The Planet in a Pebble: Thirteen Journeys into Earth's Deep History
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The Planet in a Pebble: Thirteen Journeys into Earth's Deep History

by Jan Zalasiewicz
     
 

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This is the story of a single pebble, whose history carries us into abyssal depths of time, and across the farthest reaches of space. Indeed, starting from this tiny, common speck, Jan Zalasiewicz offers readers a stimulating tour that begins with the Universe's dramatic birth in the unimaginable violence of the Big Bang and explores the construction of the Solar…  See more details below

Overview


This is the story of a single pebble, whose history carries us into abyssal depths of time, and across the farthest reaches of space. Indeed, starting from this tiny, common speck, Jan Zalasiewicz offers readers a stimulating tour that begins with the Universe's dramatic birth in the unimaginable violence of the Big Bang and explores the construction of the Solar System and the origins of our own planet. Zalasiewicz shows the almost incredible complexity present in the apparently mundane pebble, starting with the astonishing number of atoms in each. We learn that many events in the Earth's ancient past can be deciphered from a pebble: volcanic eruptions; the lives and deaths of extinct animals and plants; the alien nature of long-vanished oceans; and even the creations of fool's gold and oil deep underground. Zalasiewicz also demonstrates how geologists reach deep into the Earth's past by forensic analysis of even the tiniest amounts of mineral matter. The pebble may be small, and ordinary, but it is also an eloquent part of our Earth's extraordinary, never-ending story.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Zalasiewicz, a Lecturer in Geology at the University of Leicester, uses the pebble as his muse, traveling backwards in time to explain how it came into existence. As Zelasiewicz writes, "In some ways the pebble is like one of the newer computer chips, tightly packed with more information than one could ever surmise from gazing on its smooth surface." The pebble's journey into existence is fascinating, but the real magic trick here is how immensely readable Zalasiewicz's book is. It's packed with scientific fact, down to the atomic structure of the elements found in the pebble, but still comprehensible to the layman. Zalasiewicz also deploys his dry sense of humor, noting, for example, that "the underground realm is pervasively fluid-soaked... regrettably dinosaur-free" (no matter what science fiction may claim). No one who reads this book will ever kick a pebble down the road or pocket one from the beach in the same careless way ever again. Photos. (Dec.)
From the Publisher

"The whole book is as much contemplative and poetic as it is scientific." --Wired Magazine, GeekDad

"Refreshing and unintimidating labor of love from a field-experienced scientist - a work that could even capture the imaginations of some uninitiated students." --The Washington Times

"Does it work as a popular science book? The answer is a remarkable and resounding yes...The great strength of the book is in the writing, which is at times beautiful, always engaging, and well-paced. There is no sense that the book ever stalls - so often a problem in popular science writing - and the author manages to express his own love and fascination for the discipline." --The Landslide Blog, a blog of the American Geophysical Union

"Impressively skilful narrative...Geology has a gifted new popular science writer." --New Scientist

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780199569700
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date:
11/05/2010
Pages:
256
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.70(h) x 1.00(d)

Meet the Author

Jan Zalasiewicz is a Lecturer in Geology at the University of Leicester, before that working at the British Geological Survey.

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