26 June 2010

Earth Science, Anyone?

My own starting point, for what it is worth, was a school science book that I had when I was in Standard Five. The book was a standard issue school textbook – unloved, dull, plain- but near the front it had an illustration that just captivated me: a cutaway diagram showing the Earth’s interior as it would if you cut into the planet with a knife and withdrew a wedge representing a quarter of its bulk. Gradually my attention did turn into a more scholarly manner to the scientific import of the drawing and the realization that the Earth consisted of discrete layers, ending in the centre with a glowing iron and nickel, which was as hot as the surface of the Sun. Thinking with real wonder, I asked myself: How do they know that? I could not work out what spaces thousands of miles below us, that no eyes had ever seen and no X-ray could penetrate, could look like and be made of. That was how I engaged myself with Earth science.

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