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Part biography and part scientific detective story, this debut by British science journalist Walker (a features editor for New Scientist) tells the story of Paul Hoffman, the brilliant, cantankerous Harvard geology professor most responsible for promoting the concept of "Snowball Earth." This controversial hypothesis asserts that about 600 million years ago, the entire planet was encased in ice that was thicker and lasted millennia longer than in any previously recognized ice age. Instantaneously in geologic time, the hypothesis continues, the planet moved from temperatures averaging minus 40 degrees centigrade to sweltering heat unlike anything seen since. These extreme climatic fluctuations may have been responsible for the origination of multicellular life at the beginning of the Cambrian Era and thus, ultimately, for most life on Earth today. Walker does a superb job of relating both the scientific and the human side of the controversy. Her prose, like her story, is likely to engage both scientists and general readers equally. All will be able to appreciate the importance of the issues while gaining greater insight into the process of scientific advances. Walker has written an important, provocative book that is a joy to read.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
The Cambrian explosion, which occurred about 600 million years ago when organisms graduated from single-celled monotony to multicelled exuberance, has defied causal explanation. But its coincidence with the ending of an ice age harbors a possible clue. This Precambrian ice era, which froze the entire surface of the earth for 200 million years or more, has, over the past 15 years, become an accepted if startling fact in geological circles, and like many upstart theories in science, its adoption contains stories of research and rivalry. Walker chronicles them through the principals in the debate, focusing mainly on one Paul Hoffman. Walker characterizes him in an unflattering light but presents a positive picture of Hoffman's relentless advocacy of the frozen-earth theory. She also dramatizes with fairness the opponents' alternative interpretations of the main geologic evidence, creating narrative tension that shows science in action. Including vignettes about fieldwork, Walker registers the feel of doing the actual work of geology, especially the thrilling hunt for traces of a frigid apocalypse. Gilbert Taylor
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
This book offers a fascinating look at a possible explanation of how life went from single cell organisms to multicellular organisms. Read morePublished on May 8 2004 by Andrew Wyllie
Great writing for the layperson interested in pre-quaternary climate change theory, but some of the geoscientists researching the 'snowball earth' appear to have personalities... Read morePublished on April 29 2004 by James Safranek
This book provides wonderful insight into both an interesting and controversial theory, and the personal and professional struggles of those who debate it. Read morePublished on April 21 2004 by Robert C. Martin
It is always exciting to learn about new ideas on the cutting edge of any science. The idea of a Snowball Earth has sparked many debates and arguments. Read morePublished on Oct. 13 2003
Gabrielle Walker's first book portrays the struggle of a renegade scientist to establish a theory of evolution's progress. Read morePublished on Sept. 9 2003 by Stephen A. Haines
Geologists since the eighteenth century have advocated "uniformitarianism," the concept that what is going on to the Earth now is essentially the same as what has gone on... Read morePublished on July 30 2003 by Rob Hardy
Sorry, couldn't help it!
This is a fun, fascinating layman's account of the controversial theory of cryptozoic global glaciation, how it may have been the trigger behind the... Read more
I first heard about the Snowball Earth theory when I saw a documentary about it on the Discovery Channel. I'm usually more of an astronomy fan, but that documentary fascinated me. Read morePublished on June 30 2003 by John Thomas
Gabrielle Walker's "Snowball Earth" reads like a gripping detective tale and spellbinding memoir. Read morePublished on June 21 2003 by John Kwok