Ice Age

John Gribbin, Mary Gribbin

Ice Age



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We may not know it, but we are currently living in a mild stage of an Ice Age. This, however, is not even the most fascinating or exciting information we will read in Ice Age: The Theory That Came In From The Cold! In their book, John and Mary Gribbin explain the discoveries of 19th century geology, and reveal a surprising theory on the origin of humankind, which is closely linked to astronomical cycles, and our planet’s alternating frozen eras.

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Analysis and key concepts


To humans, it seems completely normal to have both of the Earth’s poles covered in ice, but this is actually a very rare occurrence. We are currently experiencing a ‘mild’ Ice Age, and it would take very little to radically change the planet’s climate balance


Theories of glaciation arose from the study of erratic boulders: geology and astronomy came together to formulate mathematical models capable of reconstructing the planet’s past climate, and predicting future trends


Milankovitch's model was the result of an incredible amount of work, which lasted thirty years, and which was made possible thanks to mathematician Ludwig Pilgrim’s studies of the Earth’s precession, eccentricity, and tilt variations


The evidence that allows us to determine the climate of the distant past, lies at the bottom of the oceans: thanks to sediment analyses, scientists have been able to identify the succession of Ice Ages


Mammals did not establish themselves as a ‘successful species’ until after the disappearance of the dinosaurs, some 65 million years ago, but another condition was necessary for human evolution: climate change


A widely approved theory links humankind to the last Ice Epoch: spreading ice in the northern hemisphere caused drought in West Africa, where our ancestors had to either evolve or disappear




Take-home message

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Many useful tips to:

  • Learn about the basic mechanisms that regulate climate on Earth.
  • Understand the links between geology, astronomy, and climatology.
  • Discover a surprising theory on the origin of humankind.

John Gribbin is an astrophysicist at Cambridge University, who is a full-time writer of science books, articles, and television series for the BBC and Radio 4. His work has received much acclaim in both the United Kingdom and the United States of America.

Mary Gribbin studied psychology at the University of Sussex, and is an established author of popular science books for children.

Publishing house:

Barnes & Noble