Journey To The Centre Of The Earth

We know more about the cosmos above our heads that about what's beneath our feet ... While volcanic lava holds mineralogical clues, and seismographs and neutrinos reveal strata secrets, great unknowns remain about what lies beneath. What is the mantle made of? How does the core generate Earth's magnetic field? How deep can life survive? Author and broadcaster David Whitehouse delves into these questions using Jules Verne's Journey To The Centre of the Earth as a background narrative. Serving up intriguing information about the first seismoscope and the so-called 'deep diamonds', he travels from the crust to the core, explaining everything from continental drift to the dynamo theory — FOCUS MAGAZINE

Revealing some of the wonder of what is beneath our feet, [Whitehouse] looks at the science of seismology and explains how far we have already gone. Deep mines, volcanoes, earthquakes, underground oceans, and the nature of life are all subjects of inquiry. Of particular interest to non-scientists are Whitehouse's reflections on literature and how science fiction has reflected man's changing notions of science, religion and the origins of our world — GOOD BOOK GUIDE

In this look at the unexplored and unexplorable inner core of our planet, David Whitehouse discovers a world that is surprising and enigmatic... The description of what lies beneath our feet is almost frightening ... In the course of his travels through the Earth, Whitehouse reveals insights into our planet's origins, and of how understanding what's required to sustain life on Earth may help to direct our quest for life in space — GEOGRAPHICAL

I was inspired by a sense of wonder about the ground beneath my feet — THE TABLET

In the spirit of Jules Verne's popular classic Journey to the Center of the Earth, Royal Astronomical Society fellow Whitehouse (The Sun: A Biography, 2005, etc.) describes how modern advances in geology provide insight into the evolution and dynamic structure of the Earth.

“Astronomers often say we are made of stardust and are children of the stars,” writes the author in this enthusiastic review of scientific discovery, “but the Earth is no less our parent.” He explains that probes of the asteroid Vesta by a NASA spacecraft offer clues to the original building blocks of our own planet. At the same time, 4.2 billion-year-old rock samples have been found in western Australia with an isotope structure that appears to indicate the existence of surprisingly cool surface waters on Earth. 

Whitehouse reviews developments in seismology that have allowed scientists to infer the composition of the Earth below its crust by measuring the propagation of waves during earthquakes. "The Lisbon earthquake of 1755 marked a turning point in our understanding of the Earth," he writes. Collating measurements in different places have given scientists the opportunities to fully understand how earthquakes are created by waves beneath the surface of the Earth caused by shifting masses. 

In the 1890s, scientists were able to measure the speed at which different below-the-surface waves propagated, and improvement in the sensitivity of measuring devices led to the detection of an earthquake in Japan from a monitoring station in Germany. By the 1950s, advances in material science and quantum physics revealed the existence of new crystalline structures, and a mysteriously rotating iron ball was discovered at Earth's center. 

The author speculates that this below-the-surface activity not only creates earthquakes and volcanoes, but may also have played a part in the evolution of life by creating the necessary material and environment.

Whitehouse takes readers on a richly rewarding journey through space and time in this scientific travelogue - KIRKUS REVIEWS

In his Journey to the Centre of the Earth, astronomer and BBC science broadcaster David Whitehouse takes the reader on a scientific journey from crust to core in a book inspired by Verne’s.

Whitehouse’s account is the most readable and wide-ranging, although it is inevitably speculative. “We will reach the distant stars before we reach the centre of the Earth,” he writes, after descending more than 1,000 metres into one of the deepest mines in Europe, the Boulby potash mine in northeast England. He is also the most adept at mixing the history of Earth science — beginning with Edmond Halley’s maritime expedition to measure Earth’s magnetic field around 1700 — with comments by current researchers. One of them admits that “everything” about the inner core — structure, anisotropy, topography and dynamics — “is getting increasingly complex as we get more data.”  - NATURE

Guided by the most up-to-date scientific findings, British science journalist and astronomer Whitehouse commands an imagined voyage into Earth's interior. He frames his journey with Jules Verne's 1864 novel, Journey to the Centre of the Earth, and interweaves elements of Verne's work into his own narrative. After a quick discussion of Verne's life and oeuvre, Whitehouse presents a quick synopsis of our current understanding of the Earth's layers and then descends into the Earth's crust as far as he is able - in this care, going down into Boulby potash mine in northeast England. Filling his pages with curious facts, brief biographies, and scientific theories about the Earth's inner structure, Whitehouse proffers explanations of the Earth's formation, the origin of the Moon, and more. For instance he thoroughly discusses the Earth's magnetic field, reassuring readers that a flip of the field - which last happened 41,000 years ago - is unlikely to happen anytime soon. Whitehouse surveys the baffling nature of the Earth's solid core and concludes his work, fittingly, with discussions of the planet's demise as well as other planets near and far. This is a fascinating investigation of geologic history - PUBLISHERSWEEKLY.COM

More than 150 years ago, Jules Verne imagined a fantastic voyage into Earth’s depths. In reality, the planet’s innards are no less remarkable than the Jurassic--period monsters and subterranean labyrinths that Verne envisioned: Iron crystals stretch 20 kilometers long, colossal plumes of liquefied rock surge toward the surface and fragments of ancient seafloors lie entombed in the mantle.

In his latest book, astronomer and writer David Whitehouse takes readers on a scientific journey to the center of the Earth. The trip explores the latest discoveries about what lies beneath our feet and what mysteries remain unsolved. Whitehouse intertwines these facts with compelling retellings of research expeditions and throwbacks to Verne’s classic tale.

While the characters in Verne’s novel descended through an Icelandic volcano, real-life earth scientists have a trickier time getting up close and personal with their research subject, Whitehouse notes. The deepest humans have ever travelled is about four kilometers below ground, in a gold mine in South Africa — not even a thousandth of the way to Earth’s center. Humans will reach the stars before the center of the Earth, Whitehouse predicts.

Luckily, scientists have a bag of tricks for looking deeper into the planet. Researchers glean information from earthquakes, diamonds and even rumbles from nuclear bomb tests. That research has revealed the complex and sometimes downright bizarre makeup of Earth’s interior, including an inner, inner core, and the geophysical mechanisms that drive plate tectonics. Collecting these clues helps scientists better understand humankind’s unique place in the cosmos, Whitehouse contends. Earth’s life-protecting magnetic field and climate-controlling plate tectonics mean that “we are as much children of the core as we are the offspring of air and water,” he writes.

The breadth of Whitehouse’s journey — from crust to core and beyond — results in the book’s biggest weakness. With so much ground to cover (and underground, too), the book frequently moves on to its next topic before everything has been explored in full detail. In this sense, Into the Heart of Our World is a great introduction to the mysteries of Earth’s depths that will leave readers clamouring for a more in-depth trip into the planet.  SCIENCE NEWS


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