June 22, 2021

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Marcia Bjornerud promotes geology.

Marcia Bjornerud promotes geology.

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.

Ulf von Rauchaubt

Responsible for the “Science” department at Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung.

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.”

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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. “