The Earth: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Martin Redfern

Publisher: OUP Oxford

ISBN: 9780191577741

Category: Science

Page: 160

View: 9319

For generations, the ground beneath the feet of our ancestors seemed solid and unchanging. Around 30 years ago, two things happened that were to revolutionize the understanding of our home planet. First, geologists realized that the continents themselves were drifting across the surface of the globe and that oceans were being created and destroyed. Secondly, pictures of the entire planet were returned from space. As the astronomer Fred Hoyle had predicted, this 'let loose an idea as powerful as any in history'. Suddenly, the Earth began to be viewed as a single entity; a dynamic, interacting whole, controlled by complex processes we scarcely understood. It began to seem less solid. As one astronaut put it, 'a blue jewel on black velvet; small, fragile and touchingly alone'. Geologists at last were able to see the whole as well as the detail; the wood as well as the trees. This book brings their account up to date with the latest understanding of the processes that govern our planet. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
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Earth System Science

A Very Short Introduction

Author: Tim Lenton

Publisher: Oxford University Press

ISBN: 019871887X

Category:

Page: 144

View: 711

When humanity first glimpsed planet Earth from space, the unity of the system that supports humankind entered the popular consciousness. The concept of the Earth's atmosphere, biosphere, oceans, soil, and rocks operating as a closely interacting system has rapidly gained ground in science. This new field, involving geographers, geologists, biologists, oceanographers, and atmospheric physicists, is known as Earth System Science. In this Very Short Introduction, Tim Lenton considers how a world in which humans could evolve was created; how, as a species, we are now reshaping that world; and what a sustainable future for humanity within the Earth System might look like. Drawing on elements of geology, biology, chemistry, physics, and mathematics, Lenton asks whether Earth System Science can help guide us onto a sustainable course before we alter the Earth system to the point where we destroy ourselves and our current civilisation. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
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Geophysics

Author: William Lowrie

Publisher: Oxford University Press

ISBN: 0198792956

Category: Mathematics

Page: 160

View: 8604

Geophysics is the physics of the Earth. Central to the Earth Sciences today, it encompasses areas such as seismology, volcanism, plate tectonics, gravitational anomalies, and the Earth's magnetic field (present and past, as captured in rocks), all of which give clues to both the structure and the working of the Earth. In this Very Short Introduction, William Lowrie describes the internal and external processes that affect the planet, as well as the principles and methods of geophysics used to investigate them. He explains how analysis of the seismic waves produced in earthquakes reveals the internal structure of the Earth. Geophysicists have established that the greatest source of energy powering geological processes is the Earth's internal heat. Deep inside the Earth, the temperature is high enough to produce a fluid outer core of molten iron. It is the motion in this molten iron layer that produces the Earth's magnetic field, which shields the planet against harmful radiation from the Sun and outer space, and thus makes the planet habitable. Lowrie describes how the magnetic field also magnetizes rocks during their formation, leaving a permanent record of the ancient field and its direction that geophysicists have learned to use to interpret past motions of the continents and tectonic plates. From analyzes of Earth's deepest interior to measurements made from Earth-orbiting satellites, Lowrie shows how geophysical exploration is vitally important in the search for mineral resources, and emphasizes our need to understand the history of our planet and the processes that govern its continuing evolution. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
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The Atmosphere: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Paul I. Palmer

Publisher: Oxford University Press

ISBN: 0191030759

Category: Science

Page: 144

View: 2264

The atmosphere is the thin, diffuse fluid that envelops the Earth's surface. Despite its apparent fragility, the existence of this fluid is vital for human and other life on Earth. In this Very Short Introduction Paul Palmer describes the physical and chemical characteristics of different layers in the atmosphere, and shows how the interactions where the atmosphere is in contact with land, ocean, and ice affect its observed physical and chemical properties. He also looks at how movement in the atmosphere, driven by heat from the sun, transports heat from lower latitudes to higher latitudes, and is a fundamental feature of the general circulation in the atmosphere. Finally, Palmer presents an overview of the types of measurements used to understand different parts of the atmosphere, and identifies the future challenges for atmospheric scientists. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
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Global Catastrophes: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Bill McGuire

Publisher: OUP Oxford

ISBN: 0191577995

Category: Nature

Page: 152

View: 1379

Life on earth will come to an end. It's just a matter of when. Global Catastrophes: A Very Short Introduction focuses on the many potential catastrophes facing our planet and our species in the future, and looks at both the probability of these events happening and our chances of survival. Coverage extends from discussion of the likely consequences of the current global warming to the inevitable destruction of the earth in the far future, when it is enveloped by our giant, bloated sun. In between, other 'end of the world scenarios' will be examined, including the New Ice Age, asteroid and comet impact, supervolcanoes, and mega-tsunami. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
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Mountains: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Martin F. Price

Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA

ISBN: 0199695881

Category: Science

Page: 152

View: 1790

"Looks at both the regional and global effects of mountains on climate and ecosystems. Considers the value of mountains to humanity, as centres of biological and cultural diversity, religious sanctuaries, sources of food, timber, and medicines, and major centres for tourism. Discusses the impact of climate change on mountains, and considers how this affects the people who rely on mountains for their livelihood or culture"--Publisher's description.
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Minerals

A Very Short Introduction

Author: David Vaughan

Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA

ISBN: 0199682844

Category: Science

Page: 137

View: 2170

Minerals existed long before any forms of life, playing a key role in the origin and evolution of life; an interaction with biological systems that we are only now beginning to understand. Exploring the traditional strand of mineralogy, which emphasises the important mineral families, the well-established analytical methods (optical microscopy and X-ray diffraction) and the dramatic developments made in techniques over recent decades, David Vaughan also introduces the modern strand of mineralogy, which explores the role minerals play in the plate tectonic cycle and how they interact with the living world. Demonstrating how minerals can be critical for human health and illness by providing essential nutrients and releasing poisons, Vaughan explores the multitude of ways in which minerals have aided our understanding of the world. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
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Stars: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Andrew King

Publisher: OUP Oxford

ISBN: 0191633844

Category: Science

Page: 136

View: 3319

Every atom of our bodies has been part of a star. Our very own star, the Sun, is crucial to the development and sustainability of life on Earth. This Very Short Introduction presents a modern, authoritative examination of how stars live, producing all the chemical elements beyond helium, and how they die, sometimes spectacularly, to end as remnants such as black holes. Andrew King shows how understanding the stars is key to understanding the galaxies they inhabit, and thus the history of our entire Universe, as well as the existence of planets like our own. King presents a fascinating exploration of the science of stars, from the mechanisms that allow stars to form and the processes that allow them to shine, as well as the results of their inevitable death. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
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Anthropocene

Author: Erle C. Ellis

Publisher: Oxford University Press

ISBN: 0198792980

Category: NATURE

Page: 208

View: 2159

Climate scientists, geologists, ecologists, and archaeologists recognize the profound effects of human activity on Earth, though whether and how this should be recognized as a formal geological epoch - the Anthropocene - remains under debate, Erle Ellis describes how the Anthropocene concept is affecting the sciences, humanities, and politics.
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Symmetry: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Ian Stewart

Publisher: OUP Oxford

ISBN: 0199651981

Category: Mathematics

Page: 160

View: 6189

Symmetry is an immensely important concept in mathematics and throughout the sciences. In this Very Short Introduction, Ian Stewart highlights the deep implications of symmetry and its important scientific applications across the entire subject.
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Telescopes: a Very Short Introduction

Author: Geoffrey Cottrell

Publisher: Oxford University Press

ISBN: 0198745869

Category: Science

Page: 152

View: 6536

From the first, telescopes have made dramatic revelations about the Universe and our place in it. Galileo's observations of the Moon's cratered surface and discovery of Jupiter's four big satellites profoundly altered the perception of the heavens, overturning a two-thousand year cosmologythat held the Earth to be the centre of the Universe. Over the past century, the rapid development of computer technology and sophisticated materials allowed enormous strides in the construction of telescopes. Modern telescopes range from large Earth-based optical telescopes and radio arrays linkingup across continents, to space-based telescopes capturing the Universe in infrared, ultraviolet, X-rays, and gamma rays. In combination, they have enabled us to look deep into the Universe and far back in time, capturing phenomena from galactic collisions to the formation of stars and planetarysystems, and mapping the faint glow remaining from the Big Bang. In this Very Short Introduction, Dr. Geoff Cottrell describes the basic physics of telescopes, the challenges of overcoming turbulence and distortion from the Earth's atmosphere, and the special techniques used to capture X-rays and gamma rays in space telescopes. He explains the crucialdevelopments in detectors and spectrographs that have enabled the high resolution achieved by modern telescopes, and the hopes for the new generation of telescopes currently being built across the world. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, andenthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
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Astrobiology: A Very Short Introduction

Author: David C. Catling

Publisher: Oxford University Press

ISBN: 0199586454

Category: Science

Page: 142

View: 8813

Examines the origins of life on Earth and the search for extraterrestrial life, through an understanding of the factors that have allowed life to exist on this planet and the commonalities on others that may enable life elsewhere.
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The History of Physics: A Very Short Introduction

Author: J. L. Heilbron

Publisher: Oxford University Press

ISBN: 0191507040

Category: Science

Page: 184

View: 3206

How does the physics we know today - a highly professionalised enterprise, inextricably linked to government and industry - link back to its origins as a liberal art in Ancient Greece? What is the path that leads from the old philosophy of nature and its concern with humankind's place in the universe to modern massive international projects that hunt down fundamental particles and industrial laboratories that manufacture marvels? This Very Short Introduction introduces us to Islamic astronomers and mathematicians calculating the size of the earth whilst their caliphs conquered much of it; to medieval scholar-theologians investigating light; to Galileo, Copernicus, Kepler, and Newton, measuring, and trying to explain, the universe. We visit the 'House of Wisdom' in 9th-century Baghdad; Europe's first universities; the courts of the Renaissance; the Scientific Revolution and the academies of the 18th century; and the increasingly specialised world of 20th and 21st century science. Highlighting the shifting relationship between physics, philosophy, mathematics, and technology - and the implications for humankind's self-understanding - Heilbron explores the changing place and purpose of physics in the cultures and societies that have nurtured it over the centuries. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
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Geography: A Very Short Introduction

Author: John A. Matthews,David T. Herbert

Publisher: Oxford University Press

ISBN: 0199211280

Category: History

Page: 181

View: 6574

Modern Geography has come a long way from its roots in simply mapping and naming the regions of the world. Spanning both physical and human Geography, the discipline today is unique as a subject bridging the divide between the sciences and humanities, and between the environment and our society. This Very Short Introduction reveals why.
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Rocks: a Very Short Introduction

Author: Jan Zalasiewicz

Publisher: Oxford University Press

ISBN: 0198725191

Category: Science

Page: 144

View: 917

Rocks, more than anything else, underpin our lives. They make up the solid structure of the Earth and of other rocky planets, and are present at the cores of gas giant planets. We live on the rocky surface of the planet, grow our food on weathered debris derived from rocks, and we obtain nearly all of the raw materials with which we found our civilization from rocks. From the Earth's crust to building bricks, rocks contain our sense of planetary history, and are a guide to our future. In this Very Short Introduction Jan Zalsiewicz looks at the nature and variety of rocks, and the processes by which they are formed. Starting from the origin of rocks and their key role in the formation of the Earth, he considers what we know about the deep rocks of the mantle and core, and what rocks can tell us about the evolution of the Earth, and looks at those found in outer space and on other planets. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
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Isotopes

A Very Short Introduction

Author: Rob Ellam

Publisher: Oxford University Press

ISBN: 0198723628

Category: Science

Page: 144

View: 370

An isotope is a variant form of a chemical element, containing a different number of neutrons in its nucleus. Most elements exist as several isotopes. Many are stable while others are radioactive, and some may only exist fleetingly before decaying into other elements. In this Very Short Introduction, Rob Ellam explains how isotopes have proved enormously important across all the sciences and in archaeology. Radioactive isotopes may be familiar from their use in nuclear weapons, nuclear power, and in medicine, as well as in carbon dating. They have been central to establishing the age of the Earth and the origins of the solar system. Combining previous and new research, Ellam provides an overview of the nature of stable and radioactive isotopes, and considers their wide range of modern applications. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
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The Ice Age

A Very Short Introduction

Author: Jamie Woodward

Publisher: Oxford University Press

ISBN: 0199580693

Category: History

Page: 163

View: 6985

"In an era of warming climate, the study of the ice age past is now more important than ever. This book examines the wonders of the Quaternary ice age - to show how ice age landscapes and ecosystems were repeatedly and rapidly transformed as plants, animals, and humans reorganized their worlds." --Publisher.
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Mao: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Delia Davin

Publisher: OUP Oxford

ISBN: 0191654035

Category: Political Science

Page: 144

View: 3105

As a giant of 20th century history, Mao Zedong played many roles: peasant revolutionary, patriotic leader against the Japanese occupation, Marxist theoretician, modernizer, and visionary despot. This Very Short Introduction chronicles Mao's journey from peasant child to ruler of the most populous nation on Earth. He was a founder of both the Chinese Communist Party and the Red Army, and for many years he fought on two fronts, for control of the Party and in an armed struggle for the Party's control of the country. His revolution unified China and began its rise to world power status. He was the architect of the Great Leap Forward that he hoped would make China both prosperous and egalitarian, but instead ended in economic disaster resulting in millions of deaths. It was Mao's growing suspicion of his fellow leaders that led him to launch the Cultural Revolution, and his last years were dogged by ill-health and his despairing attempts to find a successor whom he trusted. Delia Davin provides an invaluable introduction to Mao, showing him in all his complexity; ruthless, brutal, and ambitious, a man of enormous talent and perception, yet a leader who is still detested by some and venerated by others. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
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Bacteria: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Sebastian G. B. Amyes

Publisher: OUP Oxford

ISBN: 0191654086

Category: Medical

Page: 144

View: 5368

Bacteria form a fundamental branch of life. They are the oldest forms of life as we know it, and they are still the most prolific living organisms. They inhabit every part of the Earth's surface, its ocean depths, and even terrains such as boiling hot springs. They are most familiar as agents of disease, but benign bacteria are critical to the recycling of elements and all ecology, as well as to human health. In this Very Short Introduction, Sebastian Amyes explores the nature of bacteria, their origin and evolution, bacteria in the environment, and bacteria and disease. In looking at our efforts to manage co-evolving bacteria, he also considers the challenges of resistance to antibiotics. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
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Paganism: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Owen Davies

Publisher: OUP Oxford

ISBN: 0191620017

Category: Religion

Page: 160

View: 5650

'Paganism' is an evocative word that, even today, conjures up deep-seated emotions and prejudices. Until recently, it was primarily a derogatory term used by Christians to describe the non-Christian cultures confronted and vanquished by their Churches. For some it evokes images of sacrifice and barbaric behaviour, while for others it symbolises a peace-loving, nature-worshipping spiritual relationship with the earth. This Very Short Introduction explores the meaning of paganism - through a chronological overview of the attitudes towards its practices and beliefs - from the ancient world through to the present day. Owen Davies largely looks at paganism through the eyes of the Christian world, and how, over the centuries, notions and representations of its nature were shaped by religious conflict, power struggles, colonialism, and scholarship. Despite the expansion of Christianity and Islam, Pagan cultures continue to exist around the world, whilst in the West new formations of paganism constitute one of the fastest-growing religions. Focussing on paganism in Europe, but exploring the nature of paganism globally, Davies looks at how Europeans discovered new cultures through colonial expansion, missionary work, and anthropological study. Contemporary social paganism can be a liberating and social force, and the idea of a global Pagan theology is now on the religious map. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
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