The Earth Machine has an unusual pedigree: it was written by members of the team that assembled the Hall of Planet Earth (HOPE) at the American Museum of Natural History. So it draws on the structure of the exhibition and on the enormous amount of work involved in obtaining material for the displays. Centred on rocks as the primary source of information, the collection spans the globe. One exhibit in particular caught my attention: the museum staff made a latex mould of the Devonian unconformity at Siccar Point, but as exposed in cliffs and not at Hutton’s famous occurrence on...

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