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ARCHITECTS OF ETERNITY - Richard Corfield

Have you ever wondered what the scientific truth behind the Spielberg blockbusters Jurassic Park and The Lost World is? Ever wondered how we can be so sure that the 'Greenhouse Effect' exists at all? If so, look no further. These and many other questions are answered in Richard Corfield's authoritative and accessible book Architects of Eternity, the definitive account of the development of the new science of fossils.

Architects of Eternity  
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Architects of Eternity tells the story of the development of palaeontology through the eyes of the subject's major players. Starting with Thomas Henry Huxley - the visionary Victorian intellectual dubbed 'Darwin's Bulldog'- and then on to the bone wars of Othniel Marsh and Edward Cope that raged at the end of the nineteenth century, establishing palaeontology's reputation for controversy.

It then examines the development of fossils as indicators of the passage of geological time, and finally, the techniques that, with the discovery of radioactivity at the beginning of the twentieth century, allowed real-time to be measured. Architects then takes us through the history and techniques that underlie our hard-won ability to measure the temperature and greenhouse gas content of ancient atmospheres and oceans and on through the controversies surrounding the extinction of the dinosaurs and other 'big-kills' in the history of life. It discusses the revolution that has occurred in our understanding of fossils in the past thirty years with the discovery that molecular clocks exist within each organism on the planet, which can be used to trace the time since they evolved. From here Richard discusses the science behind Jurassic Park and explains how, incredibly, it was based on a single man's seminal revelation on a Californian highway while driving home from work one Friday night in 1983. Finally, in 'Battles of Deepest Space and Time', Architects of Eternity concludes with a discussion of the most important frontiers and controversies facing the new palaeontologists today.

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Richard Corfield 2003 in association with pedalo.co.uk