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The Deep Hot Biosphere: The Myth of Fossil Fuels

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  136 ratings  ·  21 reviews
Suppose someone claimed that we are not running out of petroleum? Or that life on Earth began below the surface of our planet? Or that oil and gas are not "fossil fuels"? Or that if we find extraterrestrial life it is likely to be within, not on, other planets? You might expect to hear statements like these from an author of science fiction. But what if they came from a re ...more
Paperback, 243 pages
Published May 18th 2001 by Copernicus Books (first published November 6th 1998)
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Aug 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
Thomas Gold got a lot of criticism for this book, especially allegations that it was plagiarism of Nikolai Kudryavtsev's research in the Soviet Union. Abiogenic Hydrocarbon theorists are generally treated with as much regard as flat-earth believers, but Gold proposes a very convincing hypothesis.

The impact of petroleum coming from Abiogenic sources is one that cannot be stressed, as it would completely shatter the "Peak Oil" mindset that has become so predominant and influential in politics. Ho
Marcella Burnard
Apr 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Really interesting piece of science writing. I love that Thomas Gold wrote the entire book and spoke only of hypothesis, evidence and then suggested follow up research. Most science writers currently put forth hypothesis as if it were fact, which annoys me. I'm sure they cry all the way to the bank. Anyway, the writing is clear, the concepts are very well explained and the ideas are really, truly interesting. The science of extremophiles is particularly useful when I'm trying to build another wo ...more
Bro (Dave Kurimsky)
Feb 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This is a great book. It presents a theory that:

1. Oil is not decayed organic matter.
2. Oil appears organic because microorganisms live in it.
3. These microorganisms predate and gave rise to ocean life and eventually surface life.
4. That every planet in our solar system may have similar ecosystems existing deep below its surface.

It's a very accessible and enjoyable book. The author was not a "crackpot" but a well respected if maverick scientist, often right, often wron
Eric Tanafon
Feb 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
A very thought-provoking book. Gold goes beyond just reviewing the evidence for an abiogenetic origin for petroleum--he goes on to offer alternate explanations for earthquakes, concentrations of certain metals occurring in the earth's crust, and speculations on extra-terrestial and intra-terrestial life. What he's building here is really more like a geological 'theory of everything'.

I did a quick search to see if his ideas had gained any traction since the book's publication, and fou
Art Tirrell
Oct 04, 2007 rated it really liked it

The recent report of oil discovered in igneous rock many miles beneath the floor of the Gulf of Mexico led me to re-visit this avant-guarde 1999 book.

Whenever established ideas - such as the biogenesis theory of oil formation (1870)- are accepted without question, new evidence that conflicts tends to be brushed aside and often not reported because it doesn't fit. Such a situation exists within the science of geology, the author insists, and goes on to d
Jun 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The conventional wisdom for a very long time on hydrocarbons has been that they are the end product of the decaying matter of plants and animals. Thomas Gold examines the massive contradictory evidence and physical science that overwhelmingly suggests otherwise. Hydrocarbons are part of the primordial material that formed the planet during its accretion and well up from great depth.

Gold's book also addresses the evidence that there is a deep biosphere that uses a hydrocarbon-based me
Charlie George
Oct 30, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Geologists, all in the oil industry
A fascinating defense of the abiogenic origin of oil, the hypothesis that hydrocarbons are ancient materials, generally originating in the Earth's mantle and upwelling through the crust where they are reprocessed by microbes and mistaken for decayed organic matter.

Gold's book delves into all manner of implications and insights based on this premise. He comments on the origin of life, the possibility of life beneath the surface of other planets, earthquake instigation, the source of h
Apr 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is a provocative book. I am not versed in the geology and chemistry to evaluate the hypothesis that the book propounds. The hypothesis is that fossil fuels (natural gas, LPG, crude oil, coal) are not fossil fuels at all, but are formed from hydrocarbons that were trapped in the earth's mantle during the formation of the earth itself, primarily ethane (C2H6) and methane (CH4), and that those gases along with others such as hydrogen sulfide (H2S) provide the chemical energy required to sustai ...more
Sep 08, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Gold makes a very strong justification for the primordial origins of hydrocarbons (as a challenge to the biogenic "fossil fuels" status quo) and a less strong case for the deep hot biosphere. I have to say that, although I realize my ignorance of virtually every body of science involved, I'm very near convinced. At the very least, the book managed to excite me about domains I'd never felt much excitement for... and that means it's an excellent book worth anyone's time.
Andrew Fish
Nov 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science
With recent breakthroughs producing oil from the air artificially, Gold's premise that the process happens in nature has gained in credibility in the years since I read this.

The book itself is interesting, if not particularly fluid, but the real fascination is in thought experiments about what it means if the theory is correct.
John G
Dec 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Although the "Steady State" theory of the universe of which he was an author was overturned by the current Big Band model, his paper on the workings of the human inner ear written in the 1940s, was proven correct in the 1970s decades later after it was rejected by the establishment.

Illustrative of the sweep of his enquiries from Cosmology to feedback mechanisms inside the human ear is this book on what is labeled the Abiogenic formation of petroleum deep in the earths crust leading him to propo
Chris Fellows
Jul 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
Okay, I've finished Thomas Gold's "The Deep Hot Biosphere" and have decided that I'm not quite ready to shout 'Eureka!' and say that this will be the continental drift of the 21st century.

Overall the chemistry seems pretty solid, and the model makes sense in terms of the likely process of planetary evolution, but I need to wander off and check some more recent primary references. Most intriguing is the information about helium and heavy metal distribution in hydrocarbons, which really doe
Sean Jenan
Mar 23, 2012 rated it liked it
The speculations are probably all wrong, the science is most likely outdated, the writing is... strained. But the ideas are so darned interesting it earned itself an extra star. I mostly enjoyed following the thought-process of a stubborn and truly original thinker, who takes an idea and follows a branching tree of interesting implications, providing ideas for experiments along the way that will demonstrate or refute his conjecture. I'm not interested in re-fighting the biogenic/abiogenic oil controv ...more
Feb 17, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone who likes science and who's brain is not "fossilized"!
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 10, 2010 rated it really liked it
I remember reading about this theory in the Atlanta Monthly in the mid 1980's It has been suggested that Gold actually borrowed heavily from Soviet scientists who proposed the idea that oil is not a fossil fuel many years earlier. The book suffers from Gold's writing style. However, the ideas are revolutionary and I strongly suspect he will be proven right. So much for peak oil. He contends that the real fossil fuel is the oxygen in the atmosphere and will will run out of oxygen well before we r ...more
Jul 22, 2008 rated it really liked it
Very, very interesting. very different than anything they told you in school. not enough hard science to back it up, but wow what a different perspective.
Dec 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
An interesting book discussing an alternative hypothesis for the formation of petroleum. Some technical information, but easy to understand.
Jun 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
Wishful thinking, but it was pretty interesting. In many respects Gold seemed to know little about the study of geology, except that it existed.
Nancy Hudson
Feb 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
A must read if you want to know the true facts about petroleum and why we are NOT running out of oil and never will! Highly recommend a science background to read this book.
Leslie Pendergrass
Jun 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book, being written by a scientist, is excellent. It helped to firm up my thoughts on the world of oil, coal, and gas, and the Earth in general. I highly recommend this book.
Mike Hurt
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May 21, 2008
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Oct 18, 2013
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Massimo Spiga
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Mar 03, 2016
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Oct 12, 2008
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Jul 16, 2012
Tom Glaser
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Jun 02, 2012
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May 08, 2009
Nathan McKnight
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May 06, 2012
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Tommy Gold is an Austrian-born American polymath and astrophysicist who has done pioneering work in cosmology, pulsars, and lunar science, informing the world that neutrons are unstable, with a mean lifetime of ten minutes.

Born in Vienna, Gold became a refugee from the Austrian Anschluss and gained his BA in 1942 from Cambridge University, England. He lectured there in physics from 194