Prometheus's Brother

Foreword by Rory Alsop

Most people don't give more than a cursory glance to the world we live in today. They understand that history happened giving us all manner of interesting fossils and Discovery Channel programmes, but how it happened, and what that means to modern culture, are not forefront in the mind of the average man or woman on the street. In the past, the church told the majority what to think. Nowadays television has taken over that role. I'd like to think that the majority of the Millenial generation will know of Charles Darwin, but am I confident that they will get past the common misconceptions of natural selection and the YouTube-worthy contenders for the Darwin Awards?

Not really.

For those of us with a curious mind, however, the how it happened, and the why, and all the other questions, are almost more important than the end result. As a child I was provided with the Encyclopaedia Britannica, National Geographic, New Scientist and so on, and was fascinated by every discovery and every new understanding. This founded a lifelong love of the workings of the Earth and the universe, and a desire to find out more.

I have the pleasure of knowing a large number of inquisitive individuals with a similar curiosity. It's inevitable in my line of work, which attracts a high percentage of people who wish to dismantle what they see, the better to understand it, fix it and improve it. This is the mindset of the Engineer, the Scientist, the Hacker, and Thomas Pornin is almost the epitome of these, combining diligent research with appropriate levels of irreverent speculation.

In the few years I have known Thomas I have been continually impressed and entertained by his approach to almost any topic you can think of. In sharing his experience he tackles surface questions deftly, and with a certain sarcastic humour then looks at the implied framework underpinning the question in order to improve on the question itself, provide alternate answers, and to discuss why the question may not be the important thing to look at after all.

In Prometheus's Brother, Thomas looks even deeper, taking you on a journey through time from creation to the present day, and along the way looks at philosophy, cultural and legal implications of the human approaches to identifying and understanding animals, and the ramifications of humans playing god in the sandbox that is Earth.

Along the way, you'll learn a lot about camels, clay, and catastrophe, and every chapter will leave you educated in areas you may not have expected. And I guarantee you'll be pondering the likely winners and losers of the 6th Extinction long after you close this book.

Rory Alsop, June 2016, Scotland