Traces of Bygone Biospheres – Lapo

In this post, we will see the book Traces of Bygone Biospheres by A. V. Lapo. The book is an introduction to the ideas of the biosphere which were first proposed by remarkable Soviet scientist V. I. Vernadsky.  The book explores his ideas and their long-lasting influence on a variety of disciplines.


About the book from the Preface:

A teaching of the biosphere has developed – a science which stands in its own right and cannot be reduced either to geography or biology, but makes use of their advances and results, and, in turn, influences the development of geology. The founder of this science was the brilliant Russian scientist Vladimir Ivanovich Vernadsky (1863-1945).

This book will describe the biosphere and the role of life in geological processes; reading it, you will leam about the scientists who dealt with these problems and, above all about V. I. Vernadsky himself. His name is bound up with the problems treated in this book, just as the name of Albert Einstein is bound up with the theory of relativity. The highest moral qualities of Vernadsky and Einstein also bring them together. And, evidently, it is not by chance that the greatest scientific discoveries of the twentieth century were made by such irreproachable personalities as Vernadsky and Einstein. “To all who knew him, even slightly, he will remain an ideal of a man of high purpose and purity of character and a scientist who never lost his interest in the search for knowledge” -this is what one of Vernadsky’s contemporaries wrote about him.

About the author (from the backcover):

Andrey Vitalyevich Lapo, Cand. Sci. (Min.), a geologist and writer on geology, now with the All-Union Geological Institute in Leningrad, is a member of the Soviet Botanical and Paleontological Societies. His interests include substance analysis of fossil fuels, and the role of life in geological processes. He is one of the originators of the phyteral analysis of fossil fuels. Lapo authored about 50 publications and co-authored Petrographic Types of Coals of the USSR (Ed. A. A. Lyuber) (USSR: Nedra) and Rational Complex of Petrographic and Chemical Methods of Investigations of Coals and Combustible Shales (USSR: Nedra).

The book was translated from the Russian by V. Purto and was first published by Mir in 1982. This book was also reprinted in the Science for Everyone series. The current scan is for the 1982 book and not the SFE series.

PDF | OCR | Cover | Bookmarked | 228 pp. | 12 MB

The Internet Archive link for the book.

Note: The scanning of the book was an adventure in itself. The pages of the book and its spine were very brittle. The pages were so brittle that just turning the pages separated them from the spine. At end of the scan, the book was almost separated into individual pages. The physical copy of the book was almost destroyed in the scanning process and I hope the creation of the electronic copy justifies it.

The white images on the cover are from Ernst Haeckel’s Kunstformen der Natur (Art Forms of Nature). Art Forms of Nature is an amazing book, if you have not seen it you must. You may explore these aesthetic and amazing drawings at the Biodiversity Heritage Library.


To the English-speaking Reader 6

Strange Fate (Foreword) 9

Biosphere 17

Living Matter 45

Most Powerful Geological Force 77

Three Factors: Bio-, Eco- and Tapho- 115

Metabiosphere 151 Conclusion 209

Glossary of Special Terms 210

Bibliography 215

Illustrations 217


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