One Long Experiment: Scale and Process in Human History

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Addressing the history of the earth in terms of geological process and the resolution of the fossil record, Ronald Martin presents a report on the current state of knowledge on a group of interconnected themes - process, scale and hierarchy, and the methodologies of historical sciences. He examines several questions about geological history: What is the evidence for processes that occur over long periods of geologic history? Why are these long term earth processes significant to the human race? How does one test hypotheses using the fossil record? And what, at the present rate of knowledge, are the limits of that record? As Martin explains, the project of the geologist is to interpret natural phenomena by integrating data into large contexts and constructing a historical narrative. Through the critical examination of these narratives, geologists can determine how the earth evolved into its present state. However, the scale employed in measurement can cause wide variations in the results of any inquiry into geologic process. Martin addresses a wide range of topics, including taphonomy, bioturbation, cycles of carbon dioxide, global cooling, and extinction. He supplements the theatrical framework with explanations of concepts and definitions of key terminology.

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Columbia University Press
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