Stepping stones: the making of our home world
Oxford University Press
, Sep 23, 1999
- 409 pages
The Earth has been evolving for the past five billion years, the result of the dynamic interplay of astronomical, physical, and chemical forces that range from the vast to the barely perceptible. Now, in Stepping Stones, Stephen Drury illuminates the processes that have formed the Earth, creating the atmosphere, the oceans, the continents, and life itself.
Looking at the astonishing leaps and near catastrophes that have occurred along the way--intermingled with inexorable but slow change--the book interweaves the evidence from geology, physics, biology, and chemistry, to tell an extraordinary story . We discover how the Earth works--the interaction of geothermal and solar energy, the role of the atmosphere, and the impact of tides and rotation. We learn how matter originated in processes in the stars and how it is assembled in planetary systems, and we discover how the Earth came to have a Moon through a giant collision--and its consequences for the evolution of Earth and life. Drury discusses the origin of atmosphere and water by volcanic activity, the paradox of the cold young Sun and the essential role of carbon dioxide in avoiding an ice-bound planet, and he evaluates theories for the origin of life in light of the chemistry of the early Earth. He describes the supercontinents Rodinia and Gondwanaland, the icehouse and greenhouse worlds of the last billion years, the Cambrian explosion of life forms, and finally human origins and evolution.
An original and stimulating account of the history of our home planet, Stepping Stones does for the Earth what Carl Sagan did for the cosmos--it offers general readers an illuminating tour of a fascinating and little-known area of science.