A Walk Through Time: From Stardust to Us–The Evolution of Life on Earth
Fifteen Billion Years in the Life . . A breathtaking, vibrantly illustrated history of the universe. "A valuable new way to conceive of the immensity of geological time and of organic evolution that has occurred within it. It has broad appeal to the public and will be a useful guide for science educators as well."–E. O. Wilson. "My Walk Through Time was an unforgettable experience, awe-inspiring, and humbling…rich in scientific fact and unexpectedly, exquisite humor."–Jane Goodall. A Walk Through Time is a landmark book, gorgeously illustrating the remarkable drama of the history of the universe, from the furious blast of the Big Bang to the first pulse of life on Earth, and on through the rich pageant of life’s evolution from primordial microbes to the rise of Homo sapiens. Spanning 15 billion years, the story of life’s greatest mysteries emerges here through 130 beautiful four-color illustrations and an absorbing narrative. Combining the knowledge of three expert authors, the text covers the most up-to-date findings, including new understandings about how the universe coalesced into galaxies and planets; how microscopic animals can survive in such superheated environments as deep-sea vents and inside the Earth’s core, and the possibility that water came to our planet from space in the form of millions of tiny comets. A Walk Through Time gives readers a new perspective on awe-inspiring processes that produced us and our place in the universe. The companion to a traveling exhibition developed by Hewlett Packard and the Foundation for Global Community. * Lavishly produced by the team that created The Illustrated Brief History of Time. Brian Swimme, Ph.D. (San Francisco, CA), is a cosmologist and the director of the Center for the Story of the Universe at the California Institute of Integral Studies. He is the author of several books, including The Universe Story. Dr. Sid Liebes (Palo Alto, CA) is a senior scientist at Hewlett-Packard Laboratories. Elisabet Sahtouris, Ph.D. (San Francisco, CA) is an evolutionary biologist and consultant to the United Nations.
From the Back Cover
Imagine a walk where every step forward transports you a few million years in time. Just such a mind-expanding premise inspired this landmark book, developed from the acclaimed "Walk Through Time" exhibit on tour around the world.
About the Author
Here, in one lavish volume, is the remarkable drama of the history of the universe and life on Earth. Travel from the furious blast of the Big Bang to the first pulse of life, and on through the rich pageant of life’s evolution from primordial microbes to the rise of Homo sapiens. Span 15 billion years to discover life’s greatest mysteries emerging. Over 130 beautiful four-color illustrations and an absorbing narrative highlight significant events and themes in Earth’s life story. The original exhibit itself is re-created as a timeline that runs throughout the book, pinpointing key stages in the evolutionary drama and where they fall in the vast sweep of time.
One result is a new appreciation of the rich complexity of the life processes of the planet aeons before the appearance of large-scale plants and animals. On the mile-long scale of the original "Walk," for example, microbial life appears 4,000 feet in the past and remains the sole life-form for most of the mile. Humans appear merely three feet ago. The last ice age concludes only one-tenth of an inch in the past, and the world’s population currently doubles each half a thousandth of an inch.
By relating life’s story according to the accurate timeline of evolution, A Walk Through Time highlights just what latecomers we humans are to Earth’s family of life, and showcases the surprising ingenuity and stamina of the microbial life that preceded us and still supports the life all around us. The book also reveals the stunning effects the human species has wrought in so short a span of time, precipitating what may become the largest species extinction in 65 million years.
All along the way, we are informed of the most important recent discoveries. We explore the exuberant creativity of microbial life-forms and learn about their surprisingly cosmopolitan lives, interconnected in a teeming web of symbiotic relationships described as the first World Wide Web of information exchange. We learn about the many mysteries being unraveled as we probe the code of DNA; how the universe coalesced into galaxies and planets; and how microscopic animals can survive in such superheated environments as deep-sea vents and deep inside the Earth. Most importantly, we learn that we can no longer perceive Earth as an inert lump of rock with an assembly of different life-forms, but must understand that our planet comprises one comprehensive, intricately woven life system.
Those who take this walk through time will gain a new understanding of the wondrous history of how life developed, a feeling of awe and inspiration for the complexity and beauty of the processes that have made life possible over billions of years, and a greater appreciation for the growing impact the human species is having on the future of all the myriad forms of life, including our own.
"My ‘Walk Through Time’ was an unforgettable experience, awe inspiring and humbling…rich in scientific fact and, unexpectedly, exquisite humor."–Jane Goodall
"A valuable new way to conceive of the immensity of geological time and of organic evolution that has occurred within it and life on Earth. It has broad appeal to the public and will be a useful guide for science educators as well."–E.O. Wilson
"An inspired collaboration among the corporate and nonprofit sectors, futurists, and scientists, the ‘Walk Through Time’ project–both the exhibit and the book–helps us understand our world in its largest context as we navigate the next thousand feet along the cosmic timeline."–Peter Senge, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Society for Organizational Learning
Imagine taking a walk where every step transports you a few million years through time! A Walk Through Time takes you on just such a journey. In addition to the informative main text, which tells the lively story of the evolution of life, the book contains the original text and illustrations of the acclaimed "Walk Through Time" exhibition on tour around the world. This innovative exhibition tells the story of life’s evolution in a mile-long walk highlighting the major developments.
In the book, the text of the exhibition runs along the bottom of the pages, along with a timeline to show how many millions of years have passed. Beautifully written and lavishly illustrated, A Walk Through Time allows you to both savor the astonishing story of life’s evolution through the engaging narrative of the main text and to enjoy the exhibition in the comfort of your own home.
SIDNEY LIEBES, Ph.D., is a physicist with research and teaching careers at Princeton and Stanford Universities. He recently retired as a research manager and senior scientist at Hewlett-Packard Laboratories.
The interconnected web of existence, January 18, 2000
A Walk Through Time – From Stardust to Us – The evolution of Life on Earth.
A Walk Through Time (AWTT) is an incredibly well done book, from all aspects. The artwork and printing make it suitable for display and the content challenges us to re-think our position in the world and the decisions we are making.
The explanation of evolution is both plausible and understandable to the lay person. Yet the mystery of life is not diminished or hidden, so there is more than enough room for those who understand our existence through their love of God.
Beginning more than 5,000 MYA (5,000 Million Years Ago, or 5 Billion Years Ago) we are told, the "universe did indeed begin in an explosion of energy powerful enough to send all matter flying apart for billions of years into the future." From that starting point, AWTT traces with considerable detail the evolution of our living earth of which we are a part. And everywhere the mystery of "the life force" is to be found.
One can read the prose or follow the exhibition text along the bottom of the pages, or take in both to re-enforce what is being explained. Sidney Liebes managed to convince HP of the merits of creating a 1mile "walk through time." That project is staffed by volunteers and has been presented in a dozen venues in three countries. The "exhibition text" mentioned above is from that project.
The final paragraph of the book summarizes the challenge for our existence in this totally interconnected web of life. "Is it possible that a sense of awe, wonder and humility, of origins, place, possibilities, and recovery of a belief in the sacredness of nature, can, and perhaps must, become operational imperatives in guiding humanity into the future? Rather than pondering the illusive purpose of life, can we not accept and appreciate the gift, live the life we are given, respect all life, and preserve options for the future. Though none of us has the power to control the future, each of us is free to determine how we will contribute to the circumstance out of which the future will evolve."
Perhaps the purpose of life is simply to ensure that life continues. Then there is much in this book to set us on the right path.
ELISABET SAHTOURIS, Ph.D., is an evolutionary biologist and a consultant to the United Nations. She has taught at the University of Massachusetts and Massachusetts Institute of Technology and served as a science writer for the Horizon/Nova television series.
BRIAN SWIMME, Ph.D., is a mathematical cosmologist, the author of The Universe Story (with Thomas Berry), the creator of the video series Canticle to the Cosmos, and a member of the graduate faculty of the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco.