Sunday, May 5, 2013
Book Review: The Story of Earth: The First 4.5 Billion Years, from Stardust to Living Planet
This is an excellent book, by a geologist (Robert M. Hazen) describing how the Earth has changed over time. And by Earth, he means earth, the stuff under your feet, and views the ecosystem as an extension of its dirt foundation. This book gives an invaluable perspective on the evolution of rocks, and organizes its chapters in a chronological color scheme: black, blue, gray, red, white and green earth. Hazen hits the sweet spot in his description of the field's development and controversies. I had no problem following his descriptions as someone outside the field. He'll describe an experiment or two, down to the apparatus, once or twice a chapter, but in simple and vivid language that I hope to emulate. Finally, Hazen himself has contributed several important ideas to the field, including mineral co-evolution, that it's not just that minerals shape organisms, but also that organisms shape minerals. This is a fascinating and solid idea, and my only comment is that I wish Hazen brought it out more. You don't usually end up wishing an author talked about his idea more, but here you do.
As a window into an under-described branch of science, I highly recommend this book.