Rebecca Boyle Excavates Earth’s Earliest History


Earth has a memory problem. Few rocks have survived from the first billion years of the planet’s history, when all kinds of important things happened, including—perhaps—the first stirrings of life. This amnesia has made it hard for researchers to piece together our origin story, and answer the really big questions like How did we get here? and Are we alone? But it hasn’t stopped them from trying. In a recent story for Quanta (which also got picked up by Wired), freelance journalist Rebecca Boyle reports on the latest efforts to settle these existential questions.

Here, Boyle tells Julia Rosen—a fellow freelancer and recovering geologist—how she tackled the oldest story in the world.

Read my Q&A with Boyle at The Open Notebook.

Some of the earliest evidence of life on Earth comes from layered deposits left by algae, known as stromatolites. These are from the Houston Museum of Natural History. (via Wikimedia)