Simons Foundation Lectures are free public colloquia related to basic science and mathematics. These high-level talks are intended for professors, students, postdocs and business professionals, but interested people from the metropolitan area are welcome as well.
Earth’s geological and biological evolution are intertwined in remarkable ways that are coming into sharper focus thanks to studies of the diversity and distribution of minerals. Robert Hazen will explore the emerging field of ‘mineral evolution’ and reveal how Earth, which is unique among known worlds in its biosphere, is unique in its geosphere as well.
In this lecture, Robert Hazen will examine how Earth’s near-surface environment has evolved as a consequence of selective physical, chemical and biological processes — an evolution that is preserved in the mineralogical record. Recent studies of mineral diversification through time reveal correlations with major geochemical, tectonic and biological events, including large changes in ocean chemistry, the supercontinent cycle, the origins of life, the increase in atmospheric oxygen and the rise of the terrestrial biosphere. Growing data resources also point to new opportunities for applying statistical methods and visualization strategies for deep-time — or geologic time — data. Among our most provocative findings: Earth is mineralogically unique in the cosmos.