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Andrew Alden

Denver Day 2 (GSA 2010 Annual Meeting)

By November 1, 2010

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I enjoyed a masterful set of talks on Robert Hazen's great insight, mineral evolution: the idea that Earth's set of minerals has changed and grown and diversified over the course of its history. The talks started with the cosmos, because of course the universe itself has evolved from the Big Bang's mix of hydrogen and helium (and a tiny bit of lithium) into today's set of elements and their isotopes. Two other talks dealt with the mineral evolution of meteorites, which told me a lot I didn't know before, and other talks gave details of how new minerals arose during Precambrian and Phanerozoic time. Hazen gave the last talk, laying out many other examples of evolution outside geology: languages, organic chemicals, and technology (material culture). His example for technology involved his strong interest in trumpets, as he showed different types of trumpets over the centuries. The features of evolution, he said, are found across the cosmos and society, and why should biological evolution be considered unusual?

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