Cover image for A walk through time : from stardust to us : the evolution of life on earth
Title:
A walk through time : from stardust to us : the evolution of life on earth
Author:
Liebes, Sidney.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Wiley, [1998]

©1998
Physical Description:
223 pages : illustrations (some color) ; 25 cm
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780471317005
Format :
Book

Available:*

Library
Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Status
Central Library QH367 .L525 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
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Summary

Summary

Imagine a walk where every step forward transports you a few million years in time. Just such a mind-expanding premise inspired this landmark book, developed from the acclaimed "Walk Through Time" exhibit on tour around the world.

Here, in one lavish volume, is the remarkable drama of the history of the universe and life on Earth. Travel from the furious blast of the Big Bang to the first pulse of life, and on through the rich pageant of life''s evolution from primordial microbes to the rise of Homo sapiens. Span 15 billion years to discover life''s greatest mysteries emerging. Over 130 beautiful four-color illustrations and an absorbing narrative highlight significant events and themes in Earth''s life story. The original exhibit itself is re-created as a timeline that runs throughout the book, pinpointing key stages in the evolutionary drama and where they fall in the vast sweep of time.

One result is a new appreciation of the rich complexity of the life processes of the planet aeons before the appearance of large-scale plants and animals. On the mile-long scale of the original "Walk," for example, microbial life appears 4,000 feet in the past and remains the sole life-form for most of the mile. Humans appear merely three feet ago. The last ice age concludes only one-tenth of an inch in the past, and the world''s population currently doubles each half a thousandth of an inch.

By relating life''s story according to the accurate timeline of evolution, A Walk Through Time highlights just what latecomers we humans are to Earth''s family of life, and showcases the surprising ingenuity and stamina of the microbial life that preceded us and still supports the life all around us. The book also reveals the stunning effects the human species has wrought in so short a span of time, precipitating what may become the largest species extinction in 65 million years.

All along the way, we are informed of the most important recent discoveries. We explore the exuberant creativity of microbial life-forms and learn about their surprisingly cosmopolitan lives, interconnected in a teeming web of symbiotic relationships described as the first World Wide Web of information exchange. We learn about the many mysteries being unraveled as we probe the code of DNA; how the universe coalesced into galaxies and planets; and how microscopic animals can survive in such superheated environments as deep-sea vents and deep inside the Earth. Most importantly, we learn that we can no longer perceive Earth as an inert lump of rock with an assembly of different life-forms, but must understand that our planet comprises one comprehensive, intricately woven life system.

Those who take this walk through time will gain a new understanding of the wondrous history of how life developed, a feeling of awe and inspiration for the complexity and beauty of the processes that have made life possible over billions of years, and a greater appreciation for the growing impact the human species is having on the future of all the myriad forms of life, including our own.

Imagine taking a walk where every step transports you a few million years through time! A Walk Through Time takes you on just such a journey. In addition to the informative main text, which tells the lively story of the evolution of life, the book contains the original text and illustrations of the acclaimed "Walk Through Time" exhibition on tour around the world. This innovative exhibition tells the story of life''s evolution in a mile-long walk highlighting the major developments.

In the book, the text of the exhibition runs along the bottom of the pages, along with a timeline to show how many millions of years have passed. Beautifully written and lavishly illustrated, A Walk Through Time allows you to both savor the astonishing story of life''s evolution through the engaging narrative of the main text and to enjoy the exhibition in the comfort of your own home.


Author Notes

SIDNEY LIEBES, Ph.D., is a physicist with research and teaching careers at Princeton and Stanford Universities. He recently retired as a research manager and senior scientist at Hewlett-Packard Laboratories.

ELISABET SAHTOURIS, Ph.D., is an evolutionary biologist and a consultant to the United Nations. She has taught at the University of Massachusetts and Massachusetts Institute of Technology and served as a science writer for the Horizon/Nova television series.

BRIAN SWIMME, Ph.D., is a mathematical cosmologist, the author of The Universe Story (with Thomas Berry), the creator of the video series Canticle to the Cosmos, and a member of the graduate faculty of the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco.


Reviews 1

Choice Review

A Walk through Time truly celebrates the wonder and beauty of life, and actually relates this fascinating history in two parallel formats. One is a narrative and the other contains the complete text, photographs, and timeline of a traveling exhibit (also called "A Walk through Time"). The timeline at the bottom of the page constantly serves to orient the reader in "deep time." Both the narrative and the text for the exhibition are written in a style that should engage general and more specialized audiences alike. Liebes, Sahtouris, and Swimme stress key events, processes, and crises in the evolution of life. Unlike many popular accounts, this book presents a more balanced and representative view of life. Thus, microbes--their relative importance in evolution and ecology, their longevity throughout the history of life, and their diversity--are emphasized. The many beautiful, colorful, and appropriate illustrations and photographs will earn the book a spot on many coffee tables. The informative and well- researched, edited, presented, and accessible text should earn it a place in general libraries. Glossary; good index. General readers; undergraduates. C. Mankiewicz; Beloit College


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