Biography of the Earth

By George Gamow
THE author, who is Professor of Theoretical Physics at George Washington University, here undertakes to make accessible to the lowly common reader the current findings of astrophysics, geology, and paleontology about this earth, with so much information about our celestial neighbors as is required to make these findings lucid. At one end of the story there is the planetary accident that produced, some two billion years ago, what is here styled ‘ the blessed event’; at the other end is a forecast of the probable future, including the obliteration of organic life by a multiplication of solar luminosity and the eventual ‘catastrophic collapse’ of the sun about 10,000,000,000 A.D. One does not know what professional colleagues are going to think of this popularization, but many laymen will seize upon it with gratitude, for its combination of text, halftone, and diagram really does bring one measurably nearer to a comprehension of mysteries and magnitudes that are ordinarily presented in a way to terrify and paralyze. This short book circumvents terror and paralysis — yet without in any wise lessening awe — by giving us the universe in terms in which the untutored mind can think: e.g., with the stars reduced to grains of sand moving each at a rate of some ten millimetres a year through a universe so thinly populated that there is only one of these sand-stars in four kilometres of space.
W. F.