Friday, July 28, 2017

Robert Hazen - The Story Of Earth (Penguin, 2012) ****

This is nothing less than amazing. Mineralogist Robert Hazen explains the painstaking effort of collecting rocks and minerals, and then painstakingly analysing them all under a mass spectrometer and then cataloguing them and organising them and thinking about what it all might mean. Thousands and thousands of pieces of rock from all over the world. What you can do with it sounds simple, to reconstruct the history of the earth, the full 4.5 billion years it exists. You get a wonderful chronological journey from day one till now and with some wise words for the future to conclude.

Everything that ever happened on our planet of any significance is captured in the minerals around us: the chemical properties of basic elements, the level of oxygen in the air, the eruptions, the collisions, the moving of the continents, the arrival of life, the state of the atmosphere, the change in the magnetic field of the earth, the brutal differences in temperature, etc, etc.

It is nothing but spectacular, and sure the object itself is incredible, but how Hazen writes with passion about his field of study is equallly amazing, with the right level of explanation to make it understable for non-geologists but I guess that specialists will also find it rewarding to read about their subject in layman's language.


... and then you wonder about the morons who think the earth is 6,000 years old. How is it possible that major scientific work never reaches the masses?

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