From Stone to Star: A View of Modern Geology

From Stone to Star: A View of Modern Geology
by Claude Allegre and translated by Deborah Kurmes Van Dam

Harvard University Press
0-674-83866-1; 0-674-83867-X (paper)
Bibliography; Index
C, GA **


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Allegre's concise volume is an important contribution in the science community's attempt to help the public understand and appreciate modern science. After a short introductory chapter on classical geology, he introduces the reader to the "new geology" that emerged from the study of the internal structure of the earth and the generation of a calendar of geologic time--the first extending geology's spatial dimension, the second amplifying its time dimension. This is followed by an introduction to meteoritics, an account of humankind's exploration of the planets, and a review of the development of our understanding of the evolution of the solar system. A description and interpretation of the cosmic distribution of chemical elements includes an outline of what Allegre characterizes as the "meteoritic palimpsest." In the penultimate chapter, "Societies of Atoms," he discusses the relationship between the chemical composition of the universe and that of the earth. The book ends with a chapter called "The Kingdom of Water," which includes a global account of the water cycle, sediment cycles and the sedimentary record, atmosphere-ocean interactions, and biogeology. The book is fresh in its approach and an important contribution to the field of geology. It would be even better if it had a short, integrative closing chapter.

--Reviewed by Kenneth G. Johnson in Science Books and Films, 28/6 (August/September 1992), p. 166.