By Charles H. Langmuir and Wally Broecker
Princeton University Press, $39.95, 718 pages
How do you build a planet capable of supporting life? In this revised and greatly expanded second edition of How to Build a Habitable Planet, the authors answer this question using a step-by-step guide. Starting from the beginning of the universe and moving to the birth of our solar system and the emergence of humankind, each chapter builds on the previous one. The first edition was published in 1985 and since then we have learned much more about our planet and the universe around us.
Reading this work is a great experience because it brings together everything one needs to know about the birth of our planet into one volume. The authors cover all the major topics and keep this book readable for the educated reader, but you do not need to be a scientist to understand it. People who want to know more about how planets, stars, and solar systems form should read this book. The writing is precise and easy to read, with many pictures, graphs, and charts to help the reader. This reviewer hopes that it will not take 25 years for the next edition.
Reviewed by Kevin Winter