deep earth time

deep earth time

Earth’s Deep Time, Helen Gordon – Quanto Editions, September 2022 – 360 pages

The history of the Earth is all around us, without us paying attention to it. It can be sensed in the curves of the mountains, the subtleties of the vegetation, the marble and limestone of our cities. Geology is the open door to the infinity of time and space, and the dust of the moments of our existence.
Writer and journalist Helen Gordon invites us to discover deep time, which is counted in millions of years. In this sensitive book, praised by the public and critics, we follow her on her journey through the landscapes of Europe and North America, through her meetings with glaciologists, paleontologists and seismologists. From the fossilized remains of the oldest known forest to the silent threat of the San Andreas Fault, from the search for meteorites as old as the Sun to the colors of dinosaurs, at every turn the past emerges so dizzyingly that our minds struggle to formalize it. Just like the distant future, which raises the question of the traces we will leave with our passing.

This book is a a big trip temporal. We embark ten thousand years ago in England, which was still a peninsula connected to the continent, in order to explore different geological periods according to the intuition and personal testimonies of naturalists. We uncover the mysteries of glaciology, sedimentology, tectonics, volcanism, biology, paleontology, and even linguistics!

We follow Helen Gordon in this “deep time” juggling hundreds of thousands, millions and billions of years for a time vertigo. Vertigo that suddenly emphasizes the smallness of human bodies, the size of the world. ” A destabilizing feeling, but also invigorating. Like when you look into the starry sky or into the depths of the Mariana Trench. Or in the infinity of deep time where all those ancient worlds hover out of your sight, momentarily obscured by the daily routine and persistent urgency of the present, waiting to be brought back into the light.. »

A magnificent essay that, like a saga, takes us to our time in the Anthropocene, which would ” it began in 1784, according to Paul Crutzen, the date of the invention of the steam locomotive by James Watt and the beginning of the significant increase in CO2 emissions associated with the industrial revolution. »

Helen GORDON is a journalist. He writes about nature and science for various newspapers and magazines, including Economist, guardian etc Wired.

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