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The Age of Everything
How Science Explores the Past
Matthew Hedman
University of Chicago Press, 2007
Taking advantage of recent advances throughout the sciences, Matthew Hedman brings the distant past closer to us than it has ever been. Here, he shows how scientists have determined the age of everything from the colonization of the New World over 13,000 years ago to the origin of the universe nearly fourteen billion years ago.

Hedman details, for example, how interdisciplinary studies of the Great Pyramids of Egypt can determine exactly when and how these incredible structures were built. He shows how the remains of humble trees can illuminate how the surface of the sun has changed over the past ten millennia. And he also explores how the origins of the earth, solar system, and universe are being discerned with help from rocks that fall from the sky, the light from distant stars, and even the static seen on television sets.

Covering a wide range of time scales, from the Big Bang to human history, The Age of Everything is a provocative and far-ranging look at how science has determined the age of everything from modern mammals to the oldest stars, and will be indispensable for all armchair time travelers.
“We are used to being told confidently of an enormous, measurable past: that some collection of dusty bones is tens of thousands of years old, or that astronomical bodies have an age of some billions. But how exactly do scientists come to know these things? That is the subject of this quite fascinating book. . . . As told by Hedman, an astronomer, each story is a marvel of compressed exegesis that takes into account some of the most modern and intriguing hypotheses.”—Steven Poole, Guardian
“Hedman is worth reading because he is careful to present both the power and peril of trying to extract precise chronological data. These are all very active areas of study, and as you read Hedman you begin to see how researchers have to be both very careful and incredibly audacious, and how much of our understanding of ourselves—through history, through paleontology, through astronomy—depends on determining the age of everything.”—Anthony Doerr, Boston Globe 

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Angry Planet
Decolonial Fiction and the American Third World
Anne Stewart
University of Minnesota Press, 2022

Before the idea of the Anthropocene, there was the angry planet

How might we understand an earthquake as a complaint, or erosion as a form of protest—in short, the Earth as an angry planet? Many novels from the end of the millennium did just that, centering around an Earth that acts, moves, shapes human affairs, and creates dramatic, nonanthropogenic change.

In Angry Planet, Anne Stewart uses this literature to develop a theoretical framework for reading with and through planetary motion. Typified by authors like Colson Whitehead, Octavia Butler, and Leslie Marmon Silko, whose work anticipates contemporary critical concepts of entanglement, withdrawal, delinking, and resurgence, angry planet fiction coalesced in the 1990s and delineated the contours of a decolonial ontology. Stewart shows how this fiction brought Black and Indigenous thought into conversation, offering a fresh account of globalization in the 1990s from the perspective of the American Third World, construing it as the era that first made connections among environmental crises and antiracist and decolonial struggles.

By synthesizing these major intersections of thought production in the final decades of the twentieth century, Stewart offers a recent history of dissent to the young movements of the twenty-first century. As she reveals, this knowledge is crucial to incipient struggles of our contemporary era, as our political imaginaries grapple with the major challenges of white nationalism and climate change denial.


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Earth and Mars
A Reflection
Stephen E. Strom and Bradford A. Smith
University of Arizona Press, 2015
Nearly five billion years ago, Earth and Mars were born together as planetary siblings orbiting a young, emerging Sun. Yet today, one planet is water rich and life bearing, while the other is seemingly cold, dry, and forbidding.

Earth and Mars is a fusion of art and science, a blend of images and essays celebrating the successful creation of our life-sustaining planet and the beauty and mystery of Mars. Through images of terrestrial landscapes and photographs selected from recent NASA and European Space Agency missions to Mars, Earth and Mars reveals the profound beauty resulting from the action of volcanism, wind, and water. The accompanying text provides a context for appreciating the role of these elemental forces in shaping the surfaces of each planet, as well as the divergent evolutionary paths that led to an Earth that is teeming with life, and Mars that is seemingly lifeless.

Earth and Mars inspires reflection on the extraordinarily delicate balance of forces that has resulted in our good fortune: to be alive and sentient on a bountiful blue world.

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Foliage Penetration Radar
Detection and characterisation of objects under trees
Mark E. Davis
The Institution of Engineering and Technology, 2011
This book covers all aspects of foliage penetration (FOPEN) radar, concentrating on both airborne military radar systems as well as earth resource mapping radars. It is the first concise and thorough treatment of FOPEN, covering the results of a decade-long investment by DARPA in characterizing foliage and earth surface with ultrawideband UHF and VHF synthetic aperture radar (SAR). Comparisons of the technologies for radar design and signal processing are presented, as are specific design approaches for transmitter design for operation in a dense radio frequency spectrum. Adaptive processing to remove the effects of radio and television signals from the system are also covered. In 10 years, FOPEN systems will find use in crop monitoring, land mine remediation, and creating digital maps under trees. This book will be the foundation for continued research for years to come both for radar and systems engineers in defense and earth resources companies. Government researchers, program managers and planners who have an interest in the unique capabilities of this radar technology, as well as university staff and faculty teaching radar and signal processing will find this book a critical part of their learning for years to come.

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On Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari's What Is Philosophy?
Rodolphe Gasché
Northwestern University Press, 2014
Rodolphe Gasché’s commentary on Deleuze and Guattari’s last book, What Is Philosophy?, homes in on what the two thinkers define as philosophy in distinction from the sciences and the arts and what it is that they understand themselves to have done while doing philosophy. Gasché is concerned with the authors’ claim not only that philosophy is a Greek invention but also that it is, for fundamental reasons, geophilosophical in nature.

Gasché also intimates that, rather than a marginal issue of their conception of philosophy, geocentrism is a central dimension of their thinking. Indeed, Gasché argues, if all the principal traits that constitute philosophy according to What is Philosophy?—autochthony, philia, and doxa—imply in an essential manner a concern with Earth, it follows that what Deleuze and Guattari have been doing while engaging in philosophy has been marked by this concern from the start.

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Jewish Tradition and the Challenge of Darwinism
Edited by Geoffrey Cantor and Marc Swetlitz
University of Chicago Press, 2006

Darwin’s theory of evolution transformed the life sciences and made profound claims about human origins and the human condition, topics often viewed as the prerogative of religion. As a result, evolution has provoked a wide variety of religious responses, ranging from angry rejection to enthusiastic acceptance. While Christian responses to evolution have been studied extensively, little scholarly attention has been paid to Jewish reactions. Jewish Tradition and the Challenge of Darwinism is the first extended meditation on the Jewish engagement with this crucial and controversial theory.

The contributors to Jewish Tradition and the Challenge of Darwinism—from several academic disciplines and two branches of the rabbinate—present case studies showing how Jewish discussions of evolution have been shaped by the intersections of faith, science, philosophy, and ideology in specific historical contexts. Furthermore, they examine how evolutionary theory has been deployed when characterizing Jews as a race, both by Zionists and by anti-Semites. Jewish Tradition and the Challenge of Darwinism addresses historical and contemporary, as well as progressive and Orthodox, responses to evolution in America, Europe, and Israel, ultimately extending the history of Darwinism into new religious domains.


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Life in the Hothouse
How a Living Planet Survives Climate Change
Melanie Lenart
University of Arizona Press, 2010
In this insightful, compelling, and highly readable work, Melanie Lenart, an award-winning journalist and science writer who holds a PhD in Natural Resources and Global Change, examines global warming with the trained eye of a professional scientist. And she presents the science in a clear, straightforward manner. Why does the planet’s warming produce stronger hurricanes, rising seas, and larger floods? Simple, says Lenart. The Earth is just doing what comes naturally. Just as humans produce sweat to cool off on a hot day, the planet produces hurricanes, floods, wetlands, and forests to cool itself off.

Life in the Hothouse incorporates Lenart’s extensive knowledge of climate science—including the latest research in climate change—and the most current scientific theories, including Gaia theory, which holds that the Earth has some degree of climate control “built in.” As Lenart points out, scientists have been documenting stronger hurricanes and larger floods for many years. There is a good reason for this, she notes. Hurricanes help cool the ocean surface and clear the air of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas responsible for global warming. From the perspective of Gaia theory, these responses are helping to slow the ongoing global warming and Lenart expounds upon this in a clear and understandable fashion.

There is hope, Lenart writes. If we help sustain Earth's natural defense systems, including wetlands and forests, perhaps Mother Earth will no longer need to rely as much on the cooling effects of what we call "natural disasters"—many of which carry a human fingerprint. At a minimum, she argues, these systems can help us survive the heat.

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Lord Kelvin and the Age of the Earth
Joe D. Burchfield
University of Chicago Press, 1990
Burchfield charts the enormous impact made by Lord Kelvin's application of thermodynamic laws to the question of the earth's age and the heated debate his ideas sparked among British Victorian physicists, astronomers, geologists, and biologists.

"Anyone interested in geologic time, and that should include all geologists and a fair smattering of biologists, physicists and chemists, should make Burchfield's commendable and time-tested volume part of their personal library"—Brent Darymple, Quartely Review of Biology

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The Mantle of the Earth
Genealogies of a Geographical Metaphor
Veronica della Dora
University of Chicago Press, 2021
The term mantle has inspired philosophers, geographers, and theologians and shaped artists’ and mapmakers’ visual vocabularies for thousands of years. According to Veronica della Dora, mantle is the “metaphor par excellence, for it unfolds between the seen and the unseen as a threshold and as a point of tension.” Featuring numerous illustrations, The Mantle of the Earth: Genealogies of a Geographical Metaphor is an intellectual history of the term mantle and its metaphorical representation in art and literature, geography and cartography. Through the history of this metaphor from antiquity to the modern day, we learn about shifting perceptions and representations of global space, about our planetary condition, and about the nature of geography itself.

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Mother Earth
An American Story
Sam D. Gill
University of Chicago Press, 1987
"The earth is my mother, and on her bosom I shall repose."

Attributed to Tecumseh in the early 1800s, this statement is frequently cited to uphold the view, long and widely proclaimed in scholarly and popular literature, that Mother Earth is an ancient and central Native American figure. In this radical and comprehensive rethinking, Sam D. Gill traces the evolution of female earth imagery in North America from the sixteenth century to the present and reveals how the evolution of the current Mother Earth figure was influenced by prevailing European-American imagery of America and the Indians as well as by the rapidly changing Indian identity.

Gill also analyzes the influential role of scholars in creating and establishing the imagery that underlay the recent origins of Mother Earth and, upon reflection, he raises serious questions about the nature of scholarship.

"Mother Earth might be modern, stressing the supposed biological ground of native life and its rich mythic tradition, but it hardly frees the native people from their long, lamentable involvement with the white man. For making this point clear, Gill deserves high praise."—Bernard W. Sheehan, Journal of the American Academy of Religion

"In one of the finest studies of recent years we have an ambitious attempt to satisfy scholar, Native American, popular reader, and truth."—Thomas McElwain, Western Folklore

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A Natural History of Time
Pascal Richet
University of Chicago Press, 2007

The quest to pinpoint the age of the Earth is nearly as old as humanity itself. For most of history, people trusted mythology or religion to provide the answer, even though nature abounds with clues to the past of the Earth and the stars. In A Natural History of Time, geophysicist Pascal Richet tells the fascinating story of how scientists and philosophers examined those clues and from them built a chronological scale that has made it possible to reconstruct the history of nature itself.

Richet begins his story with mythological traditions, which were heavily influenced by the seasons and almost uniformly viewed time cyclically. The linear history promulgated by Judaism, with its story of creation, was an exception, and it was that tradition that drove early Christian attempts to date the Earth. For instance, in 169 CE, the bishop of Antioch, for instance declared that the world had been in existence for “5,698 years and the odd months and days.”

Until the mid-eighteenth century, such natural timescales derived from biblical chronologies prevailed, but, Richet demonstrates, with the Scientific Revolution geological and astronomical evidence for much longer timescales began to accumulate. Fossils and the developing science of geology provided compelling evidence for periods of millions and millions of years—a scale that even scientists had difficulty grasping. By the end of the twentieth century, new tools such as radiometric dating had demonstrated that the solar system is four and a half billion years old, and the universe itself about twice that, though controversial questions remain.

The quest for time is a story of ingenuity and determination, and like a geologist, Pascal Richet carefully peels back the strata of that history, giving us a chance to marvel at each layer and truly appreciate how far our knowledge—and our planet—have come.


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Nietzsche's Earth
Great Events, Great Politics
Gary Shapiro
University of Chicago Press, 2016
We have Nietzsche to thank for some of the most important accomplishments in intellectual history, but as Gary Shapiro shows in this unique look at Nietzsche’s thought, the nineteenth-century philosopher actually anticipated some of the most pressing questions of our own era. Putting Nietzsche into conversation with contemporary philosophers such as Deleuze, Agamben, Foucault, Derrida, and others, Shapiro links Nietzsche’s powerful ideas to topics that are very much on the contemporary agenda: globalization, the nature of the livable earth, and the geopolitical categories that characterize people and places.
Shapiro explores Nietzsche’s rejection of historical inevitability and its idea of the end of history. He highlights Nietzsche’s prescient vision of today’s massive human mobility and his criticism of the nation state’s desperate efforts to sustain its exclusive rule by declaring emergencies and states of exception. Shapiro then explores Nietzsche’s vision of a transformed garden earth and the ways it sketches an aesthetic of the Anthropocene. He concludes with an explanation of the deep political structure of Nietzsche’s “philosophy of the Antichrist,” by relating it to traditional political theology. By triangulating Nietzsche between his time and ours, between Bismarck’s Germany and post-9/11 America, Nietzsche’s Earth invites readers to rethink not just the philosopher himself but the very direction of human history.

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Orbiting the Sun
Planets and Satellites of the Solar System
Fred L. Whipple
Harvard University Press, 1981

--Spokes and braids in the rings of Saturn
--Eddying currents around Jupiter's Great Red Spot
--Volcanic eruptions on the satellite Io

These are the images from Voyager that have made headlines and captured the public imagination. Now, a giant of twentieth century astronomy guides us on a literary voyage of discovery that retraces the steps of this and other recent space probes--Viking, Mariner, Pioneer, as well as Russian efforts--that have revolutionized our understanding of Earth's nearest neighbors. Every step of the way, Fred Whipple provides the basic foundation in astronomy that enables the reader to be not merely awed and entranced but thoroughly informed, with a solid and satisfying understanding of the workings of our solar system.

In a dazzling combination of text and illustrations, Orbiting the Sun offers vistas that rival science fiction:

--mountains on Mars twice the height of Everest
--thunderstorms and sulfuric acid clouds on Venus
--the possibility of liquid nitrogen oceans on Titan

But the author also explores in precise detail the tests carried out by the Viking Lander that with virtual certainty have ruled out the hope of finding life on Mars.

This completely revised and updated edition of Whipple's classic Earth, Moon, and Planets once again presents Earth within its planetary context. This view allows us to speculate on such provocative concepts as the connection between an asteroid collision and the extinction of the dinosaurs. But the most obvious enhancement of this new edition is the stunning photographs, that include the eerie panorama of the Martian landscape taken from the Viking Landers, the dramatic sweep of Saturn's thousand rings, and full color port raits of the Jovian moons--the battered face of Callisto, Europa with its web of thin scratches, the "superhighways" of Ganymede, and Io with its volcanic plumes.

Fred Whipple has introduced two generations of student and amateur astronomers to the wonders of the solar system. In Orbiting the Sun he will charm and inform an entirely new audience.


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Origin of the Earth and Moon
Edited by R. M. Canup and K. Righter
University of Arizona Press, 2000
The age-old question of how our home planet and its satellite originated has in recent times undergone a minor revolution. The emergence of the "giant impact theory" as the most successful model for the origin of the Moon has been difficult to reconcile with some aspects of the Earth, and the development of an integrated model for the origin of the Earth-Moon system has been difficult for this reason. However, recent technical advances in experimental and isotopic work, together with intensified interest in the modeling of planetary dynamics, have produced a wealth of new results requiring a rethinking of models for the origin of the Earth and Moon.

This book is intended to serve as a resource for those scientists working closely in this field, while at the same time it provides enough balance and depth to offer an introduction for students or technically minded general readers. Its thirty chapters address isotopic and chemical constraints on accretion, the dynamics of terrestrial planet formation, the impact-triggered formation of the Earth-Moon system, differentiation of the Earth and Moon, the origin of terrestrial volatiles, and conditions on the young Earth and Moon.

Covering such subjects as the history and origin of the Moon's orbit, water on the Earth, and the implications of Earth-Moon interactions for terrestrial climate and life, the book constitutes a state-of-the-art overview of the most recent investigations in the field. Although many advances have been made in our ability to evaluate competing models of the formation of the Earth-Moon system, there are still many gaps in our understanding. This book makes great strides toward closing those gaps by highlighting the extensive progress that has been made and pointing toward future research.

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Planet Earth
The View from Space
D. James Baker
Harvard University Press, 1990

Intense heat and drought in the summer of 1988…greenhouse warming…acid rain…the ozone hole…rain forest destruction…Hurricane Hugo… The “endangered Earth” is making headlines around the world, and we are aware as never before of the fragility of the global environment and our own vulnerability to climate change. Yet, despite the technological advances of the last three decades, our knowledge of how the Earth’s systems work and interact remains incomplete at best. To determine environmental policies for the future, we need more information and better global climate models.

In Planet Earth, D. James Baker provides a concise, up-to-date overview of the ongoing international research efforts that will improve our ability to predict global climate change. In straightforward terms, Baker describes remote sensing from space. He reviews extant space-based satellites and their instruments and describes the areas in which operational and research missions are gathering ever-increasing data—on Earth–sun interaction, land vegetation patterns, ocean color, temperature, the atmosphere, the ice sheets of the polar regions, the shape and motion of the Earth’s crust, the Earth’s gravity field—which fill in gaps in our knowledge even as they raise new questions about critical global processes. In view of these questions and the subsequent need for more accurate global models, the satellite networks being planned for the 1990s will require state-of-the-art instrumentation, a new generation of supercomputers, and a high level of international cooperation if they are to succeed. Baker focuses on the United States initiative, Mission to Planet Earth, a long range attempt to study the planet as a whole using polar-orbiting, geostationary, and special orbit satellites coupled with a network of ground stations. In the concluding chapter, the author looks to the next century and examines the difficult long-term problems-of national security, technology transfer, data dissemination, cost, international coordination—that could undermine the achievement of the global operational system he proposes.

Planet Earth is a timely, well-illustrated introduction to Earth-observing satellite technology for the nonspecialist and specialist alike. It distills complex information that is otherwise available only in the technical literature. For those who follow space research, it will prove an indispensable guide.


front cover of Protogaea
Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz
University of Chicago Press, 2008
Protogaea, an ambitious account of terrestrial history, was central to the development of the earth sciences in the eighteenth century and provides key philosophical insights into the unity of Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz’s thought and writings. In the book, Leibniz offers observations about the formation of the earth, the actions of fire and water, the genesis of rocks and minerals, the origins of salts and springs, the formation of fossils, and their identification as the remains of living organisms. Protogaea also includes a series of engraved plates depicting the remains of animals—in particular the famous reconstruction of a “fossil unicorn”—together with a cross section of the cave in which some fossil objects were discovered.

Though the works of Leibniz have been widely translated, Protogaea has languished in its original Latin for centuries. Now Claudine Cohen and Andre Wakefield offer the first English translation of this central text in natural philosophy and natural history. Written between 1691 and 1693, and first published after Leibniz’s death in 1749, Protogaea reemerges in this bilingual edition with an introduction that carefully situates the work within its historical context.

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The Sun in Time
Edited by C. P. Sonett, M. S. Giampapa, and M. S. Matthews
University of Arizona Press, 1991
An interdisciplinary approach to solar physics, as eighty-nine contributors trace the evolution of the Sun and provide a review of our current understanding of both its structure and its role in the origin and evolution of the solar system.

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Terrestrial Lessons
The Conquest of the World as Globe
Sumathi Ramaswamy
University of Chicago Press, 2017
Why and how do debates about the form and disposition of our Earth shape enlightened subjectivity and secular worldliness in colonial modernity? Sumathi Ramaswamy explores this question for British India with the aid of the terrestrial globe, which since the sixteenth century has circulated as a worldly symbol, a scientific instrument, and not least an educational tool for inculcating planetary consciousness.
In Terrestrial Lessons, Ramaswamy provides the first in-depth analysis of the globe’s history in and impact on the Indian subcontinent during the colonial era and its aftermath. Drawing on a wide array of archival sources, she delineates its transformation from a thing of distinction possessed by elite men into that mass-produced commodity used in classrooms worldwide—the humble school globe. Traversing the length and breadth of British India, Terrestrial Lessons is an unconventional history of this master object of pedagogical modernity that will fascinate historians of cartography, science, and Asian studies.

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