Books by Robert M. Hazen

SYMPHONY IN C by Robert M. Hazen
Released: June 11, 2019

"A skillful account of the central element in our lives."
An appealing popular-science account of carbon, the "giver of life." Read full book review >
Released: May 1, 2012

"A report of a fascinating new theory on the Earth's origins written in a sparkling style with many personal touches."
Hazen (Earth Science/George Mason Univ.; Genesis: The Scientific Quest for Life's Origins, 2005, etc.) offers startling evidence that "Earth's living and nonliving spheres" have co-evolved over the past 4 billion years. Read full book review >
Released: Dec. 1, 1993

The ancient alchemists sought for gold, but the new alchemists have found diamonds—in nearly unlimited quantities, and just a good squeeze away—reports Hazen (Science/George Mason University; coauthor, Science Matters, 1992, etc.) in this sparkling gem of technological history. The trick is getting that squeeze exactly right. Diamonds form naturally one hundred miles below the earth's surface, where the pressure is one hundred pounds per square inch. How many are there? ``Billions of tons of diamonds,'' says Hazen, who loves to drop stunning statistics. When the rare handful reaches sea level—only through volcanic activity, it seems—everyone wants them, for their beauty, their hardness (more atoms per cubic inch than any other substance), their refraction (light passing through a diamond is slowed to 80,000 miles per second). But can we make them in the lab? Early attempts resulted in catastrophic explosions. Then came Percy Bridgman, a Harvard wizard who broke the high-pressure barrier by inventing a press that could squash ``just about everything he could get his hands on''—an invention that won him a Nobel in 1946. In the early 1950's, a weird Swedish firm, basing their research on clues in Norse mythology, managed to synthesize a few diamonds—but the real triumph came with the work of Tracy Hall at General Electric in the mid-50's. By 1960, everyone was making diamonds from all sorts of substances, even peanut butter. Today, the quest for higher pressures continues, using synthesized-diamond anvils (one millibar has been reached, ``the pressure you'd feel underneath a stone monument roughly 2000 miles tall'') and leading to new models of the earth's interior and the possible discovery of new exotic substances, such as metallic hydrogen. Multifaceted, and glittering with drama and wit. (B&w photographs, line drawings) Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 2, 1990

A first-rate exposition—thorough, accessible, and entertaining—of the rudiments of scientific knowledge. Top science-writers Hazen (The Breakthrough, 1988) and Trefil (Reading the Mind of God, 1989, etc.) discuss the full range of science fact and theory here, from "Knowing" through "Particle Physics," from "Astronomy" through "Ecosystems." Scientific illiteracy, the authors say, is rampant; only three out of 24 physicists and geologists they questioned could explain the difference between DNA and RNA ("a basic piece of information in the life sciences"). To combat this ignorance, the authors pivot each chapter around one of 18 "general principles," printed in boldface: "The universe is regular and predictable" guides the discussion of "Knowing"; "All living things are made from cells, the chemical factories of life" guides the material on "The Ladder of Life," and so on. The discussions themselves are well-organized and clear, and include topical references (the chapter on "The Code of Life," for example, touches upon the sticky question of whether life begins at conception, and looks at DNA Fingerprinting). Boosted by scores of b&w drawings and charts, this is easily one of the finest available single-volume introductions to science. Read full book review >