A Most Improbable Journey: A Big History of Our Planet and Ourselves

By Walter Alvarez
Read by Adam Verner

6.09 Hours 11/15/2016 unabridged
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    ISBN: 9781520046426

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Famed geologist Walter Alvarez expands our view of human history by revealing the cosmic, geologic, and evolutionary forces that have shaped us. One in a million doesn’t even come close. Not when we’re talking about the odds that you would happen to be alive today, on this particular planet, hurtling through space. Almost fourteen billion years of cosmic history, over four billion years of Earth history, a couple million years of human history, the rise and fall of nations, the unbroken string of generations necessary to lead to you―it’s staggering to consider. Yet behind everything in our world, from the phone in your pocket to even the force of gravity itself, lies a similarly grand procession of highly improbable events. This panoramic viewpoint has captured the imagination of historians and scientists alike, and together they’ve created a new field―Big History―that integrates traditional historical scholarship with scientific insights to study the full sweep of our universe and its past. Famed geologist Walter Alvarez―best known for the impact theory explaining dinosaur extinction―has championed a science-first approach to Big History, and A Most Improbable Journey is one of the first Big History books to be written by a scientist rather than a historian. Alvarez brings his unique expertise and infectious curiosity to give us a new appreciation for the incredible occurrences―from the Big Bang to the formation of supercontinents, the dawn of the Bronze Age, and beyond―that have led to our improbable place in the universe

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Summary

Summary

Famed geologist Walter Alvarez expands our view of human history by revealing the cosmic, geologic, and evolutionary forces that have shaped us.

One in a million doesn’t even come close.

Not when we’re talking about the odds that you would happen to be alive today, on this particular planet, hurtling through space. Almost fourteen billion years of cosmic history, over four billion years of Earth history, a couple million years of human history, the rise and fall of nations, the unbroken string of generations necessary to lead to you―it’s staggering to consider. Yet behind everything in our world, from the phone in your pocket to even the force of gravity itself, lies a similarly grand procession of highly improbable events.

This panoramic viewpoint has captured the imagination of historians and scientists alike, and together they’ve created a new field―Big History―that integrates traditional historical scholarship with scientific insights to study the full sweep of our universe and its past.

Famed geologist Walter Alvarez―best known for the impact theory explaining dinosaur extinction―has championed a science-first approach to Big History, and A Most Improbable Journey is one of the first Big History books to be written by a scientist rather than a historian. Alvarez brings his unique expertise and infectious curiosity to give us a new appreciation for the incredible occurrences―from the Big Bang to the formation of supercontinents, the dawn of the Bronze Age, and beyond―that have led to our improbable place in the universe

Editorial Reviews

Editorial Reviews

“Evocative…Alvarez [enables] readers to experience the power of Big History.” Science
“[An] enthusiastic, clearly written tour of contingencies that have shaped our world…A compelling case for Big History as a fun, perspective-stretching exercise―a way to dust off familiar topics and make them sparkle.” Science News
“Alvarez is at ease writing about geology…[and] the science is impeccable.” Kirkus Reviews
“Geologist Walter Alvarez considers ‘big history’ as he links humanity to the chain of events that the big bang began, all leading to you. Adam Verner sounds amazed as he narrates both the science and the more human parts. Each facet of the discussion includes relatable anecdotes, such as one about the life of a mule skinner involved in building the Mount Wilson Observatory who eventually earned an honorary doctorate for his observations there. Verner’s lively narration infuses topics that are often dry with energy. He even has fun with humorous material such as a comparison of nature’s formations of mountains to the making of a very sloppy sandwich.” AudioFile

Reviews

Reviews

Author

Author Bio: Walter Alvarez

Walter Alvarez, a professor of geology at the University of California, Berkeley, is one of the founding members of the International Big History Association. He was awarded the 2002 Penrose Medal, the top honor in geology, and is the author of The Mountains of St. Francis and the bestselling T. rex and the Crater of Doom.

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Details

Details

Available Formats : Digital Download
Category: Nonfiction/Science
Runtime: 6.09
Audience: Adult
Language: English