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The Medea Hypothesis

The Medea Hypothesis Author Peter Ward
ISBN-10 0691130752
Release 2009-04-20
Pages 180
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In The Medea Hypothesis, renowned paleontologist Peter Ward proposes a revolutionary and provocative vision of life's relationship with the Earth's biosphere--one that has frightening implications for our future, yet also offers hope. Using the latest discoveries from the geological record, he argues that life might be its own worst enemy. This stands in stark contrast to James Lovelock's Gaia hypothesis--the idea that life sustains habitable conditions on Earth. In answer to Gaia, which draws on the idea of the "good mother" who nurtures life, Ward invokes Medea, the mythical mother who killed her own children. Could life by its very nature threaten its own existence? According to the Medea hypothesis, it does. Ward demonstrates that all but one of the mass extinctions that have struck Earth were caused by life itself. He looks at our planet's history in a new way, revealing an Earth that is witnessing an alarming decline of diversity and biomass--a decline brought on by life's own "biocidal" tendencies. And the Medea hypothesis applies not just to our planet--its dire prognosis extends to all potential life in the universe. Yet life on Earth doesn't have to be lethal. Ward shows why, but warns that our time is running out. Breathtaking in scope, The Medea Hypothesis is certain to arouse fierce debate and radically transform our worldview. It serves as an urgent challenge to all of us to think in new ways if we hope to save ourselves from ourselves.



On Gaia

On Gaia Author Toby Tyrrell
ISBN-10 9781400847914
Release 2013-07-21
Pages 320
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One of the enduring questions about our planet is how it has remained continuously habitable over vast stretches of geological time despite the fact that its atmosphere and climate are potentially unstable. James Lovelock's Gaia hypothesis posits that life itself has intervened in the regulation of the planetary environment in order to keep it stable and favorable for life. First proposed in the 1970s, Lovelock's hypothesis remains highly controversial and continues to provoke fierce debate. On Gaia undertakes the first in-depth investigation of the arguments put forward by Lovelock and others--and concludes that the evidence doesn't stack up in support of Gaia. Toby Tyrrell draws on the latest findings in fields as diverse as climate science, oceanography, atmospheric science, geology, ecology, and evolutionary biology. He takes readers to obscure corners of the natural world, from southern Africa where ancient rocks reveal that icebergs were once present near the equator, to mimics of cleaner fish on Indonesian reefs, to blind fish deep in Mexican caves. Tyrrell weaves these and many other intriguing observations into a comprehensive analysis of the major assertions and lines of argument underpinning Gaia, and finds that it is not a credible picture of how life and Earth interact. On Gaia reflects on the scientific evidence indicating that life and environment mutually affect each other, and proposes that feedbacks on Earth do not provide robust protection against the environment becoming uninhabitable--or against poor stewardship by us.



Climate Vulnerability

Climate Vulnerability Author
ISBN-10 9780123847041
Release 2013-03-15
Pages 1570
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Climate change has been the subject of thousands of books and magazines, scientific journals, and newspaper articles daily. It’s a subject that can be very political and emotional, often blurring the lines between fact and fiction. The vast majority of research, studies, projections and recommendations tend to focus on the human influence on climate change and global warming as the result of CO2 emissions, often to the exclusion of other threats that include population growth and the stress placed on energy sources due to emerging global affluence. Climate Vulnerability seeks to strip away the politics and emotion that surround climate change and will assess the broad range of threats using the bottom up approach—including CO2 emissions, population growth, emerging affluence, and many others—to our five most critical resources: water, food, ecosystems, energy, and human health. Inclusively determining what these threats are while seeking preventive measures and adaptations is at the heart of this unique reference work. Takes a Bottom-Up approach, addressing climate change and the threat to our key resources at the local level first and globally second, providing a more accurate and inclusive approach. Includes extensive cross-referencing, which is key to readers as new connections between factors can be discovered. Cuts across a number of disciplines and will appeal to Biological Science, Earth & Environmental Science, Ecology, and Social Science, comprehensively addressing climate change and other threats to our key resources from multiple perspectives



Life s Engines

Life s Engines Author Paul G. Falkowski
ISBN-10 9781400865727
Release 2015-04-27
Pages 224
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For almost four billion years, microbes had the primordial oceans all to themselves. The stewards of Earth, these organisms transformed the chemistry of our planet to make it habitable for plants, animals, and us. Life's Engines takes readers deep into the microscopic world to explore how these marvelous creatures made life on Earth possible—and how human life today would cease to exist without them. Paul Falkowski looks "under the hood" of microbes to find the engines of life, the actual working parts that do the biochemical heavy lifting for every living organism on Earth. With insight and humor, he explains how these miniature engines are built—and how they have been appropriated by and assembled like Lego sets within every creature that walks, swims, or flies. Falkowski shows how evolution works to maintain this core machinery of life, and how we and other animals are veritable conglomerations of microbes. A vibrantly entertaining book about the microbes that support our very existence, Life's Engines will inspire wonder about these elegantly complex nanomachines that have driven life since its origin. It also issues a timely warning about the dangers of tinkering with that machinery to make it more "efficient" at meeting the ever-growing demands of humans in the coming century.



A New History of Life

A New History of Life Author Peter Ward
ISBN-10 9781608199082
Release 2015-04-07
Pages 400
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Charles Darwin's theories, first published more than 150 years ago, form the backbone of how we understand the history of the Earth. In reality, the currently accepted history of life on Earth is so flawed, so out of date, that it's past time we need a 'New History of Life.' In their latest book, Joe Kirschvink and Peter Ward will show that many of our most cherished beliefs about the evolution of life are wrong. Gathering and analyzing years of discoveries and research not yet widely known to the public, A New History of Life proposes a different origin of species than the one Darwin proposed, one which includes eight-foot-long centipedes, a frozen "snowball Earth†?, and the seeds for life originating on Mars. Drawing on their years of experience in paleontology, biology, chemistry, and astrobiology, experts Ward and Kirschvink paint a picture of the origins life on Earth that are at once too fabulous to imagine and too familiar to dismiss--and looking forward, A New History of Life brilliantly assembles insights from some of the latest scientific research to understand how life on Earth can and might evolve far into the future.



Gorgon

Gorgon Author Peter Ward
ISBN-10 0143034715
Release 2005-02-01
Pages 257
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Based on more than a decade's research in South Africa's Karoo Desert, this remarkable journey of discovery and real-life adventure deep into Earth's history is offered by a renowned scientist. Photo insert.



Gaia

Gaia Author James Lovelock
ISBN-10 9780192862181
Release 2000-09-28
Pages 148
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This classic work is now reissued in new covers with a new Preface by the author. Written for non-scientists, this is an original work in which James Lovelock puts forward his inspirational idea that life on earth functions as a single organism.



The Little Book of String Theory

The Little Book of String Theory Author Steven S. Gubser
ISBN-10 1400834430
Release 2010-02-08
Pages 184
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The Little Book of String Theory offers a short, accessible, and entertaining introduction to one of the most talked-about areas of physics today. String theory has been called the "theory of everything." It seeks to describe all the fundamental forces of nature. It encompasses gravity and quantum mechanics in one unifying theory. But it is unproven and fraught with controversy. After reading this book, you'll be able to draw your own conclusions about string theory. Steve Gubser begins by explaining Einstein's famous equation E = mc2 , quantum mechanics, and black holes. He then gives readers a crash course in string theory and the core ideas behind it. In plain English and with a minimum of mathematics, Gubser covers strings, branes, string dualities, extra dimensions, curved spacetime, quantum fluctuations, symmetry, and supersymmetry. He describes efforts to link string theory to experimental physics and uses analogies that nonscientists can understand. How does Chopin's Fantasie-Impromptu relate to quantum mechanics? What would it be like to fall into a black hole? Why is dancing a waltz similar to contemplating a string duality? Find out in the pages of this book. The Little Book of String Theory is the essential, most up-to-date beginner's guide to this elegant, multidimensional field of physics.



The Great Brain Debate

The Great Brain Debate Author John E. Dowling
ISBN-10 9781400841387
Release 2011-10-23
Pages 200
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Whether our personality, intelligence, and behavior are more likely to be shaped by our environment or our genetic coding is not simply an idle question for today's researchers. There are tremendous consequences to understanding the crucial role that environment and genes each play. How we raise and educate our children, how we treat various mental diseases or conditions, how we care for our elderly--these are just some of the issues that can be informed by a better understanding of brain development. In The Great Brain Debate, the eminent neuroscience researcher John Dowling looks at these and other important issues. The work that is being done on the connection between the brain and vision, as well as the ways in which our brains help us learn new languages, are particularly revealing. From this groundbreaking new research, Dowling explains startling new insights into how the brain functions and how it can (or cannot) be molded and changed. By studying the brain across the spectrum of our lives, from infancy through adulthood and into old age, Dowling shows the ways in which both nature and nurture play key roles over the course of a human lifetime.



Regenesis

Regenesis Author George M. Church
ISBN-10 9780465038657
Release 2014-04-08
Pages 304
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“Bold and provocative… Regenesis tells of recent advances that may soon yield endless supplies of renewable energy, increased longevity and the return of long-extinct species.”—New Scientist In Regenesis, Harvard biologist George Church and science writer Ed Regis explore the possibilities—and perils—of the emerging field of synthetic biology. Synthetic biology, in which living organisms are selectively altered by modifying substantial portions of their genomes, allows for the creation of entirely new species of organisms. These technologies—far from the out-of-control nightmare depicted in science fiction—have the power to improve human and animal health, increase our intelligence, enhance our memory, and even extend our life span. A breathtaking look at the potential of this world-changing technology, Regenesis is nothing less than a guide to the future of life.



Oxygen

Oxygen Author Donald E. Canfield
ISBN-10 9781400849888
Release 2014-01-19
Pages 216
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The air we breathe is twenty-one percent oxygen, an amount higher than on any other known world. While we may take our air for granted, Earth was not always an oxygenated planet. How did it become this way? Donald Canfield—one of the world's leading authorities on geochemistry, earth history, and the early oceans—covers this vast history, emphasizing its relationship to the evolution of life and the evolving chemistry of the Earth. Canfield guides readers through the various lines of scientific evidence, considers some of the wrong turns and dead ends along the way, and highlights the scientists and researchers who have made key discoveries in the field. Showing how Earth’s atmosphere developed over time, Oxygen takes readers on a remarkable journey through the history of the oxygenation of our planet. Some images inside the book are unavailable due to digital copyright restrictions.



Eating the Sun

Eating the Sun Author Oliver Morton
ISBN-10 9780007163656
Release 2009-11-17
Pages 480
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Wherever there is greenery, photosynthesis is working to make oxygen, release energy, and create living matter from the raw material of sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide. Without photosynthesis, there would be an empty world, an empty sky, and a sun that does nothing more than warm the rocks and reflect off the sea. Eating the Sun is the story of a world in crisis; an appreciation of the importance of plants; a history of the earth and the feuds and fantasies of warring scientists; a celebration of how the smallest things, enzymes and pigments, influence the largest things, the oceans, the rainforests, and the fossil fuel economy. Oliver Morton offers a fascinating, lively, profound look at nature's greatest miracle and sounds a much-needed call to arms—illuminating a potential crisis of climatic chaos and explaining how we can change our situation, for better or for worse.



Richard Dawkins

Richard Dawkins Author Mark Ridley
ISBN-10 0199214662
Release 2007
Pages 283
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This sparkling collection explores the impact of Richard Dawkins as scientist, rationalist, and one of the most important thinkers alive today. Specially commissioned pieces by leading figures in science, philosophy, literature, and the media, such as Daniel C. Dennett, Matt Ridley, Steven Pinker, Philip Pullman, and the Bishop of Oxford, highlight the breadth and range of Dawkins' influence on modern science and culture, from the gene's eye view of evolution to his energetic engagement in public debates on science, rationalism, and religion. The volume includes personal reminiscences and critical debate as well as accessible discussions of science - it provides a stimulating tribute to a remarkable intellectual.



Rare Earth

Rare Earth Author Peter D. Ward
ISBN-10 9780387218489
Release 2007-05-08
Pages 338
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What determines whether complex life will arise on a planet, or even any life at all? Questions such as these are investigated in this groundbreaking book. In doing so, the authors synthesize information from astronomy, biology, and paleontology, and apply it to what we know about the rise of life on Earth and to what could possibly happen elsewhere in the universe. Everyone who has been thrilled by the recent discoveries of extrasolar planets and the indications of life on Mars and the Jovian moon Europa will be fascinated by Rare Earth, and its implications for those who look to the heavens for companionship.



Annals of the Former World

Annals of the Former World Author John McPhee
ISBN-10 9780374708467
Release 2000-06-15
Pages 448
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The Pulitzer Prize-winning view of the continent, across the fortieth parallel and down through 4.6 billion years Twenty years ago, when John McPhee began his journeys back and forth across the United States, he planned to describe a cross section of North America at about the fortieth parallel and, in the process, come to an understanding not only of the science but of the style of the geologists he traveled with. The structure of the book never changed, but its breadth caused him to complete it in stages, under the overall title Annals of the Former World. Like the terrain it covers, Annals of the Former World tells a multilayered tale, and the reader may choose one of many paths through it. As clearly and succinctly written as it is profoundly informed, this is our finest popular survey of geology and a masterpiece of modern nonfiction. Annals of the Former World is the winner of the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for Nonfiction.



The Plutocene Blueprints for a Post Anthropocene Greenhouse Earth

The Plutocene  Blueprints for a Post Anthropocene Greenhouse Earth Author Andrew Yoram Glikson
ISBN-10 9783319572376
Release 2017-08-08
Pages 154
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This book presents projections and blueprints of the future geologic period, climate and biosphere, based on our current understanding of the Earth’s history and recent developments in the atmosphere-ocean-cryosphere system. By the second decade of the 21st century it has become clear that, rather than channel its efforts into protecting its planetary biosphere and living species, Homo sapiens continues to sink its remaining resources into weapons, including nuclear missiles – thus increasing the risk of intentional or accidental spread of radioactive nuclides on land, oceans and atmosphere. With time, possibility becomes probability, and probability becomes certainty ‒ heralding a transition from the Anthropocene to a new geological period, named here as Plutocene after the element Plutonium. During the Plutocene the biosphere is dominated by elevated temperatures, analogous to the Pliocene (2.6 – 5.3 Ma ago) or the Miocene (5.3 - 23 Ma ago) when mean global temperatures were 2 to 4 degrees Celsius warmer and sea levels 20 to 40 meters higher than pre-industrial levels. High levels of radioactivity will persist for at least 20,000 years and acid oceans will severely limit biological activity to the hardiest species. Atmospheric CO2 higher than 500 ppm with residence time on the order of thousands of years will delay the subsequent glacial cycle. These factors restrict comparisons of the Plutocene with biosphere conditions during the Miocene and Pliocene periods, partly because the flora and fauna evolved more gradually during these periods, unlike the abrupt climate shift of state during the second half of the 20th century and first part of the 21st century. Following a long lull in biological activity dominated by radiation-resistant organisms, especially Arthropods, a resumption of glacial cycles and decline in radioactivity will lead to the re-emergence of descendants of burrowing mammals and other genera. Depending on the intensity of radioactive pollution, hunter-gatherer humans may survive in northern latitudes, relatively cold high-altitude mountain valleys and elevated volcanic islands. In some areas subsistence farming may be possible. A new cycle will commence.



The Idea of the Self

The Idea of the Self Author Jerrold Seigel
ISBN-10 0521605547
Release 2005-02-17
Pages 724
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What is the self? The question has preoccupied people in many times and places, but nowhere more than in the modern West, where it has spawned debates that still resound today. Jerrold Seigel combines theoretical and contextual approaches to explore the ways key figures have understood whether and how far individuals can achieve coherence and consistency in the face of inner tensions and external pressures. Clarifying that recent "post-modernist" accounts belong firmly to the tradition of Western thinking they have sought to supercede, Seigel provides a persuasive alternative to claims that the modern self is typically egocentric or disengaged. Both a Fulbright Fellow and a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow, Jerrold Seigel is currently William R. Keenan Professor of History at NYU. His previous books include The Private Worlds of Marcel Duchamp (University of California Press, 1995) and Bohemian Paris: Culture, Politics and the Boundaries of Bourgeois Life (Viking Penguin, 1986).