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Earth: Evolution of a Habitable World


By: Jonathan I Lunine (Author)

334 pages, 16 plates with colour photos and colour illustrations; b/w photos, b/w illustrations, tables

Cambridge University Press

Paperback | May 2013 | Edition: 2 | #203023 | ISBN-13: 9780521615198
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £44.99 $55/€51 approx
Hardback | May 2013 | Edition: 2 | #203022 | ISBN-13: 9780521850018
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £79.99 $98/€90 approx

About this book

Fully updated throughout, including revised illustrations and new images from NASA missions, this new edition provides an overview of Earth's history from a planetary science perspective for Earth science undergraduates. Earth's evolution is described in the context of what we know about other planets and the cosmos at large, from the origin of the cosmos to the processes that shape planetary environments and from the origins of life to the inner workings of cells. Astronomy, Earth science, planetary science and astrobiology are integrated to give students the whole picture of how the Earth has come to its present state and an understanding of the relationship between key ideas in different fields. Earth: Evolution of a Habitable World presents concepts in nontechnical language and mathematical treatments are avoided where possible. New end-of-chapter summaries and questions allow students to check their understanding and critical thinking is emphasized to encourage students to explore ideas scientifically for themselves.

"The keenly awaited second edition of Lunine's book does not disappoint. The clarity of writing and level of scholarship remain high, and there is no other treatment of our planet with this interdisciplinary breadth. As we home in on Earth-like worlds far from home, this book is a perfect component for an undergraduate astronomy or astrobiology course."
– Chris Impey, University Distinguished Professor, University of Arizona

"Lunine focusses on the Earth as a system, and sets it in context in comparison with other Solar System bodies. This is how a geoscience text should be done these days."
– David A. Rothery, The Open University

"Earth: Evolution of a Habitable World brings the knowledge gained by 50 years of Solar System exploration back to Earth and infuses the often hazy first half of Earth history with new energy and insight, providing a unique perspective on the entire history of our home planet."
– James Head, Louis and Elizabeth Scherck Distinguished Professor of Geological Sciences, Brown University

"Lunine's astrobiological perspective on Earth history is a breath of fresh air, drawing on the entire breadth of science to address fundamental questions about the origins of life, and the development of the systems that sustain it here on Earth, in a manner that quickly and directly connects to students."
– Marshall Bartlett, Chair of Physics, Hollins University

" [...] I've never seen anything quite like it [...] This would be a spectacular text for a course providing a perspective on Earth and planetary science and modern issues in our stewardship of the Earth for students majoring in fields outside the geosciences [...] It could even give geology students perspective on the 'deep time' that is beyond the vast majority of Earth's geologic record, and on Earth's place in the solar system [...] Jonathan Lunine is a scientist who knows his planetary climates, having studied atmospheres of worlds inside and outside our solar system, and who has done lots of recent work on astrobiology."
– Emily Lakdawalla, The Planetary Society (

"Earth: Evolution of a Habitable World succeeds remarkably in providing a well-balanced, enjoyable, and crystal clear summary of a broad set of topics that together introduce Earth and life in its complexity and interconnectedness. The book is rich in up-to-date research and it simultaneously provides a breadth and depth that are unmatched – students, interested laymen, and researchers will all enjoying reading it. What set[s] Lunine's text apart from the increasing number of great astrobiology books [is] the unmatched clarity of the text, its logical and well-balanced structure, and the surprising level of detail that the book succeeds in providing over the breadth of topics covered. Earth: Evolution of a Habitable World is an excellent book for geosciences, planetary sciences, and astrobiology – it is set to be a classic, like its first edition was."
– Daniel Apai, Meteoritics and Planetary Science

"When this book arrived for review and I scanned the contents my first thought was, 'This looks like a great asset to my current OU studies [...] ' and by and large I have to say it has been a good companion. [...] well structured and easy enough to read [...] I enjoyed this book [...] "
– David Swain, Open University Geological Society Journal

"Lunine always shows us the exact nature of the evidence that leads scientists to be able to piece together the jigsaw puzzle they are trying to solve. He does this with careful referencing and good use of figures, so that the interested reader will always know where to look up more information, or investigate the data more deeply themselves."
– Vijay Tymms, New Directions



Part I. The Astronomical Planet
1. An introductory tour of Earth's cosmic neighbourhood
2. Largest and smallest scales
3. Forces and energy
4. Fusion, fission, sunlight, and element formation

Part II. The Measurable Planet: Tools to Discern the History of Earth and the Planets
5. Determination of cosmic and terrestrial ages
6. Other uses of isotopes for Earth history
7. Relative age dating of cosmic and terrestrial events: the cratering record
8. Relative age dating of terrestrial events: geologic layering and geologic time
9. Plate tectonics: an introduction to the process

Part III. The Historical Planet: Earth and Solar System through Time
10. Formation of the solar system
11. The Hadean Earth
12. The Archean eon and the origin of life: i. Properties of and sites for life
13. The Archean eon and the origin of life: ii. Mechanisms
14. The first greenhouse crisis: the faint early sun
15. Climate histories of Mars and Venus, and the habitability of planets
16. Earth in transition: from the Archean to the Proterozoic
17. The oxygen revolution
18. The Phanerozoic: flowering and extinction of complex life
19. Climate change across the Phanerozoic
20. Toward the age of humankind

Part IV. The Once and Future Planet
21. Climate change over the past 100,000 years
22. Human-induced global warming
23. Limited resources: the human dilemma
24. Coda: the once and future Earth


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Jonathan I. Lunine is the David C. Duncan Professor in the Physical Sciences at Cornell University. His research interests center broadly on planetary origin and evolution, in our solar system and around other stars. He works as an interdisciplinary scientist on the Cassini mission to Saturn and on the James Webb Space Telescope, and is also a co-investigator on the Juno mission which launched for Jupiter in August 2011. Dr Lunine is the author of over 230 scientific papers and besides the first edition of this book (Cambridge University Press, 1999), he has also written Astrobiology: A Multidisciplinary Approach (Pearson Addison-Wesley, 2005). He is a member of the US National Academy of Sciences and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Geophysical Union.

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