JEveryone knows the story of Newton and the apple. But who has heard of Siccar Point? Or from James Hutton? In 1789, on that rocky headland near Dunbar, a Scottish physician was said to have realized how long it would take for mountains to unfold and be removed again when two layers of rock meet at a steep angle. It was the birth of realism, the idea that rock formations arose in colossal periods of time and without processes other than those still functioning today. Historically, it has a meaning similar to geology to Darwin’s idea of evolution through natural selection of biology, whereby without it, as the great geneticist Theodosius Dubzansky once said, nothing makes sense.
Complaints about how little central knowledge of a topic outside it is are as old as modern science itself. However, in the case of geology, it is probably more justified than anything else. You can pass Abitur today 1.0 without knowing – or knowing – what is so special about basalt and granite. Marcia Bjornrod, professor of geology at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin, finds this unfortunate, and not just personal. To them, contempt for their subject matter is one of the reasons humans treat their planet as if there was no tomorrow: in their opinion, many contemporaries are functionally illiterate when it comes to understanding the time scales on which the Earth is operating. Attempting to draw attention to this in the form of a popular non-fiction book, even with an intention to help correct this, seems hypothetical. Bjornrod sees it the same way. She wrote, “Most people don’t feel like stories without human heroes.”
Not all translation problems are solvable
Fortunately, I tried anyway, because “Timefulness,” the title of the original text, is the most stylistically brilliant book ever published in Earth sciences. Obviously, writing about quantum physics is easier than writing about rocks and geological ages, except for dinosaurs. Even authors of travel books often turn their geological sections into linguistic crisp bread. But if a lack of read geology books was one of the causes of the subject image problem, Marcia Bjornrod helped him all the time. On the basis of a comprehensive literary education and at the same time with a wonderful sense of important things and questions that ordinary people may ask themselves, it makes even difficult things transparent in the narrowest of spaces. He saves his readers not only unnecessary technical vocabulary, but also any geomorphological natural poetry. Instead, a few sentences unfold entire eras here.
Marcia Bjornrod’s impeccable prose still shines in the German version, even if not all of the translation problems could be solved. Includes the title. In Bjornerud’s work, “good time” is considered a counter-term to “immortality”, which aims not so much at eternal validity as it does to the attitude inspired by it, in which rocks and landscapes are believed to be “full” of time, “that the world of time, or better, is made Of time. “
When Lord Kelvin Darwin contradicted it
One actually desires more followers of this vision and also removes all the arguments put forward from the book about why its insufficient publication makes solutions to increasingly pressing environmental problems more difficult. The author is also forgiven for blaming the somewhat one-sided “immortality” dominance of physics and its ideal of eternally good laws. Nor was it necessary to overstate the steadfast objection of the physicist Lord Kelvin to Darwin’s conviction that the Earth should have an enormous lifetime in a fundamental interdisciplinary struggle and to assume that Kelvin had a hidden idea, in the current sense of the word creation. agenda. At least Bjornerud does not fail to point out that decades of resistance by many geologists to Alfred Wegener’s visions of continental drift had much to do with the inadequate physical education of rock experts at the time.
How dare Bjornrod criticize his guild, for example, when the history of the Earth is compared to a day of 24 hours, at the end of which the human appears in the last few seconds before midnight, in order to generalize. “This is a strange, even irresponsible, understanding of our position at the right time,” Bjornrod wrote. “On the one hand, it indicates a degree of insignificance and impotence that not only alienates psychologically, but also allows us to suppress the extent of humankind’s influence on the planet in this last quarter of a second.”
This is, of course, true with regard to the geological needs of a mammalian species, which depend on a delicate infrastructure insofar as it is extensive and soon not only eight billion representatives will live, but also more: everyone wants to live as long as possible – and this is true of course, but as the first form of Life is able to assert such a right before natural history. From a sub-temporal point of view, the Anthropocene, the era in which humanity became a geological factor, could be a period of geological upheaval among other things. In the sense that the idea of timing also opens such perspectives, it conflicts with the great goal declared by the author to “abolish the Anthropocene and restore realism.” In contrast to the development in biology, geology has shown that not everything makes sense there in light of the current.