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Ted Nield

Supercontinent

The continents are spread around the globe at present, but in a couple of hundred million years it is likely that they will join together to form one giant continent, Novopangaea. In Supercontinent: Ten Billion Years in the Life of Our Planet Ted Nield tells of how the continents come together in this way. Novopangaea of course gets its name from Pangaea, the last such supercontinent, which was here about three hundred million years ago.

People have long suspected that the present day continents aren't the whole story. Nield tells of myths of sunken continents, such as Atlantis, Mu and Lemuria. Alfred Wegener's idea of continental drift took a lot of getting used to though, and Nield gives some fascinating details of the arguments for and against this idea.

A few hundred million years before Pangaea there was another supercontinent Rodinia - possibly responsible for the 'snowball earth' and so indirectly for the Cambrian explosion of life. There were probably several other supercontinents before that. Nield tells of how the continents would have originally formed, and of the different methods used by scientists to deduce how they have moved. The book is written for a non-technical readership, and would of interest to anyone who wants to know about the long history of the earth

Amazon.com info
Hardcover 304 pages  
ISBN: 0674026594
Salesrank: 1801669
Weight:1.3 lbs
Published: 2007 Harvard University Press
Marketplace:New from $25.95:Used from $2.00
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Amazon.co.uk info
Hardcover 352 pages  
ISBN: 1862079439
Salesrank: 106175
Weight:1.5 lbs
Published: 2007 Granta Books
Marketplace:New from £47.05:Used from £0.01
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Amazon.ca info
Hardcover 304 pages  
ISBN: 0674026594
Salesrank: 802686
Weight:1.3 lbs
Published: 2007 Harvard University Press
Marketplace:New from CDN$ 70.48:Used from CDN$ 2.66
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Product Description

To understand continental drift and plate tectonics, the shifting and collisions that make and unmake continents, requires a long view. The Earth, after all, is 4.6 billion years old. This book extends our vision to take in the greatest geological cycle of all—one so vast that our species will probably be extinct long before the current one ends in about 250 million years. And yet this cycle, the grandest pattern in Nature, may well be the fundamental reason our species—or any complex life at all—exists.

This book explores the Supercontinent Cycle from scientists' earliest inkling of the phenomenon to the geological discoveries of today—and from the most recent fusing of all of Earth's landmasses, Pangaea, on which dinosaurs evolved, to the next. Chronicling a 500-million-year cycle, Ted Nield introduces readers to some of the most exciting science of our time. He describes how, long before plate tectonics were understood, geologists first guessed at these vanishing landmasses and came to appreciate the significance of the fusing and fragmenting of supercontinents.

He also uses the story of the supercontinents to consider how scientific ideas develop, and how they sometimes escape the confines of science. Nield takes the example of the recent Indian Ocean tsunami to explain how the whole endeavor of science is itself a supercontinent, whose usefulness in saving human lives, and life on Earth, depends crucially on a freedom to explore the unknown.