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Life on Earth arose nearly 4 billion years ago, bursting forth from air, water, and rock. Though the process obeyed all the rules of chemistry and physics, the details of that original event pose as deep a mystery as any facing science. How did non-living chemicals become alive? While the question is (deceivingly) simple, the answers are unquestionably complex. Science inevitably plays a key role in any discussion of life's origins, dealing less with the question of why life appeared on Earth than with where, when, and how it emerged on the blasted, barren face of our primitive planet. Astrobiologist Robert Hazen has spent many years dealing with the fundamental questions of life's genesis. As an active research scientist, he is down deep in all the messy details that science has to offer on the subject, tracing the inexorable sequence of events that led to the complicated interactions of carbonbased molecules. As he takes us through the astounding process of emergence, we are witness to the first tentative steps toward life--from the unfathomable abundance of carbon biomolecules synthesized in the black vacuum of space to the surface of the Earth to deep within our planet's restless crust. We are privy to the breathtaking drama that rapidly unfolds as life prevails. The theory of emergence is poised to answer a multitude of questions--even as it raises the possibility that natural processes exist beyond what we now know, perhaps beyond what we even comprehend. Genesis tells the tale of transforming scientific advances in our quest for life's origins. Written with grace, beauty, and authority, it goes directly to the heart of who we are and why we are here.
Knowledge of the basic ideas and principles of science is fundamental to cultural literacy. But most books on science are often too obscure or too specialized to do the general reader much good.Science Matters is a rare exception-a science book for the general reader that is informative enough to be a popular textbook for introductory courses in high school and college, and yet well-written enough to appeal to general readers uncomfortable with scientific jargon and complicated mathematics. And now, revised and expanded for the first time in nearly two decades, it is up-to-date, so that readers can enjoy Hazen and Trefil's refreshingly accessible explanations of the most recent developments in science, from particle physics to biotechnology.From the Trade Paperback edition.
Over 100,000 readers have relied on Trefil to gain a better understanding of physics, chemistry, astronomy, earth sciences, and biology. The book focuses on the great ideas in each field while showing readers how core scientific principles connect to their daily lives. The sixth edition emphasizes important themes and relationships, along with new real world connections. Scientific American has been added to the book along with completely updated examples. The presentation also employs a more visual approach that includes new illustrations and visuals. In addition, new problems help readers answer the big questions in science.
Earth evolves. From first atom to molecule, mineral to magma, granite crust to single cell to verdant living landscape, ours is a planet constantly in flux. In this radical new approach to Earth's biography, senior Carnegie Institution researcher and national bestselling author Robert M. Hazen reveals how the co-evolution of the geosphere and biosphere--of rocks and living matter--has shaped our planet into the only one of its kind in the Solar System, if not the entire cosmos. With an astrobiologist's imagination, a historian's perspective, and a naturalist's passion for the ground beneath our feet, Hazen explains how changes on an atomic level translate into dramatic shifts in Earth's makeup over its 4. 567 billion year existence. He calls upon a flurry of recent discoveries to portray our planet's many iterations in vivid detail--from its fast-rotating infancy when the Sun rose every five hours and the Moon filled 250 times more sky than it does now, to its sea-bathed youth before the first continents arose; from the Great Oxidation Event that turned the land red, to the globe-altering volcanism that may have been the true killer of the dinosaurs. Through Hazen's theory of "co-evolution," we learn how reactions between organic molecules and rock crystals may have generated Earth's first organisms, which in turn are responsible for more than two-thirds of the mineral varieties on the planet--thousands of different kinds of crystals that could not exist in a nonliving world. The Story of Earth is also the story of the pioneering men and women behind the sciences. Readers will meet black-market meteorite hawkers of the Sahara Desert, the gun-toting Feds who guarded the Apollo missions' lunar dust, and the World War II Navy officer whose super-pressurized "bomb"--recycled from military hardware--first simulated the molten rock of Earth's mantle. As a mentor to a new generation of scientists, Hazen introduces the intrepid young explorers whose dispatches from Earth's harshest landscapes will revolutionize geology. Celebrated by the New York Times for writing "with wonderful clarity about science . . . that effortlessly teaches as it zips along," Hazen proves a brilliant and entertaining guide on this grand tour of our planet inside and out. Lucid, controversial, and intellectually bracing, The Story of Earth is popular science of the highest order. .