By Pascal Richet
For many of historical past, humans depended on mythology or faith to supply a solution to the urgent query of the earth's age, even if nature abounds with clues. In "A usual heritage of Time", geophysicist Pascal Richet tells the attention-grabbing tale of the way scientists and philosophers tested these clues and from them outfitted a chronological scale that has made it attainable to reconstruct the background of nature itself. the search for time is a narrative of ingenuity and backbone, and prefer a geologist, Pascal Richet rigorously peels again the strata of that background, giving us an opportunity to surprise at every one layer and actually savour how a long way our wisdom - and our planet - have come.
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Extra resources for A Natural History of Time
The seashells in the mountains attested to the continual changes affecting the earth’s surface. Doubtlessly recognized by the Greeks because of their profound curiosity about the sea and its actions, as well as about navigation, the link between marine sedimentation and time was later to play a crucial role in the endless discussions throughout the nineteenth century regarding the age of the earth. Although that link constituted a recurring theme in ancient geography, it remained unexploited by the Greeks.
And if in places the sea recedes, while in others it encroaches, then evidently the same parts of the earth as a whole are not always sea, nor always mainland, but in the process of time all changes. The earth, in being wrought by the waters, had obviously been in a constant state of remodeling, but this represented nothing more than ripples passing over a surface that, on the whole, remained unchanged. The unceasing repetition of the same events was what gave time its cyclic nature. “Those whose vision is limited think that the cause of these effects is a universal process of change, the whole universe being in the process of growth,” Aristotle had concluded, adding “It is absurd to argue that the whole is in a process of change because of small changes of 22 TIME WITHOUT A BEGINNING?
He did a bold thing, that would be reprehensible even for God—he dared to schedule the stars for posterity, and tick off the heavenly bodies by name in a list, devising machinery [the astrolabe, to be specific] by means of which to indicate their several positions and magnitudes, in order that from that time onward it might be possible to discern not only whether stars perish and are born, but whether some are in transit and in motion, and also whether they increase and decrease in magnitude—thus bequeathing the heavens as a legacy to all mankind, supposing anybody had been found to claim that inheritance!