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Out Of Gas Hardcover – Jan 27 2004

3.3 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 128 pages
  • Publisher: W W Norton; 1 edition (Jan. 27 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393058573
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393058574
  • Product Dimensions: 21.5 x 14.8 x 1.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 363 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,615,222 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Everyone agrees we will run out of fossil fuels someday-Goodstein, a Caltech professor, argues it will be sooner rather than later based on the petrochemical data available. In this alarming little book, portions of which were originally published in a bioethics journal, Goodstein explains with limited jargon that we will completely exhaust oil supplies within 10 years. He warns that we have reached, or even surpassed Hubbert's Peak, the moment when we have consumed half of all oil known to exist and will likely use the rest up even faster, due to ever-increasing demand and decreasing discoveries. What will we do when all the oil is gone? Goodstein outlines two scenarios, both chilling. In the worst case, we might run out of oil so fast that the only affordable alternative is coal. In this throwback future, Goodstein writes, "the greenhouse effect that results eventually tips Earth's climate into a new state hostile to life." The best case scenario involves a methane-based fuel economy that would bridge the gap until we could build up nuclear and solar power sources to meet our long-term needs. Goodstein admits that some geologists disagree that we will deplete all oil sources within this decade, but even conservative calculations predict the price of oil will increase beyond the reach of most people within the foreseeable future. "No matter what else happens," Goodstein states, "this is the century in which we must learn to live without fossil fuels." He maintains a cautious optimism about alternative energy sources, but readers may find little comfort imagining nuclear fission energy as the next best thing.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

In this pithy primer on what might replace oil as civilization's fuel, a Caltech professor explains the fundamentals of energy, engines, and entropy for a mass audience. Goodstein opens with a quote from a geologist who predicted in the 1950s, to derision, that U.S. oil reserves would inevitably be depleted. Applying this reasoning to global reserves, Goodstein warns not only that the last drop will be pumped by 2100 at the latest, but also that peak production, estimated to occur in the current decade, marks the beginning of a global shortage. So, start planning postpetroleum technology now, exhorts the author. With exceptional conciseness, he presents the constraints nature will impose on any fuel-technology combination, beginning with explanations of exploitable sources of energy, continuing with how chemical and nuclear bonds hold and release energy, and arriving at how any engine, in principle, converts energy to work. Looking at fuels such as methane or hydrogen, Goodstein sees not panaceas but, rather, life support until a future arrives that lives on sunlight and nuclear fusion. Gilbert Taylor
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This short venture into the issue of Peak Oil by a distinguished physicist is a nice introduction to the important concepts in energy physics for the science-oriented high-school sophomore or for the college freshman liberal-arts student. Moreover, if Joe Voter simply skips Chapters 3 and 4 (where Goodstein presents a rather boring basis for the difference between conservation of energy and utilization of fuels), it becomes a brief, informative, and interesting introduction to the problems of our looming energy crisis for the average citizen.
While the general physics presented is at least 99% correct and the energy-related data and projections are also generally sound, the book is not without technical problems. First of all, Goodstein completely dismisses, without justification, all biofuels as having negative value. He is clearly unaware that the most recent USDA studies show grain ethanol to permit energy balance up to 1.77, cellulosic ethanol well above 2.2, and other advanced biofuel options ultimately above 3. Surprisingly, his view of wind energy is only slightly less pessimistic than his view of biofuels.
The other major problems center around the nuclear issue. He seems to believe the global uranium reserves are sufficient to supply all the world's energy for up to 25 years. Quite to the contrary, the IAEA indicates the total global uranium reserves (5 million tones) of usable quality are sufficient to sustain only existing nuclear power plants (which furnish less than 20% of the world's electricity), with a 2% annual growth rate, only through 2040. Others believe the usable uranium resources are 30% smaller, and processing the low-grade reserves (hard ores with U content below 0.02%) would be too expensive and result in too much CO2 release.
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Format: Hardcover
Hi, I am Jim Wortham, and I am very pleased to read and comment on David Goodstein's new book, "Out of Gas." High oil prices have been an ongoing problem since the late 1970's. Professor David Goodstein, on page 32, addresses the fact that ethanol alcohol can be used as automotive fuel. At the time period around 1978 to 1980, the government gave money in the form of grants to farmers to produce ethanol alcohol. That is the type of alcohol that can be fermented and distilled by using grain (such as corn) or other organic material. In fact the government then and still does provides a permit (I think it is now a free permit) to legally distill ethanol alcohol as long as an individual completes a short application, and commits to using it to experiment with running engines including cars, tractors, motorcycles, lawnmowers, with the fuel (rather than drinking it). I am the author of the book (Forget The Gas Pumps--Make Your Own Fuel) and I believe it is one of the books still in print written on the subject of converting a car to run on 90 to 100 percent alcohol. It was published in 1979 at the price of $3.95 (it is still selling at the same price on This book sells as an autographed copy (to anyone you want it autographed to) for just $1.50 on Amazon Marketplace , where you are reading this. I explain how to legally distill alcohol for automotive fuel & how to get a permit (I believe it is now free to get this permit--I include with the book where to get this permit to legally distill alcohol for fuel. I tell in my book how to make minor adjustments to a car so you will never need to use gasoline again. I had converted a 1969 Dodge Dart to run on alcohol at that time.Read more ›
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By A Customer on April 29 2004
Format: Hardcover
Dr. David Goodstein, professor at Caltech, begins this book with aplomb, paraphrasing a key piece of research completed by M. King Hubbert in the 1950s regarding the future supply of crude oil. Unfortunately, he sidetracks the reader into other alternative fuel sources -- and the physics and thermodynamics of each -- to the detriment of providing the real "meat" (research and new data) to the Hubbert's Peak premise that underpins the thesis for the book. Goodstein eventually reveals enough personal bias that it becomes apparent that his political leanings filter an initially objective discussion, and unnecessarilyy detract from otherwise relevant discussion which is, at times, very well constructed.
Out of Gas left me disappointed and unfulfilled from the viewpoint of supporting data. Clearly, the author possesses a mastery of thermodynamics and mechanics that one expects from a person in his position. However, this book expended an inordinate amount of energy (entropy, using the author's parlance) discussing the merits of nuclear fission, heat engines and the like but left me wanting for better insight into alternative solutions for the impending shortagee of petrochemical feedstock (crude oil), the most important use of the raw material. While I appreciated a review of my college physics, I found it difficult to remain focused on his topic and instead my mind wandered, wondering where the discussion was leading.
Lest readers believe I missed the point, Goodstein makes it abundantly clear that we are inexorably headed down the road to shortages of a critical global raw material (crude oil). Sooner than we believe.
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