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Supercontinent: Ten Billion Years in the…

Supercontinent: Ten Billion Years in the Life of Our Planet

by Ted Nield

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This is a fascinating account of the history of our planet and in particular how continental drift has led to the formation and break up of continents over the lifetime of our planet and how this will continue into the future. It also tells of the history of the geological discoveries that have led to the state of the science of geophysics at the present time, with some colourful and interesting 19th and early 20th century characters along the way, working during the time when the modern science was taking shape and the evidence for the Earth's genuine age was becoming ever firmer. Although in places the chemical and biochemical details got somewhat too technical for me as a lay reader, this was a very good read and the names and shadowy nature of Ur, Rodinia and Pangaea will resonate with me in the future. ( )
  john257hopper | Jun 4, 2014 |
I really enjoyed the mix of history of science and science.

There are also flashes of a soaring, poetic and moving sense of perspective.

I already know that I find geology fascinating, perhaps if you don't you won't enjoy this as much as I did. ( )
  psiloiordinary | Jan 19, 2013 |
A fascinating, and very readable history of our planet before humanity. An interesting mix of details about how we perceived
the history of our planet, and the personalities of the people who discovered the various truths of its history. ( )
  puttocklibrary | Nov 26, 2012 |
Mr. Nield has offered up a fine book on what amounts to the history of Continental Drift, both as an idea and as a science. Things get a bit tricky here and there, but it is accessible to the interested layman. He explains the obstacles Alfred Wegener and a few others encountered as they tried to gain acceptance for their ideas of drift, which had a plethora of circumstantial evidence but no mechanism for movement (Convection currents in the mantle and still a debated argument between pushing along by oceanic rift spreading or pulling down by subduction at the opposite edges). There were contiguous rock layers and mountains broken off on either side of oceans, with fossils that matched as well, not to mention the fairly obvious fit of some of the continents, like Africa and South America, which had first been noticed, in print anyways, by Francis Bacon in the 1600's. He goes on to delve into the complex history of the continents merging together and splitting apart several times over literally a few billion years, how the basic chemistry of the Earth has changed over that span, and so on. I liked it, and it has the simplicity for a casual reader, with the level of detail that a college geology student can still use it for basic research. ( )
  DirtPriest | Aug 12, 2011 |
Showing 4 of 4
As a geologist turned science journalist, editor and provocative blogger, Ted Nield has a complex view of life and science. His skills as a writer successfully convey in Supercontinent the recent exciting work in grand-scale geoscience to a wide scientific audience.
added by jlelliott | editNature, Ted Nield (pay site) (Oct 4, 2007)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0674026594, Hardcover)

To understand continental drift and plate tectonics, the shifting and collisions that make and unmake continents, requires a long view. The Earth, after all, is 4.6 billion years old. This book extends our vision to take in the greatest geological cycle of all—one so vast that our species will probably be extinct long before the current one ends in about 250 million years. And yet this cycle, the grandest pattern in Nature, may well be the fundamental reason our species—or any complex life at all—exists.

This book explores the Supercontinent Cycle from scientists' earliest inkling of the phenomenon to the geological discoveries of today—and from the most recent fusing of all of Earth's landmasses, Pangaea, on which dinosaurs evolved, to the next. Chronicling a 500-million-year cycle, Ted Nield introduces readers to some of the most exciting science of our time. He describes how, long before plate tectonics were understood, geologists first guessed at these vanishing landmasses and came to appreciate the significance of the fusing and fragmenting of supercontinents.

He also uses the story of the supercontinents to consider how scientific ideas develop, and how they sometimes escape the confines of science. Nield takes the example of the recent Indian Ocean tsunami to explain how the whole endeavor of science is itself a supercontinent, whose usefulness in saving human lives, and life on Earth, depends crucially on a freedom to explore the unknown.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:02 -0400)

This book explores the Supercontinent Cycle from scientists'' earliest inkling of the phenomenon to the geological discoveries of today -- and from the most recent fusing of all of Earth's landmasses, Pangaea, on which dinosaurs evolved, to the next.

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