KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — A University of Tennessee geologist whose studies counter recent evidence of life on Mars has written a new book about the origin of life on Earth.
Dr. Harry McSween’s “Fanfare for Earth: The Origin of Our Planet and Life” traces the scientific clues that help explain Earth’s history and the evolution of life.
McSween heads geological sciences at UT-Knoxville, and conducts research on the geology of other planets. His work presents a challenge to recent speculation that a Martian meteorite found in the Arctic contained fossil evidence of ancient life.
McSween, while leaving open the possibility of life on Mars, believes the material found in the Mars meteorite resulted from natural geological processes occurring at high temperature levels.
In his book, McSween describes the sequence of events that transpired through time to enable life on Earth to form and proliferate.
McSween cites how factors such as the moon’s gravitational pull, plate tectonics, meteorites and comets interacted with evolving organisms to create an atmosphere, ocean, land, lakes and streams profuse with life.
He also looks at creation stories from many cultures, and the foundations of modern geologic and scientific discovery.
“The point of the book is not just about life, but about the fact that the Earth is really special because of the presence of life,” McSween said.
McSween said the book is written in a non-technical style and inspired from personal experience.
“It was a very personal undertaking,” McSween said. “Quite frankly, this is a frightening thing to do for a scientist. We are used to working very objectively and not inserting personality into our writing.
“I hope to make the subject seem more approachable, and to show that science does not have to be cold and sterile, but is an interesting activity.”
The book is published by New York’s St. Martin’s Press. For more information, contact John Karle at (212) 674-5151.
Contact: Dr. Harry McSween (423-974-2366)