Tag Archives: Darwin

Ancient earth. 1 A time-line for the first 4 billion years

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A time-line for the first 4 billion years of Earth history

The Cambrian, that relatively brief period in geological history (40 odd million years) was witness to one of the most amazing series of biological events in the entire history of the Earth; the rapid, almost explosive appearance of marine critters with preservable shells and skeletons – a real first.  Trilobites are probably the best known fossils from that period, but there are also some pretty weird and wonderful looking soft-bodied creatures (one famous fossil locality is the Burgess Shale near the town of Field, British Columbia).  Most animal life today can track its origin to those early life forms.  These events began about 540 million years ago (how easy these numbers roll off the tongue, or pen).  But we also know that our Earth is pretty close to 4600 million years old (4.6 billion – How old is Earth); in other words there is almost 4 billion years, a humongous period of time in which, seemingly, not much happened.  4000 million years worth of boredom!  This period is know as the “Pre” Cambrian, or Precambrian.  Most Precambrian events did take place pretty slowly, but these events also determined the kind of world we now live in: the air we breath, the oceans and rivers, the biosphere and indeed life itself, all originated and evolved over this, the deepest of geological time. Continue reading

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Science in a Social Context

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timeline peopleScience in a Social Context, 1859 to 1920

I have created this Science in Context chart, partly because I am interested in the links, or the possibility of links among Science and other human endeavours like art, politics and so on. Science has never taken place in a vacuum; people who have conducted scientific investigations have had affiliations with or have needed to react to political or religious forces that helped shape our world – in some cases reacting simply to survive the vagaries of current ideologies. Science during the Renaissance and Enlightenment was often in conflict with prevailing religious dogmas. Thomas Kuhn, scientist and philosopher (of paradigm fame), would argue that this “tension” between science and the Church was crucial to the advancement of science in the Western, predominantly European world. In contrast to this often brutal conflict, eastern religions tended to coexist more harmoniously with their scientific cousins.

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