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Oxygen: A Four Billion Year History
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Oxygen: A Four Billion Year History [Format Kindle]

Donald E. Canfield

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Présentation de l'éditeur

The air we breathe is twenty-one percent oxygen, an amount higher than on any other known world. While we may take our air for granted, Earth was not always an oxygenated planet. How did it become this way? Oxygen is the most current account of the history of atmospheric oxygen on Earth. Donald Canfield--one of the world's leading authorities on geochemistry, earth history, and the early oceans--covers this vast history, emphasizing its relationship to the evolution of life and the evolving chemistry of the Earth. With an accessible and colorful first-person narrative, he draws from a variety of fields, including geology, paleontology, geochemistry, biochemistry, animal physiology, and microbiology, to explain why our oxygenated Earth became the ideal place for life.

Describing which processes, both biological and geological, act to control oxygen levels in the atmosphere, Canfield traces the records of oxygen concentrations through time. Readers learn about the great oxidation event, the tipping point 2.3 billion years ago when the oxygen content of the Earth increased dramatically, and Canfield examines how oxygenation created a favorable environment for the evolution of large animals. He guides readers through the various lines of scientific evidence, considers some of the wrong turns and dead ends along the way, and highlights the scientists and researchers who have made key discoveries in the field.

Showing how Earth's atmosphere developed over time, Oxygen takes readers on a remarkable journey through the history of the oxygenation of our planet.

Some images inside the book are unavailable due to digital copyright restrictions.

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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur (beta) 3.6 étoiles sur 5  21 commentaires
8 internautes sur 8 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 5 Stars for Information, 1 Star for Communication 30 octobre 2014
Par Roger Sweeny - Publié sur
I would recommend this book to geology grad students, advanced chemistry majors, the many PhDs, post-docs, and professors whose research is mentioned, and people who are willing to stop often, do some outside research, figure out exactly what the author is saying, think about how it fits with the rest of the book, and continue reading. I would not recommend it to the proverbial “intelligent layman”–even if that person had some background in chemistry and biology and geology. If you think the word diagenetic (which Canfield uses without definition) has something to do with the double helix, this book is probably not for you.

Canfield really knows his stuff. There is an awful lot here about how much oxygen was in the earth’s atmosphere when, and what processes might be responsible.

But, OMG, there are so many problems with the writing and organization. Orson Scott Card’s one star review is unfair (it is NOT easy to make all this information “entertaining and absolutely clear”) but his statement about “telling things way out of order and assuming knowledge that most readers won't have” rings true. Canfield needs to explain things early, in a way that readers can understand and use for the rest of the book. E.g.,what does it mean to say “sulfate is reduced to pyrite” and why does it matter?; what is the difference between ferrous and ferric iron and why does it matter? This one made me crazy: On pages 89 and 90 (out of 158) are a series of paragraphs about the chemistry of iron. “To understand this,” he begins, “we need to know something about the chemistry of iron (Fe).” But he’s been talking about iron reactions for a good deal of the last 89 pages–as if we not only know something about the chemistry of iron but know a lot! Why the bleep are these paragraphs more than halfway through the book?

It IS hard to write a book like this. You have to make lots of decisions about what ideas to introduce when, and how much detail to go into. Canfield has chosen poorly for people who aren’t “in the business.” Reading the epilogue, which is sort of a summary earth history, I wondered how much better the book could have been if he had started with this, suitably expanded and explained: “what I think happened”–and devoted the rest of the book to what the research says: “why I think it happened.”
16 internautes sur 19 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Note from Publisher 21 février 2014
Par P. Treadwell - Publié sur
Format:Format Kindle
Unfortunately the rights holder to Plate 5 was not willing to grant rights to include it in the digital edition. We share the customer's frustration, but many readers who prefer Kindle to print are enjoying the book in spite of this one missing illustration.
6 internautes sur 6 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 Distracted by the academic chit-chat 17 mars 2014
Par Little Teacher on the Prarie - Publié sur
Format:Relié|Achat vérifié
I found Canfield's obsession with inclusion of academic chit-chat and academic crediting in the text to be distracting, not endearing as he perhaps intended. I spent years in academia and I understand it is important to give out atta-boys and atta-girls, but not in the middle of the story. Save it for publication in specialist academic journals where such score keeping really matters and keep it in footnotes in a book like this aimed at a wider audience. For an example, see p. 43 and the digression on hotel repairs by his mentor Dave Des Marais.

A glossary would have been helpful, too. I've also been reading Nick Lane's book on oxygen for an overlap in coverage, which is a much more no-nonsense style of writing.
56 internautes sur 75 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
1.0 étoiles sur 5 Kindle edition not worth it. Bought it, returned it. 29 janvier 2014
Par J. C. Petts - Publié sur
Format:Format Kindle
I started reading this with interest but returned it very quickly.

Now Donald Canfield is a respected geochemist and I'm sure he has a great story to tell: indeed the opening print material was excellent.

I'm sure the print edition is fine, but I definitely didn't like the black square with the words "Please refer to the print edition for this content" or similar message when I clicked on an image link. The Kindle edition is just over $15, with the print edition a little over $20. This is a huge rip-off for the Kindle edition.

When something like this happens the price should be $3-5, with a BIG warning saying "BE CAREFUL: critical content which is essential to getting the message across in a scientific fashion is flat out missing, which is why this is so much cheaper than the print edition!"

I ended up with "Oxygen: The molecule that made the world", by Nick Lane. Yes, it's a little bit less up-to-date, and the images aren't perfect, but at least they are there.

Princeton University Press should be ashamed - they are doing nobody any favors with this gobbler.

Correcting error on 31 Jan 2014 - Canfield is a geobiologist, not geochemist.
8 internautes sur 10 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 Interesting But Difficult Read 28 février 2014
Par Frederick S. Goethel - Publié sur
Format:Relié|Achat vérifié
When people think of oxygen, if they think of it at all, it is that it is produced by plants and is necessary for most life on earth. There really is never any thought to how the concentration of oxygen stays at about 21% (at sea level) or where oxygen comes from. It's just there, and nothing I ever had in biology gave any other answers…it was always the "respiration loop" of carbon dioxide being absorbed by trees and oxygen produced which is then breathed in by animals which creates carbon dioxide and around we go. So, it was a surprise to discover there was so much more to the oxygen story and that oxygen wasn't even present on the planet when it first began.

The writer writes well for a scientist, which is no small feat, however this book is not really for the everyday reader. I was a biology major in college (oh so many years ago) and had the mandatory amount of chemistry, but absolutely no geology. And, to fully appreciate the story the author is telling, you need a working knowledge of both of these subjects. The writing was clear…it was the subject matter that made the reading extremely difficult.

Even with the above caveat, I enjoyed the book. It took me a while and I had to reread a number of sections before I got it, but I eventually did get through it and found it to be fascinating. My warning is not to get this thinking it is a popular science book…it is real science and it can be very dense reading.
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