We all know that the Earth is alive, but not just teeming with life; it is a living entity. It moves, deep inside and on the surface. Moreover, scientists have now discovered that the origins of life itself depended on the active geology of our planet. The earth is more than simply our birthplace, it is quite literally the thing that gave us birth.
Filmed over three years and at a cost of £3 million, Professor Aubrey Manning takes us on this amazing journey of discovery. In locations as diverse as the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, the polar ice cap, the crater of an active volcano in Hawaii and the peaks of the Himalayas, it follows scientists as they piece together the clues that reveal the secrets of the planet and the life it sustains.
<strong>Nature and technology working together</strong>
Often seen as opposing, conflicting phenomena, nature and man-made technology compliment each other throughout the making of this series, creating a journey of discovery that takes you to places you have never been able to venture. Where cameras cannot not go, the latest animation techniques take over; state-of-the-art CGI is used to travel through time to reveal how events over four billion years ago forged a living planet, unique in the solar system.
This marriage of science and nature reveals the hidden history of our planet, from the origin of its oceans to the creation of dry land; from the life and death of super-continents to the rising of vast mountain ranges, and from the onset of Ice Ages to the evolution of life itself.
He may not be David Attenborough, but Aubrey Manning is a widely published scholar. He's one of the country's leading experts on animal behaviour, and concentrates his research on genetics, development and evolution of behaviour.
Among the many posts he has held in his life are: Chairman of Edinburgh Brook Advisory Centre, Chairman of Council, Scottish Wildlife Trust and is currently a trustee of the National Museums of Scotland. He also holds honorary Doctorates from University Paul Sabatier and the Open University, so it's good to know we are in very safe hands!
<strong>Geology is the key</strong>
The study of rocks was the basis for this enormous project. Two centuries ago, by examining the rocks beneath the Earth's surface, scientists started to investigate the history of our planet and began formulating the astonishing concept of geological time, holding the key to many of life's mysteries. Even within a small landmass such as the UK, the rock under your feet will be quite different; In mountainous regions such as Scotland, Wales and the north of England the rock shows signs of glaciation, while in the south of England much of the rock is covered with boulder clay, deposited by glaciers. If you want to study the rock formation of your area the best places to start are road cuttings and local quarries. If you live near the sea, look along the cliff faces or even your local church may hold secrets from the earth's past.
<strong>Ring of Fire</strong>
The Pacific Ocean is rimmed by a chain of active volcanoes, arranged in a series of graceful arcs and extending 30,000 kilometres from New Zealand through Fiji, New Guinea, the Philippines, Japan, the Aleutian Islands, and down the west coast of the Americas to Patagonia. This necklace of volcanoes, continually rocked by earthquakes, has been christened the 'Ring of Fire'. Scientists exploring the link between the Pacific Ocean and the earthquakes and volcanoes which surround it have formulated a remarkable theory, plate tectonics, which explains not only how the outer part of the Earth works, but how the continents themselves, and the mineral wealth they contain, were first formed and continue to grow.
<strong>A world apart</strong>
Is the Earth unique, and if so, why? To find an answer, scientists have had to explore the Solar System, searching for clues about our planet's birth. Uniquely amongst the terrestrial planets, the Earth has retained liquid water on its surface for over 4 billion years, despite a steady increase in the Sun's heat output. This water has had a profound influence on the planet's geological activity, as well as being a breeding ground for life. But living organisms may have played a crucial role in ensuring that liquid water exists on Earth, again, confirmation that the planet's geology and biology are symbiotically linked tightly together.