Here, let me try. The sun is very, very hot

When I was an undergrad learning geology, the maxim that was thumped into me wasn’t how to build a mine or drill for oil and gas, it was simply: “the present is the key to the past”. The thing that took a while to accept was that the past was really, really, long.

It’s hard to comprehend the scale of geologic time: the timespan for continents to crash together and rip apart, for tiny sea-creatures to live, die and condense into kilometres of limestone, or streams to carve epic canyons carrying mountains to the sea. We use comparisons our minds can grasp, such as if all cosmological time was the length of string or compressed into a single year (humans beings appear in the final six hours).

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