Oxygen: A Four Billion Year History

Princeton University Press
1
Free sample

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.

Read more

About the author

Donald E. Canfield is professor of ecology at the University of Southern Denmark.
Read more
2.0
1 total
Loading...

Additional Information

Publisher
Princeton University Press
Read more
Published on
Jan 19, 2014
Read more
Pages
216
Read more
ISBN
9781400849888
Read more
Language
English
Read more
Genres
Nature / General
Science / Earth Sciences / General
Science / Earth Sciences / Meteorology & Climatology
Science / General
Science / Life Sciences / Ecology
Science / Natural History
Read more
Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
Read more
Read Aloud
Available on Android devices
Read more
Eligible for Family Library

Reading information

Smartphones and Tablets

Install the Google Play Books app for Android and iPad/iPhone. It syncs automatically with your account and allows you to read online or offline wherever you are.

Laptops and Computers

You can read books purchased on Google Play using your computer's web browser.

eReaders and other devices

To read on e-ink devices like the Sony eReader or Barnes & Noble Nook, you'll need to download a file and transfer it to your device. Please follow the detailed Help center instructions to transfer the files to supported eReaders.
ONE OF THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW'S 10 BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR

A major book about the future of the world, blending intellectual and natural history and field reporting into a powerful account of the mass extinction unfolding before our eyes
Over the last half a billion years, there have been five mass extinctions, when the diversity of life on earth suddenly and dramatically contracted. Scientists around the world are currently monitoring the sixth extinction, predicted to be the most devastating extinction event since the asteroid impact that wiped out the dinosaurs. This time around, the cataclysm is us. In The Sixth Extinction, two-time winner of the National Magazine Award and New Yorker writer Elizabeth Kolbert draws on the work of scores of researchers in half a dozen disciplines, accompanying many of them into the field: geologists who study deep ocean cores, botanists who follow the tree line as it climbs up the Andes, marine biologists who dive off the Great Barrier Reef. She introduces us to a dozen species, some already gone, others facing extinction, including the Panamian golden frog, staghorn coral, the great auk, and the Sumatran rhino. Through these stories, Kolbert provides a moving account of the disappearances occurring all around us and traces the evolution of extinction as concept, from its first articulation by Georges Cuvier in revolutionary Paris up through the present day. The sixth extinction is likely to be mankind's most lasting legacy; as Kolbert observes, it compels us to rethink the fundamental question of what it means to be human.

At the dawn of the twentieth century, a great confidence suffused America. Isaac Cline was one of the era's new men, a scientist who believed he knew all there was to know about the motion of clouds and the behavior of storms. The idea that a hurricane could damage the city of Galveston, Texas, where he was based, was to him preposterous, "an absurd delusion." It was 1900, a year when America felt bigger and stronger than ever before. Nothing in nature could hobble the gleaming city of Galveston, then a magical place that seemed destined to become the New York of the Gulf.

That August, a strange, prolonged heat wave gripped the nation and killed scores of people in New York and Chicago. Odd things seemed to happen everywhere: A plague of crickets engulfed Waco. The Bering Glacier began to shrink. Rain fell on Galveston with greater intensity than anyone could remember. Far away, in Africa, immense thunderstorms blossomed over the city of Dakar, and great currents of wind converged. A wave of atmospheric turbulence slipped from the coast of western Africa. Most such waves faded quickly. This one did not.

In Cuba, America's overconfidence was made all too obvious by the Weather Bureau's obsession with controlling hurricane forecasts, even though Cuba's indigenous weathermen had pioneered hurricane science. As the bureau's forecasters assured the nation that all was calm in the Caribbean, Cuba's own weathermen fretted about ominous signs in the sky. A curious stillness gripped Antigua. Only a few unlucky sea captains discovered that the storm had achieved an intensity no man alive had ever experienced.

In Galveston, reassured by Cline's belief that no hurricane could seriously damage the city, there was celebration. Children played in the rising water. Hundreds of people gathered at the beach to marvel at the fantastically tall waves and gorgeous pink sky, until the surf began ripping the city's beloved beachfront apart. Within the next few hours Galveston would endure a hurricane that to this day remains the nation's deadliest natural disaster. In Galveston alone at least 6,000 people, possibly as many as 10,000, would lose their lives, a number far greater than the combined death toll of the Johnstown Flood and 1906 San Francisco Earthquake.

And Isaac Cline would experience his own unbearable loss.

Meticulously researched and vividly written, Isaac's Storm is based on Cline's own letters, telegrams, and reports, the testimony of scores of survivors, and our latest understanding of the hows and whys of great storms. Ultimately, however, it is the story of what can happen when human arrogance meets nature's last great uncontrollable force. As such, Isaac's Storm carries a warning for our time.


From the Hardcover edition.
El aire que respiramos tiene un 21% de oxígeno, una cantidad mayor que en cualquier otro mundo conocido. Aunque podemos dar por sentado nuestro aire, la Tierra no fue siempre un planeta oxigenado. ¿Cómo se volvió así? Oxígeno es la narración más actualizada de la historia del oxígeno atmosférico enla Tierra. Donald E. Canfield –una de las principales autoridades en geoquímica, historia de la Tierra y los océanos primitivos— recorre esta vasta historia, poniendo el énfasis en su relación con la evolución de la vida y la química cambiante dela Tierra. Con una narrativa en primera persona accesible y colorista, bebe de multitud de disciplinas, como la geología, la paleontología, la geoquímica, la bioquímica, la fisiología animal y la microbiología, para explicar por qué nuestro planeta oxigenado se volvió el lugar ideal para la vida.

Al describir qué procesos, tanto biológicos como geológicos, actúan para controlar los niveles de oxígeno en la atmósfera, el autor rastrea a través del tiempo los registros de la concentración de oxígeno. El lector aprende acerca del «gran suceso de oxidación», el punto de inflexión en que, hace 2.300 millones de años, el contenido de oxígeno dela Tierrase incrementó radicalmente, y Canfield examina cómo la oxigenación creó un entorno favorable para la evolución de los animales. El autor guía a los lectores por las diversas líneas de evidencia científica, considera algunos de las vías erróneas y callejones sin salida que han surgido en el camino, y destaca a los científicos que han hecho los descubrimientos clave en el campo.

Mostrando cómo la atmósfera de la Tierrase ha desarrollado en el tiempo, Oxígeno conduce a los lectores en un viaje extraordinario por la historia de la oxigenación de nuestro planeta.

©2018 GoogleSite Terms of ServicePrivacyDevelopersArtistsAbout Google
By purchasing this item, you are transacting with Google Payments and agreeing to the Google Payments Terms of Service and Privacy Notice.