Highlights of our historical study of what’s happening in, on, and above Earth’s surface.
Jackson hangs this sumptuously produced overview on an expansive if arbitrary 100 topics or discoveries—beginning with ancient celebrations marking the solstices and equinoxes and ending with a look at the next Mars rover. In between he builds a roughly chronological picture of how scientific fields ranging from chemistry to seismology and paleontology developed over time and have helped us to understand geological processes, explore our planet and reconstruct its long history, measure and at least try to predict weather and natural disasters, and provide some clues to conditions on other worlds. Plentiful side boxes, period or later images, and finely detailed diagrams enhance the half- to two-page entries. A big folded timeline poster tucked into a back pocket summarizes the contents and also expands on them by tracking select contemporaneous world cultural milestones. After pondering a few “Imponderables,” such as whether climate is actually controllable and why the notion that Earth is flat just won’t die, the author finally shovels in all sorts of useful backmatter. Though he displays an overall parochialism reflected in a closing gallery of earth-science greats in which but three of the 23 are women, and only two not white, he crafts a grand tapestry of scientific thought and invention in action over many centuries.
A rich, if patchwork, view of large-scale events and our evolving understanding of them. (index, resources) (Nonfiction. 11-14)