New Read: Life on a Young Planet

Life on a Young Planet: The First Billion Years of Evolution on Earth by Andrew H. Knoll is my first read of the new year and I’m thrilled with it so far. Yes, I said “thrilled” about a science book. That’s the kind of crazy I am.

Life on a Young Planet by Andrew H. Knoll
Life on a Young Planet

Why am I reading this? Because last year I had a burning question, one that has been rolling around in my head since high school.

What was that question? Simple. How do we know how old rocks are?

I’ve looked it up so many times and I never have found a simple answer, so I figured it was probably too complicated a subject for a simple answer. That’s when I considered taking a class, at least a free online one. I’ve always had an interest in science, especially geology.

I just so happen to live in a great place to discover geology, the desert! So many times in my life I’ve been out hiking and wondered about the rocks around me. How did the land get this way? What processes are at work? What kind of rock is this? I wonder what’s in these rocks. I’ve bought and perused roadside geology books, scanned my way through visitor centers and museums, but never really studied. Maybe I should!

I did a quick search and settled into a free lecture series only to be dismayed. It was boring and the lecturer was condescending…two of the three reasons I dropped out of university when I was a kid.

That’s when I googled “best books on learning earth sciences” and found a list of amazing books. That has been my best bet in most of my curiosity spurts. The interwebs did not disappoint!

I have found that I learn best from narratives, not lectures. Good books that get into the stories behind the discoveries, ones that have a personal spin along with the facts and details, and ones that don’t talk down to the reader, are my favorite way to learn new things. And, so far, this book has all of those things.

“The fossils of animals, claimed by popular culture as much as by science, provide a biological chronicle of remarkable proportions. And yet, they record only the most recent chapters in Earth’s immense evolutionary epic. The complete history of life ranges over four billion years, through alien worlds of sulfurous oceans beneath asphyxiating air, past iron-breathing bacteria and microscopic chimeras, to arrive at last at our familiar world of oxygen and ozone, forested valleys, and animals that swim, walk, and fly. Scheherazade could hardly have invented a more engaging tale.”

See? How could you NOT want to read this book cover to cover with an introduction like that?

This morning (and some yesterday) I’ve read sixty pages into this glorious tome, and I won’t say I’m following it all, but I am getting the general idea and I’m learning more with each page. It’s already begun to answer my questions about geological time, and I’m sure he’ll have more to say that will answer questions I didn’t even know I had.

Don’t worry! I’ll share more as I read!

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