The Proterozoic Eon was once regarded as the neglected middle half of Earth history. The name refers to early animals, but they did not appear until the eon (dos.5–0.54 Ga) was nearly over. Molecular dioxygen, the presence of which altered the geochemical behavior of nearly every element essential to life, rose from negligible to near-modern levels, and then plummeted before rising fitfully again. Plate tectonics took on a modern form, and two supercontinents, Nuna and Rodinia, successively congregated and later dispersed. Climate regulatory failures, i.e., Snowball Earth, appear to be a uniquely Proterozoic phenomenon, having occurred twice in rapid succession near the end of the eon (from 717 to 660 Ma and from 650 to 635 Ma) and arguably once near its beginning (ca. 2.43 Ga). Dynamic sea glaciers covered Snowball Earth oceans from pole to pole, and equatorial sublimation drove slow-moving ice sheets on land. Ultimately, the gradual accumulation of CO2 triggered rapid deglaciation and transient greenhouse aftermaths. Physically based and geologically tested, Neoproterozoic Snowball Earth appears to have molecular legacies in ancient bitumens and modern organisms. This is the story of my love affair with an eon that is now a little less neglected.
step 1. Southern area ONTARIO
My earliest brush that have science are understanding physicist George Gamow’s (1947) common guide One-two-three … Infinity, however, my early role design was Teacher Opponent in the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s (1912) The Lost Industry. If the research will be regarding the planning crazy places (Amazonian tepuis), and then make fantastic breakthroughs (life dinosaurs), and you may giving popular lectures (terrorizing pterosaurs), then i wished to be a researcher.
We was born in (what’s now) the downtown area Toronto, which in fact had huge-area masters-zoos, an art gallery, a museum, organic gardens, a substantial observatory, and so on. My mom, Dorothy Medhurst, is serious, sports, and you can interesting. She is actually an initial-university ways teacher, nursery-college management, correspondence-university teacher (to have Northern Ontario students in place of local universities), and you will sign artist. Out of Scottish-English removal, she are a beneficial Toronto native. Dad, patient and you may painstaking, are an industrial painting chemist. As Samuel Hochbaum, he had emigrated out-of Poland for the 1926 within ages of 17 and you may try a keen ardent antitribalist. Each other was basically freethinkers unbound by conference. None was a twelfth grade graduate-my father read chemistry later in the day school, and you can my personal mother coached in private schools-however, our home is actually packed with instructions. My parents possessed a bit of land in this new Caledon Slopes, away from urban area. It depending a two-place bungalow inside it that have a grand glance at with no running liquid, stamina, otherwise phone. I went around the weekend throughout every season and all sorts of summer, when we just weren’t on hiking travel. My moms and dads considered that babies will likely be left external, and you may my wanderings helped me end up being equally at home throughout the nation plus in the town.
I remember collecting Ordovician invertebrate fossils and chipping out crystals of blue and orange celestite (SrCO3) from vugs in Devonian dolomite. I compared them with specimens from around the world at the Royal Ontario Museum, where, as a 9-year-old, I attended my first geology class on Saturday mornings from paleontologist Madeleine Fritz (1896–1990). I went on many mineral-collecting field trips led by the museum’s curatorial staff. As a teenager, I escaped being labeled an oddball by being good at sports. My parents admonished my three younger siblings and me to pursue any activity we pleased, so long as we did it with real intent. My sister became a four-time Olympian, provincial human rights commissioner, and senior administrator in Health Canada. The older of my brothers became a steel worker after playing junior hockey alongside future NHL great Bobby Orr. My younger brother became a retailer and distributor of popular recorded music nationwide. My parents, who identified with the romance of the far North, were thrilled when my growing obsession with rocks and minerals looked to become a profession.