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The Art of Yellowstone Science
Mammoth Hot Springs as a Window on the Universe

University of Illinois

About the Book

bookcover"ART AND SCIENCE BOTH ORIGINATE FROM THE SAME HUMAN DESIRE TO UNDERSTAND THE WORLD WITHIN AND AROUND US. Where did we come from? How did we get here? Why are we here? Where are we going? To seek answers, science requires inspiration from art, just as art yearns for understanding from sciences. This dynamic drives imagination and motivates curiousity.

Truth, as expressed in nature, exists perfectly well without us. Photography can express truth more than any other media and capture complex unexpected interactions between life and Earth. Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone National Park serves as a natural art and science laboratory to study the complexity interrelatedness, relevance and power of all natural forces.

Mammoth is a window on the universe, through which fundamental understandings of nature can be directly applied to other places and circumstances. Biological evolution is the framework for this combination of photographic art and science. Life originated billions of years of ago in extremely hot aqueous environments similar to those found in Yellowstone. As a result, research to understand how ancient life originated on Earth and potentially throughout the cosmos has been focused on Yellowstone hot springs for decades.

In the pages of this book, Mammoth Hot Springs photographic art is melded with the natural sciences to search for common laws of nature through the power of observation and willingness to embrace the unexpected. A magnifying glass is first taken to observe the beauty and unexpected complexity of life in and around the thermal system at Mammoth. Time lines and historical events at Mammoth provide a context to appreciate the evolutionary Tree of Life established by Carl R. Woese. This new appreciation of nature at Mammoth is then applied to challenges faced by society, now and in the future. 

The truth of everything is in the truth of anything. Things happen and life exists for reasons that go far beyond our present understanding. Nature therefore stands as the most powerful and honest force in our lives, and human existence depends on living within the means of nature. Humanity's quest for a sustainable existence will define our present and future place in the universe. The art and science of Mammoth Hot Springs provides an unexpectedly insightful vantage point from which to envision this future."


Dr. Bruce Fouke & Tom Murphy
The Art of Yellowstone Science: Mammoth Hot Springs as a Window on the Universe

The Art of Yellowstone Science: Mammoth Hot Springs as a Window on the Universe
by Bruce W. Fouke & Tom Murphy