A lake in Tanzania is colored deep rose by algae and flocks of flamingos; above it float clouds as white and fluffy as popcorn. A few pages further on, the snow-dusted Himalayas are crumpled like a white cotton sheet. From space, the earth is startlingly beautiful. It’s also like a gigantic banner, displaying the geological shifts, collisions, and eruptions that continue to shape the planet. Volcanoes sink and streams carve their way through deserts; golden clouds of pollution tell their own story.
Seeing Earth From Space, an extraordinary book of photographs taken from space, is mind-expanding: You can feel bracing gusts of surprise and insight blow through your consciousness. From out there, for example, you can contemplate the thin, brilliant layer of red, white, and blue that is the earth’s atmosphere — a fragile streak of color against the vast empty blackness of space.
Patricia Lauber, formerly an editor in chief of Science World, a magazine aimed at junior high school students, has written a clear, informative text that explains how astronauts and scientists use both these ”ordinary” and infrared photos — which here look like vigorous abstract paintings — to predict weather, pinpoint healthy crops, peer through the earth’s crust, and map the ocean floors. In this book, sober scientific information seems as dazzling as a magic show.
The author’s sensitive handling of environmental issues is admirable. She pulls no punches, and her forthright prose as well as the thrilling majesty of the photographs leaves you feeling exhilarated, as though the science that can do this can also heal the planet. A+