Reviewed by Rita Hoots
Astronomer Matthew Hedman compiled his public lectures explaining recent advances in the physical sciences into a fascinating book. Using a multidisciplinary approach, he broaches the field of dating evidence from the past—the text covers the big bang through the evolution of numerous and varied civilizations. Using a wide range of time scales, the author examines specific points in time and describes and explains the dating methods. Chapters cover the Mayan calendar, Egyptian pyramids, carbon-14 dating with its standardization, potassium and argon tracings, current molecular dating, evidence from meteorites, the age of the stars, and the age of the universe.
Science attracts problem solvers, and Hedman provides a good model for such thinking. Included here are myriad chronological mysteries that have become more understandable as techniques have been devised to enable us to expand our understanding of past history. This is a science detective story in which clues regarding the past are revealed through circuitous means. Readers see how hypotheses are generated for further testing and expansion of data. The text is skillfully reinforced with clarifying tables and explanatory diagrams. This would be an enriching supplement for secondary and college multidisciplinary science programs because of its emphasis on the methods of science.
Review posted on 6/10/2009