What is the Turin Shroud? When were the Pyramids built? Where are the branches on the human family tree? Why did the dinosaurs die out? How did the Earth take shape? With questions like these, says Chris Turney, time is of the essence. And understanding how we pinpoint the past, he cautions, is crucial to putting the present in perspective and planning for the future.
In ten chapters, each focusing on a well-known dating controversy (from the existence of King Arthur to the last Ice Age), Turney reveals the leg-work behind the headlines. Drawing on years of professional experience, most recently with the celebrated 'Hobbit' fossil of Indonesia, Turney explains how written records, carbon, pollen, tree rings, constellations, and DNA sequencing can help archaeologists, paleontologists and geologists to 'tell the time'. We ignore or misunderstand these techniques and their results at our peril, he concludes.
List of Figures and Tables List of Permissions and Figure Sources Acknowledgements Introduction The Ever-changing Calendar A hero in a dark age The Forged Cloth of Turin The Pyramids and the Bear's Groin The Volcano that Shook Europe The Mandate from Heaven The Coming of the Ice The Lost Worlds And Then there was One The Hole in the Ground Towards the Limits of Time Epilogue: Time's up for Creationism Further Reading Index
CHRIS TURNEY is a British Geologist currently based at the University of Wollongong, Australia. He did the radiocarbon dating on the 'Hobbit' fossil of Flores, Indonesia, that hit the headlines worldwide. He has published numerous scientific papers and magazine articles and done many media interviews thanks to his infectious enthusiasm for working out how old things are.
'A fabulous, entertainingly written account of the amazing science behind calendars, dates and dating objects. Essential reading for anyone interested in prehistory.' - Professor Tim Flannery, Director of the South Australian Museum 'A rollicking run through the story of telling the time - lively and well-researched, with many fascinating stories.' - Professor Michael Benton, author of When Life Nearly Died 'This delightful introduction successfully fuses history, prehistory and earth science. It captures the imagination from its first page, and then takes the reader on a fun and fact-filled world tour through the past.' - Professor Tim White, University of California at Berkeley, USA 'What I like best about the book: It's a scientist clearly explaining what he does for a living and why it is important, at a level that any literate person can understand. Not an easy accomplishment.' - scienceblogs.com/pharyngula 'Absorbing - will appeal to a wide audience, particularly those who got a kick out of Blink or Freakonomics.' - Publishers Weekly 'If you like detective stories, you'll love this book. With a passion that radiates from every page, geologist Chris Turney, who did the radiocarbon dating on the 'hobbit' human fossil recently discovered in Indonesia, reveals how scientific dating techniques have helped solve the biggest mysteries of all time. What really happened to the dinosaurs? How old is the universe? Why did giant kangaroos die out? When did early Homo sapiens sweep aside the Neanderthals in the Middle East? What caused the ice ages? Turney explains how trees, amino acids, carbon, luminescence, volcanic ash, stars and even pollen can all give objects or events an exact place in history. The book is easy to understand and it should satisfy the hungriest of infovores.' - New Scientist '5/5: a book that tackles [these] issues is welcome indeed - that it succeeds so brilliantly is a wonderful surprise.' - Peter Andrews of the Natural History Museum, BBC Focus Magazine 'Well researched and covers a lot of ground in a splendidly personal style. Highly recommended' - Quaternary Australasia 'A fascinating guide to the measurement of time' - Chemistry World