Emily Thiem

Understanding the enormous timescales in our planet’s long history can be difficult — practically mind-boggling. But Marcia Bjornerud hopes her new book Timefulness: How Thinking Like A Geologist Can Help Save The World makes that history accessible and helps us grasp the magnitude of our effects on the planet.

The professor of geology at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wis., says the term "timefulness" is a counterpoint to timelessness.

Daniela A Nievergelt / Flickr

The water slides in the Wisconsin Dells today are a strange, accidental metaphor for the area's geological history. 

An ice dam that broke towards the end of the last Ice Age sent water from a glacial lake down the Wisconsin River, carving the fanatical sandstone cliffs that distinguish the Dells today.

That's one of many reasons why geologist Marcia Bjornerus sees beyond the Wisconsin Dells' water parks, tacky shirt shops, and salt water taffy.