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Sioux Falls Scientists endorse The Origin and Evolution of Earth for
taking us from the big bang, through the evolution of earth
into a livable planet, and into a glimpse of the future.

The Origin and Evolution of Earth:
From the Big Bang to the
Future of Human Existence
Lectures by Professor Robert M. Hazen

The Origin and Evolution of Earth (2013) - 48 lectures, 24 hours
The Origin and Evolution of Earth at TheGreatCourses.com

The story of Earth is an epic filled with crises, catastrophes, and remarkable, repeated change. Earth traces its origin to simple atoms that were created in the big bang, transformed into heavy elements in stellar explosions, and then forged into a planet inside the nebula that gave birth to the solar system. Like many other planets, Earth went through phases of melting, volcanism, and bombardment by asteroids. But only on Earth did events lead to a flourishing biosphere - life. And once life was established, it drove the evolution of our planet in startling new directions.

Most amazing of all, the evidence for every step in this intricate process is all around us - in the thousands of minerals in rocks above and below ground. Consider these intriguing clues:

  • Diamonds: Created under extreme pressure, diamond may very well be the first mineral formed in the universe. Together with a dozen other minerals, it helped seed the solar nebula with dust that became the planets.
  • Great Oxidation Event: Earth's iron deposits are a relic of the earliest photosynthetic life, which introduced large amounts of oxygen into the atmosphere, promoting the oxidation of rocks and the production of metal-rich minerals.
  • Plate tectonics: Many distinctive minerals are associated with plate tectonics, the ceaseless motion of Earth's crustal plates for more than 3 billion years. This process has had a profound impact on climate, the atmosphere, the oceans, and the development of life.
  • Cambrian explosion: Changes over billions of years led to altered mineral chemistry in the oceans that made animal shells, bones, and teeth possible. Life exploited these structures in a burst of evolution 540 million years ago called the Cambrian explosion.

Minerals are fundamental to the story of Earth in many ways. Not only are we living beings nourished by minerals, but minerals provide the resources and energy that are crucial to modern civilization. Beyond that, the evolution of minerals has played a central role all across the surface of the planet and throughout its interior. Minerals turn out to be much more than beautiful crystals; they provide outstanding clues to our origins and they are major players in a drama of unimaginable scope.

The Origin and Evolution of Earth: From the Big Bang to the Future of Human Existence lets you experience firsthand the thrill of piecing together the epic story of Earth in an enlightening new perspective. In 48 half-hour lectures available in both video and audio formats, you follow events from the big bang to the formation of Earth to the many twists and turns in our planet's evolution. You discover how a young universe populated with only a few elements became a cosmos of infinite variety characterized by life - thanks to minerals. Your professor is the noted scientist who pioneered the study of mineral evolution, Professor Robert M. Hazen of George Mason University and the Carnegie Institution's Geophysical Laboratory.

A prominent field geologist, laboratory mineralogist, collector, popular author, and award-winning teacher, Professor Hazen is also a nationally recognized advocate for science education and the perfect guide for an in-depth investigation of breakthrough scientific concepts. In a course suitable for scientists and nonscientists alike, he recounts Earth's story through 10 stages of mineral evolution. Each stage resculpted our planet's surface, introducing new planetary processes and phenomena. By stage 6, life was an integral part of this process, and you learn that life is ultimately responsible for almost two-thirds of the mineral species on Earth - thousands of unique crystals that could only exist on a living world.

A New Way of Looking at Our Planet

Professor Robert M. Hazen is the Clarence J. Robinson Professor of Earth Sciences at George Mason University, a Senior Staff Scientist at the Carnegie Institution's Geophysical Laboratory, and founding Executive Director of the Sloan Foundation's Deep Carbon Observatory project. He is an award-winning educator and coauthor of Science Matters: Achieving Scientific Literacy and The Sciences: An Integrated Approach. Professor Hazen has been praised by The New York Times for writing "with wonderful clarity about science"; his most recent book is The Story of Earth: The First 4.5 Billion Years, from Stardust to Living Planet.

48 Lectures - 30 minutes each

1: Mineralogy and a New View of Earth 25: Plate Tectonics Changes Everything
2: Origin and Evolution of the Early Universe 26: Geochemistry to Biochemistry - Raw Materials
3: Origins of the Elements - Nucleosynthesis 27: Biomolecules - Select, Concentrate, Assemble
4: Ur-Minerals, First Crystals in the Cosmos 28: Why Reproduction? World Enough and Time
5: Presolar Dust Grains - Chemistry Begins 29: Eons, Eras, and Strategies of Early Life
6: Coming to Grips with Deep Time 30: Red Earth - The Great Oxidation Event
7: The Birth of the Solar System 31: Earliest Microbial and Molecular Fossils?
8: The Early Solar System - Terrestrial Planets 32: Microbial Mats and Which Minerals Can Form
9: Hints from the Gas Giants and Their Moons 33: Earth's Greatest Mineral Explosion
10: Meteorites - The Oldest Objects You Can Hold 34: The Boring Billion? Cratons and Continents
11: Mineral Evolution, Go! Chondrite Meteorites 35: The Supercontinent Cycle
12: Meteorite Types and Planetesimals 36: Feedback Loops and Tipping Points
13: Achondrites and Geochemical Affinities 37: Snowball Earth and Hothouse Earth
14: The Accretion and Differentiation of Earth 38: The Second Great Oxidation Event
15: How Did the Moon Form? 39: Deep Carbon - Deep Life, Fuels, and Methane
16: The Big Thwack! 40: Biominerals and Early Animals
17: The "Big Six" Elements of Early Earth 41: Between Rodinia and Pangaea - Plants on Land
18: The Black Earth - Peridotite to Basalt 42: Life Speeds Up - Oxygen and Climate Swings
19: Origins of the Oceans 43: From the "Great Dying" to Dinosaurs
20: Blue Earth and the Water Cycle 44: Impact! From Dinosaurs to Mammals
21: Earth and Mars versus Mercury and the Moon 45: Humans and the Anthropocene Epoch
22: Gray Earth - Clays and the Rise of Granite 46: The Next 5 Billion Years
23: Earth's Mineralogy Takes Off - Pegmatites 47: The Nearer Future
24: Moving Continents and the Rock Cycle 48: Coevolution of Geosphere and Biosphere


The Origin and Evolution of Earth:
From the Big Bang to the
Future of Human Existence
Lectures by Professor Robert M. Hazen

Sioux Falls Scientists endorse The Origin and Evolution of Earth for
taking us from the big bang, through the evolution of earth
into a livable planet, and into a glimpse of the future.