This course chronicles the history of Earth and life on Earth from the point of view of the minerals that made it all happen. A major theme is how minerals and life coevolved, leading to the unprecedented mineral diversity on our world compared to the other planets in the solar system. Professor Hazen tells this epic story in 48 action-packed lectures that take you from the big bang to the formation of the solar system to the major milestones that marked the evolution of Earth and life. He also looks ahead at what to expect millions to billions of years in the future.
It's easy to think that the green Earth dominated by life that we experience today is just as it's always been. But Professor Hazen introduces you to a succession of starkly different Earths, starting with the black, basalt-covered planet of 4.5 billion years ago, and progressing through blue, gray, red, and white phases as Earth, minerals, and life developed in concert.
Major episodes covered in these lectures include the formation of the moon from the collision of a Mars-sized body with the early Earth; the Great Oxidation Event, which was sparked by the earliest photosynthetic life and is responsible for Earth's iron and other important mineral deposits; the formation of the first continents; the start of plate tectonics more than 3 billion years ago; the repeating cycles of supercontinent formation; the Cambrian explosion of life, resulting in the first animal shells, bones, and teeth; the great episodes of mass extinction, including the dinosaurs; and the rise of humans - along with much else.
Most impressively, Professor Hazen is a pioneer in the study of mineral evolution, which is a unique lens through which to view the development of Earth. He tells the story with authority and with a rare gift for making you see the world in a new, intriguing way.
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By far the best. As a professional geologist I was amazed at how accessible he made some of the more difficult concepts of geology. He also demonstrated very clearly the two-way relationship that the geosphere and biosphere have with each other. Make no mistake, this is a long book, but definitely worth it.
From this single lecture series, you will have a very strong fundamental understanding of the physics of the early universe, stellar formation, the formation and evolution of the Earth's geology and geologic processes, and a good foundation of biological evolution. I read a lot of popular science magazines and books and there is not a single location where an educated layman could possible leave with so many concepts wound neatly together from various disciplines. It is masterful.