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Symphony in C: Carbon and the Evolution of (Almost) Everything

Symphony in C Book CoverBy Robert M Hazen
Review by Review by Noureen (Earth Sciences)

I first read Symphony in C: Carbon and the Evolution of (Almost) Everything out of curiosity, looking for reading material about Earth sciences. A lot of books relied on a broad knowledge of the subject, which I didn’t have because I hadn’t take geology before. Symphony in C was a great contrast to these books, and takes you through the basics of the study of carbon, and introduces you to a few more complicated ideas as well. It introduced me to many concepts we cover in Earth sciences, such as the structure of the Earth, the early Earth and the carbon cycle, to name a few.

Symphony in C is a journey through the history of all we know about the versatile element of carbon from the Big Bang to the emergence of life to the present and our relationship with carbon. It indirectly shows how chemistry plays a significant role in Earth sciences and intersects with mineralogy. Using language that is clear and easily understood, it is accessible, told in a narrative divided into four movements like a symphony — Earth, Air, Fire, and Water — in which Hazen tells the story of carbon in rocks and crystals, the carbon cycle, energy and industry, and life respectively.

Hazen also tells you of how carbon itself can tell a story, through carbon dating and through our relationship with the cycles of the Earth that we are greatly changing and impacting.

It’s a great resource for anyone who wants to understand the vast and interdisciplinary nature of Earth sciences, even those who haven’t taken geology before like me, as it tells it all through the discussion of a single element that can be found everywhere in life and is the basis of one of society’s biggest issues: the Climate Crisis.

Hazen covers a wide range of topics, some of which you will learn about in Earth sciences, some of which you won’t, but even those you do not cover will help better your understanding of the subject.

Symphony in C: Carbon and the Evolution of (Almost) Everything By Robert M Hazen
ISBN-10 : 0008292418
ISBN-13 : 978-0008292416

Try checking the availability of this book at your school or local library or explore second hand bookshops and websites. You may also wish to purchase from either Amazon or Blackwell’s.

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