From the ice of the Earth to the ice of the universe - Erga Edizioni

From the ice of the Earth to the ice of the universe - Erga Edizioni

Book review

From the ice of the Earth to the ice of the universe

by Claudio Smiraglia, Ignazio Ezio Tabacco, Mario Di Martino, Simonetta Di Pippo, Cesare Guaita


: From the ice of the Earth to the ice of the universe


: by Claudio Smiraglia, Ignazio Ezio Tabacco, Mario Di Martino, Simonetta Di Pippo, Cesare Guaita


: Erga Edizioni


: Quaderni dei WednesdayScienza of the friends of the aquarium of Genoa

Publication date

: October 2007

Number of pages



: 12.00 euros

Type of paper used

: the book is printed on eco-friendly freelife paper


: 40 pages of photos and / or illustrations at the end of the book

"From the ice of the Earth to the ice of the universe" is a book in the series Quadernidei Wednesday Science of the friends of the aquarium of Genoa by the publishing house Erga, which groups together the interventions held by various speakers during meetings held at the Genoa aquarium.

As the title says, the book talks about ice, terrestrial and planetary to find analogies but above all to find life beyond the earth.

In the first chapter: "Glaciers, the cold casket of the Earth" the author shows us the devastating picture of the situation of terrestrial glaciers, highlighting the fact that "the formation, survival and extinction of a glacier depend on a delicate balance between what is accumulated upstream and what is lost downstream ». We talk about large and small glaciers and the trends of global glacialism, the great problems of balance, placing particular emphasis on Italy for which he affirms: "in a few decades the small glaciers located below 3500m will be extinguished while the large glaciers located on the highest mountains (...) will lose their valley tongues and turn into circus glaciers "all this at a more general level will lead to" the Alps as the current Apennines ... awaiting the next inevitable glaciation ".

The second chapter: "The subglacial lakes of Antarctica" is an interesting story about how they were identified under the arctic ice, of the lakes and the chapter is precisely the story of their discovery because as the author jokingly says: "As in every story that respect yourself, the first thing to present is the scenario in which it takes place ». Therefore the story tells of how, starting from the first decades of the 19th century, the Antarctic continent was discovered, in the struggles for territorial claims by part of the different nations, to arrive at the Antarctic Treaty. It is interesting to know the story of how scholars have come to the conclusion that under the surface of the Antarctic there are so-called "possible" lakes (because physically not yet seen) thanks to a whole series of surveys and fairly early deductions starting from the first lake " possible "that is the lake of Vostok, to reach numerous others, always hypothesized, whose exploration will still require some time as we do not yet have the suitable technology. In any case, I hope that the author (the "fake pensioner" as he defines himself in his biography) will be able to tell us, very soon and with the same passion, the developments of this "compelling story".

Then we touch on another topic, relative to the ice, but this time "The ice of the solar system". The author, I must say in simple and understandable language even for non "experts", illustrates if and how ice is present in all known parts of our universe ". Taking into consideration both" water ice "and other types of ice, composed of substances such as methane and ammonia. The author starts from the theories on the formation of the Solar System to gradually analyze the results of the various probes launched towards planets and / or satellites for exploration. We then move on to analyze Mercury, the Moon, Mars , Jupiter and its moons, Saturn and its moons, Pluto and the icy giants beyond Neptune and finally the comets, the Ooort cloud and the Edgeworth-Kuiper Belt. of astronomy "I had a lot of fun reading this chapter and it positively captured my attention especially for the author's passion that is palpable throughout the writing.

The fourth chapter: "Space missions in search of water in the Solar System" illustrates in a precise way, compatibly with the public to which it is addressed, the various missions carried out for the study of planetary bodies, in search of water, focusing on particularly on Mars and describing the "peaceful invasions" of the dozens of probes found in orbit or on the surface of the red planet. He then moves on to studies for the search for the "protoplasmic cloud from which everything originated" and then to the study of comets, given that some of them keep "their primordial characteristics, our origins intact". We are therefore talking about Saturn, Jupiter and to conclude future space missions in search of water because "water and life, therefore, the two words that will accompany the search for our past but also for our future". Very interesting.

The last chapter: "In search of life on the ice worlds" which can be summarized as "it is not impossible to postulate the formation of elementary forms of life even in the coldest environments of the Solar System" is a very intriguing examination of how, in the planets and in some satellites besides ice being present (and this is a certainty), life could also be present (as we know it) or at least, it was present. The analysis made by the author is very detailed and rich in scientific information which in any case are easily accessible also by the profesor.

In short, it is a book that I liked, which required a good attention in reading in some parts given the complexity of the subject matter, but easily understandable and certainly a good tool for those who want to deepen the subject as it provides an incredible amount of ideas for a large-scale studio.

The more than 40 pages of photos are very beautiful and help not a little to understand the different treated themes.

Dr. M. G. Davoli

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