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The author of the best-selling Science Matters outlines a radical new approach to geologic history that advances controversial theories that the Earth evolved and that life evolved from minerals, assessing supportive findings while explaining the impact of human actions.
Hailed by The New York Times for writing “with wonderful clarity about science . . . that effortlessly teaches as it zips along,” nationally bestselling author Robert M. Hazen offers a radical new approach to Earth history in this intertwined tale of the planet’s living and nonliving spheres. With an astrobiologist’s imagination, a historian’s perspective, and a naturalist’s eye, Hazen calls upon twenty-first-century discoveries that have revolutionized geology and enabled scientists to envision Earth’s many iterations in vivid detail—from the mile-high lava tides of its infancy to the early organisms responsible for more than two-thirds of the mineral varieties beneath our feet. Lucid, controversial, and on the cutting edge of its field, The Story of Earth is popular science of the highest order. "A sweeping rip-roaring yarn of immense scope, from the birth of the elements in the stars to meditations on the future habitability of our world." -Science "A fascinating story." -Bill McKibben
The author of the best-selling Science Matters outlines a radical new approach to geologic history that advances controversial theories that the Earth evolved and that life evolved from minerals, assessing supportive findings while explaining the impact of human actions.
By one of Britain's most gifted scientists: a magnificently daring and compulsively readable account of life on Earth (from the "big bang" to the advent of man), based entirely on the most original of all sources--the evidence of fossils. With excitement and driving intelligence, Richard Fortey guides us from the barren globe spinning in space, through the very earliest signs of life in the sulphurous hot springs and volcanic vents of the young planet, the appearance of cells, the slow creation of an atmosphere and the evolution of myriad forms of plants and animals that could then be sustained, including the magnificent era of the dinosaurs, and on to the last moment before the debut of Homo sapiens. Ranging across multiple scientific disciplines, explicating in wonderfully clear and refreshing prose their findings and arguments--about the origins of life, the causes of species extinctions and the first appearance of man--Fortey weaves this history out of the most delicate traceries left in rock, stone and earth. He also explains how, on each aspect of nature and life, scientists have reached the understanding we have today, who made the key discoveries, who their opponents were and why certain ideas won. Brimful of wit, fascinating personal experience and high scholarship, this book may well be our best introduction yet to the complex history of life on Earth. A Book-of-the-Month Club Main Selection With 32 pages of photographs From the Hardcover edition.
Australopithecines, dinosaurs, trilobites--such fossils conjure up images of lost worlds filled with vanished organisms. But in the full history of life, ancient animals, even the trilobites, form only the half-billion-year tip of a nearly four-billion-year iceberg. Andrew Knoll explores the deep history of life from its origins on a young planet to the incredible Cambrian explosion, presenting a compelling new explanation for the emergence of biological novelty. The very latest discoveries in paleontology--many of them made by the author and his students--are integrated with emerging insights from molecular biology and earth system science to forge a broad understanding of how the biological diversity that surrounds us came to be. Moving from Siberia to Namibia to the Bahamas, Knoll shows how life and environment have evolved together through Earth's history. Innovations in biology have helped shape our air and oceans, and, just as surely, environmental change has influenced the course of evolution, repeatedly closing off opportunities for some species while opening avenues for others. Readers go into the field to confront fossils, enter the lab to discern the inner workings of cells, and alight on Mars to ask how our terrestrial experience can guide exploration for life beyond our planet. Along the way, Knoll brings us up-to-date on some of science's hottest questions, from the oldest fossils and claims of life beyond the Earth to the hypothesis of global glaciation and Knoll's own unifying concept of ''permissive ecology.'' In laying bare Earth's deepest biological roots, Life on a Young Planet helps us understand our own place in the universe--and our responsibility as stewards of a world four billion years in the making. In a new preface, Knoll describes how the field has broadened and deepened in the decade since the book's original publication.
Climate change is a major topic of concern today, scientifically, socially, and politically. It will undoubtedly continue to be so for the foreseeable future, as predicted changes in global temperatures, rainfall, and sea level take place, and as human society adapts to these changes. In this remarkable new work, Jan Zalasiewicz and Mark Williams demonstrate how the Earth's climate has continuously altered over its 4.5 billion-year history. The story can be read from clues preserved in the Earth's strata - the evidence is abundant, though always incomplete, and also often baffling, puzzling, infuriating, tantalizing, seemingly contradictory. Geologists, though, are becoming ever more ingenious at interrogating this evidence, and the story of the Earth's climate is now being reconstructed in ever-greater detail - maybe even providing us with clues to the future of contemporary climate change. The history is dramatic and often abrupt. Changes in global and regional climate range from bitterly cold to sweltering hot, from arid to humid, and they have impacted hugely upon the planet's evolving animal and plant communities, and upon its physical landscapes of the Earth. And yet, through all of this, the Earth has remained consistently habitable for life for over three billion years - in stark contrast to its planetary neighbours. Not too hot, not too cold; not too dry, not too wet, it is aptly known as 'the Goldilocks planet'.
From one of our finest and most popular science writers, the best-selling author of Your Inner Fish, comes the answer to a scientific mystery story as big as the world itself: How have astronomical events that took place millions of years ago created the unique qualities of the human species? In his last book, Neil Shubin delved into the amazing connections between human anatomy—our hands, our jaws—and the structures in the fish that first took over land 375 million years ago. Now, with his trademark clarity and exuberance, he takes an even more expansive approach to the question of why we are the way we are. Starting once again with fossils, Shubin turns his gaze skyward. He shows how the entirety of the universe's 14-billion-year history can be seen in our bodies. From our very molecular composition (a result of stellar events at the origin of our solar system), he makes clear, through the working of our eyes, how the evolution of the cosmos has had profound effects on the development of human life on earth. From the Hardcover edition.

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