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Earth: An Intimate History (2004)

av Richard Fortey

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
9261117,783 (3.81)51
From the acclaimed author of Life and Trilobite!, a fascinating geological exploration of the earth's distant history as revealed by its natural wonders. The face of the earth, crisscrossed by chains of mountains like the scars of old wounds, has changed and changed again over billions of years, and the testament of the remote past is all around us. In this book Richard Fortey teaches us how to read its character, laying out the dominions of the world before us. He shows how human culture and natural history-even the shape of cities-are rooted in this deep geological past. In search of this past, Fortey takes us through the Alps, into Icelandic hot springs, down to the ocean floor, over the barren rocks of Newfoundland, into the lush ecosystems of Hawai'i, across the salt flats of Oman, and along the San Andreas Fault. On the slopes of Vesuvius, he tracks the history of the region down through the centuries to volcanic eruptions seen by fifteenth-century Italians, the Romans, and, from striking geological evidence, even Neolithic man. As story adds to story, the recent past connects with forgotten ages long ago, then much longer ago, as he describes the movement of plates and the development of ancient continents and seas. Nothing in this book is at rest. The surface of the earth dilates and collapses; seas and mountains rise and fall; continents move. Fortey again proves himself the ideal guide, with his superb descriptions of natural beauty, his gripping narratives, and his crystal-clear, always fascinating scientific explanations. Here is a book to change the way we see the world.… (mer)
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Visa 1-5 av 11 (nästa | visa alla)
Quite a climb! 500 pages of stuff I don't know. Very clear and human account including subtle displays of his literary savvy and personal anecdotes. but the terminology is a challenge for a beginner. Things I've heard of but only have a vague idea about, like gneiss or shale; others completely new to me like
beryllium or olivine. Anecdotes include both his own experiences and tales of the discoveries and disputes between the great geologists; these open the window quite a bit. The literary touches include lots of phrases that echo or subtly quote the greats of English lit (" the whirligig of deep time", "the heart of darkness of the ancient continent", )actual quote. Her and there an actual quote from a Lawrence or an Eliot, and more important flights of elegant prose of his own creation. All goes to make a tough read manageable to the neophyte. ( )
  vguy | Nov 4, 2020 |
This book is an informative but rather rambling mix of geology and travel writing. The book revolves around the various facets of plate tectonics, how each piece of the theory was puzzled out and how those pieces fit together to give us the Earth we have today. Fortey uses examples from all over the world to illustrate the various geological processes. Everything from fault lines, development of mountain ranges and oceans, subduction zones, volcanoes, earthquakessupercontinents, the Earth's interior, mining, minerals and gems, as well as a bit of ecology are covered. Fortey also emphasizes how the geology and geomorphology of a specific area has shaped ethinic culture and human experiences. The author is enthusiastic about his subject. The wirting is poetic and colourful, often dramatic, though sometimes a bit long-winded. The book contains photographs but is in desperate need of illustrations and diagrams of the various processes discussed. An interesting book for the intelligent layreader, who isn't afraid of a few technical terms. ( )
  ElentarriLT | Mar 24, 2020 |
Interesting. It covered basic geology, focusing on plate tectonics (of course) and on how the theory was developed - who discovered things that lead to the theory, who fought the concept (and the concepts that led to it) - interestingly, those are often the same people. He does it by looking at individual spots, some relatively small (Etna), some rather huge (the Alps, as a whole and several spots within them); showing the kinds of rocks that are there and then covering the _why_ of those rocks in that spot. There are frequent, somewhat disconcerting, personal side comments - "these rocks are interesting because I shared an office with a guy who was studying them" sort of thing. But this book doesn't suffer from the gossip that made Dry Storeroom No. 1 less than interesting to me. I do know quite a bit of geology, and he gave me few facts I wasn't already familiar with - but his presentation fit them together in ways they hadn't been before. It's a quite readable book, aside from what you might (will) learn from it. There's quite a bit of the history of the science - as I said above, who discovered what and what theories that led to, and then the next steps along the path. He does say, several times, that plate tectonics is still a concept under development - that it exists and has major effects on the structure of the Earth is solid, but details like what drives the motion, exactly what happens when plates are subducted (pushed down into the mantle, where - eventually - they melt), what the core of the Earth actually consists of (at the molecular level)...these are still being worked out. I don't think that's changed much in the last 10 or so years, since this book was published. Good book, worth reading, and probably worth rereading in a few years. ( )
  jjmcgaffey | May 11, 2017 |
signed by author, sept 2008
  BostonMineralClub | May 16, 2012 |
A review of geology, in the light of plate tectonics, very readable since it also recounts Fortey’s travels to visit pertinent geological sites, starting with the bay of Naples, and Vesuvius, to discuss volcanoes. The travel continues to Hawaii, then to the oceans, and on to the Alps, to illustrate the movement of the plates, and , to highlight the formation of mountain chains (orogeny is the word for formation of mountain chains). He discusses mineral and ore formation, ancient rocks and fossills, the workings of the mantle and continental crust, all topics introduced smoothly by his visit to a illustrative locale. The travel for the research of this book must have been very interesting, and Fortey’s chatty and relaxed style makes reading pleasurable. ( )
  neurodrew | Mar 14, 2012 |
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It should be difficult to lose a mountain, but it happens all the time around the Bay of Naples. - Chapter 1
For some years I have been thinking about how best to describe the way in which plate tectonics has changed our perception of the Earth. - Preface
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From the acclaimed author of Life and Trilobite!, a fascinating geological exploration of the earth's distant history as revealed by its natural wonders. The face of the earth, crisscrossed by chains of mountains like the scars of old wounds, has changed and changed again over billions of years, and the testament of the remote past is all around us. In this book Richard Fortey teaches us how to read its character, laying out the dominions of the world before us. He shows how human culture and natural history-even the shape of cities-are rooted in this deep geological past. In search of this past, Fortey takes us through the Alps, into Icelandic hot springs, down to the ocean floor, over the barren rocks of Newfoundland, into the lush ecosystems of Hawai'i, across the salt flats of Oman, and along the San Andreas Fault. On the slopes of Vesuvius, he tracks the history of the region down through the centuries to volcanic eruptions seen by fifteenth-century Italians, the Romans, and, from striking geological evidence, even Neolithic man. As story adds to story, the recent past connects with forgotten ages long ago, then much longer ago, as he describes the movement of plates and the development of ancient continents and seas. Nothing in this book is at rest. The surface of the earth dilates and collapses; seas and mountains rise and fall; continents move. Fortey again proves himself the ideal guide, with his superb descriptions of natural beauty, his gripping narratives, and his crystal-clear, always fascinating scientific explanations. Here is a book to change the way we see the world.

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