of fun factual goodies. It goes through the whole 10 year discovery of the reasons for the K/T extinction. If you are interested in the extinction of the dinosaurs or any of earths extinctions I highly recomend reading this book. It gave me a whole new in ...more
Denise
Fascinating and not too technical account of how Alvarez and a large cast of other scientists came to suspect and then to prove that the extinction of the dinosaurs was caused by the impact of a gigantic meteor onto the Yucatan Peninsula. Fun watching the sausages get made: the wrong hypotheses and experimental mistakes, the collaborations and feuds, accidental discoveries and dogged searches, and how very important relationships between scientists are to sparking that Aha Moment. He is almost c ...more
Thom
Walter Alvarez and his dad came up with the theory and then worked to find the evidence of the impact theory for the K-T mass exinction This book provides a step-by-step through that mystery - from dating fossils and layers, to the excess of iridium, to the discovery and confirmation of the Chicxulub impact site. In case you want to know what it was like for T. Rex, the first chapter provides a blow-by-blow of the object slamming into the earth, melting bedrock and changing the climate in one pu ...more
Margery
I chose this to read because the author is in Margie's department at Cal and I wondered if a laywoman could understand it (or get past the first page). It turned out to be a convincing record of the research done to explain the sudden extinction of dinosaurs globally. Alvarez names EVERY scientist who contributed or was consulted and seemed thrilled by the collegiality that followed. He was also impressed by the cooperation of say, physicists and geologists. I felt that Alvarez really wanted me ...more
Ellee
Walter Alvarez's book is a great discovery story! Well-written for the lay audience, it captures one's attention and takes readers through the many dead ends and ultimately, discoveries, that make up science and the process that scientists go through formulating and testing their ideas.

Highly recommended for all science lovers, dinosaur buffs (if you haven't read it already!), everyone wanting to find out more about the world around us, and of course, anyone who's ever wondered what really happe
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Fred Kohn
The impetus for reading this book came from a backyard barbecue with the former curriculum director of math and science for Upper Arlington (Ohio) Public Schools. The conversation turned to evolution denial and he recommended this book with the caveat that it was directed at young adults. If this is true, the young adults in Upper Arlington must be several cuts above the young adults that I know, because I found the science pretty advanced for a popular science book, regardless of audience. As i ...more
Richard
Nov 12, 2009 Richard marked it as to-read
Recommended to Richard by: Steve Mirsky of Scientific American
Mentioned glowingly by Steve Mirsky, host of Scientific American's Science Talk podcast. See here for the transcript and the MP3 download.

Save yourself, mammal! We will fend off the asteroids!
Jessi Witt
Really good layman's step into the processes of paleontology and the most popular of extinction theories. Unfortunately I don't know enough to comment on the veracity of all of this book's content, but if theories are just to be taken as such, it does a good job laying it all out. The means to reaching those theories and the work that goes into working and discarding and re-figuring what is known is pretty interesting.
Lee
Wow, T.Rex and the Crater of Doom. If you've ever read a book with a more titillating title than that then, well, please tell me what it was because clearly you read more titillatingly titled books than I do. (Although this one is certainly a contender.)

Despite sounding like a 1950s B-movie, T.Rex and the Crater of Doom is a popular science book by one of the scientists who proposed the impact hypothesis. This is the theory that a massive meteor strike wiped out the dinosaurs (and three quarters
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Sofia
More fascinating than the dinossaur extinction event is the story of how it was pieced together by relentless scientists, from almost all scientific fields immaginable and all corners of the world, for over ten years of battle against the dominating paradigm of the time. It is a wonderfull lesson in the scientific process - which, as the author often points out, is very much like detective work.
Abigail Ryder
Interesting read about the search for truth regarding the extinction of the dinosaurs. No previous knowledge of geology is required; this book reads more like a mystery than a science book, and portrays the story of the successful search for evidence to prove that the extinction of the dinosaurs was caused by a sudden meteoritic impact with Earth, rather than gradual climate change.
Ondrej Urban
Oh wow... first of all, thanks, Randall Munroe, for mentioning this in one of the what-if XKCDs! What an - admittedly short - ride. But, aaaah, the excitement!

OK, now coherently. Deep inside, I'm a rather liberal individual with a clear opinion on where the education system can stick it's "required reading" for the literature lessons. All the blasphemy aside - I admit the "classics" are called that for a good reason - why don't we request the students to read N books a year and report on these r
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Billie Mulcahy
This is a great book for anyone interested in how the Cretaceous extinction happened, and how we know. The author, Walter Alvarez, was one of the Alvarez team who developed and then proved that a meteor collided with the earth, killing the dinosaurs and most other organisms as well.
Akrabar
A fascinating read. This book gives a detailed account of what the life of a scientist is like - years of painstaking work with lots of failures and finally (if luck) culminating in a success. Very accessible to lay readers and presented like a detective solving a murder mystery.
Descatalogado
Jun 10, 2014 Descatalogado rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Descatalogado by: Randall Munroe
Cuando Randall Munroe me recomienda un libro, yo le hago caso. Y más si tiene un título como éste...

El primer capítulo describe el último día de los dinosaurios en la Tierra, provocado por el impacto de un meteoríto de 10 km de diámetro sobre la península de Yucatán. 10 km de diámetro es un peñasco más alto que el Everest. Imagina un Everest cayendo de los cielos a 30 metros por segundo, y piensa en la devastación que causa. Pues te has quedado corto: la verdad es acojonante.

El resto del libro t
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Bob
Today it is well accepted that a giant meteor killed the dinosaurs. This is a recent finding, based on highly detailed analysis by some incredibly patient researchers. Iridium turned out to be a key, because it was found in concentrations (if you can use that term -- the amounts were in the ppm ranges) that were several times higher than would have been expected.

The paleontologist community was a big part of the investigation, and they live in a world I could never enter. Quiet, quiet, quiet. I'
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Rachel Knickmeyer
This was an interesting look into the decades long scientific process into determining just what killed the dinosaurs. I enjoyed learning more of the details about the comet's (or maybe asteroid) effects on earth's deeply complex geology, a subject I'm not all that familiar with. Science is hard and full of misleading evidence and even a bit of infighting. I would have liked to hear a little more about the personalities involved in this process. There are hints of interesting conflicts that are ...more
Gerardo Martínez

Dinófilos, este no es un libro para ustedes. En primer lugar no habla de los dinosaurios (y menos del tiranosaurio rex), sino del impacto de un asteroide en Chicxulub, península de Yucatán que causó su extinción.
Además, los muy fijados encontraran la portada del libro chocante por dos razones, primero no pone un T. Rex, sino un Tetanuro y, en segundo, porque no pone una imagen del impacto del meteorito, sino de un volcán.
Esto de principio me causó una mala impresión del libro. Pero en realidad
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Morgan
I read this book for a college geology class. The first thing you should be aware of is that this is a book about science and people. I found it very interesting considering the subject material. The author infuses his passion for the subject in his writing. But I loved the relationships between all of these scientists. It's very rare that I am not bored by something like this, and it's worth a read if you have the time and interest.
Craig Vermeer
I don't really know anything about the field, but I still feel I can safely say that this is the most approachable and well-written Geology book ever written. There was a time near the beginning of the book when it was mainly describing what was going on when the asteroid or comet hit the Earth that I thought my nine-year-old son would enjoy it. Once it descended into hardcore Geology nerdery, though, I changed my mind.

Still -- this was Geology nerdery that was fun, engaging, and interesting to
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Brian
Alvarez makes the geology accessible and even exciting. I remember first reading about the impact theory as a kid around the time when it would have been gaining acceptance. The earlier books, which would have been published in the mid- and late-eighties, were either dismissive or skeptical. As I got older, that shifted to reporting the theory as fact. Interesting to think about how then-current science was being filtered down to dinosaur-obsessed kids.
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