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For his grandfather, the American doctor, see Walter C. Alvarez. This biographical article needs additional citations for verification. Please help by adding reliable sources. Contentious material about living persons that is unsourced or poorly sourced must be removed immediately, especially if potentially libelous or harmful. (April 2011) Walter Alvarez (born October 3, 1940) is a professor in the Earth and Planetary Science department at the University of California, Berkeley. He is most widely known for the theory that dinosaurs were killed by an asteroid impact, developed in collaboration with his father, Nobel Prize winning physicist Luis Alvarez. Contents 1 Biography 2 Impact theory 3 Big History 4 Awards and honors 5 Further reading 6 External links 7 References Biography Luis and Walter Alvarez (L-R) at the K-T Boundary in Gubbio, Italy 1981 (Photo: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory ) Born in Berkeley, California, he earned his B.A. in geology in 1962 from Carleton College in Minnesota and Ph.D. in geology from Princeton University in 1967. His grandfather is the famed physician Walter C. Alvarez and his great-grandfather, Spanish-born Luis F. Alvarez, who worked as a doctor in Hawaii, developed a method for the better diagnosis of macular leprosy. His great-aunt Mabel Alvarez was a noted California artist and oil painter. He worked for American Overseas Petroleum Limited in the Netherlands, and in Libya at the time of Colonel Gadaffi’s revolution. Having developed a side interest in archaeological geology, he left the oil company and spent some time in Italy, studying the Roman volcanics and their influence on patterns of settlement in early Roman times. Alvarez then moved to Lamont-Doherty Geological Observatory of Columbia University, and began studying the Mediterranean tectonics in the light of the new theory of plate tectonics. His work on tectonic paleomagnetism in Italy led to a study of the geomagnetic reversals recorded in Italian deep-sea limestones, and he and his colleagues were able to date the reversals for an interval of more than 100 million years of Earth history. Impact theory Alvarez and his father Luis W. Alvarez are most widely known for their discovery (with Frank Asaro and Helen Michel) that a clay layer occurring right at the Cretaceous-Tertiary (K-T) boundary was highly enriched in the element iridium. Since iridium enrichment is common in asteroids, but very uncommon on the Earth, they further postulated that the layer had been created by the impact of a large asteroid with the Earth and that this impact event was the likely cause of the Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction event.[1] This iridium enrichment has now been observed in many other sites around the world. And further, the very large Chicxulub crater was identified and is now regarded as the definitive evidence of a large impact. Consequently, a majority of scientists now accept the impact scenario as the most likely cause for the K-T extinction event which occurred 65 million years ago and eliminated 75% of all species,[2] including all non-avian dinosaurs. His book, T. Rex and the Crater of Doom, details the discovery of the K-T extinction event. In addition to his interest in extinction events and impacts, Alvarez has contributed to the understanding of Mediterranean tectonics, Roman geology and archeology, and the establishment of magnetostratigraphic correlations. Big History Alvarez began teaching a course in Big History at UC Berkeley in 2006 under the title "Big History: Cosmos, Earth, Life, Humanity." [3] According to Alvarez, Big History is the "attempt to understand, in a unified and interdisciplinary way, the history of the Cosmos, Earth, Life and Humanity." This definition was later adopted by the International Big History Association (IBHA).[4] Alvarez's course is open to all majors and grade levels and seeks to provide a broad understanding of the past, present and future. Alvarez is also one of the founding members of the IBHA[5], presently serving on the advisory board. Alvarez's most recent contribution to the field has been the creation of a zoomable, interactive timeline for the field of Big History in partnership with Microsoft Research called ChronoZoom [6]. ChronoZoom is a computer-graphical approach to dealing with this problem of visualizing and understanding time scales, and presenting vast quantities of historical information in a useful way. [7] ChronoZoom was introduced at the 97th Annual Faculty Research Lecture at UC Berkeley.[8] Video recording of the talk. Awards and honors Alvarez is the recipient of numerous awards and honors. He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1983.[9] He was awarded the 2006 Nevada Medal, the 2008 Vetlesen Prize,[10] and the Penrose Medal from the Geological Society of America. In 2005, he received the doctorate "Honoris Causa" in Geological Sciences from the University of Siena, Italy. Further reading T. Rex and the Crater of Doom by Walter Alvarez ISBN 0-375-70210-5 The Mountains of Saint Francis: The Geologic Events that Shaped Our Earth by Walter Alvarez (W. W. Norton, December 2008) External links Walter Alvarez's Berkeley homepage ChronoZoom project homepage References ^ People and Discoveries: Alvarez finds evidence of dinosaur-killing asteroid, 1980, PBS website, accessed April 17, 2011 ^ Schulte, Peter; Alegret, Laia; Arenillas, Ignacio; Arz, Jose A.; Barton, Penny J.; Bown, Paul R.; Bralower, Timothy J.; Christeson, Gail L.; Claeys, Philippe; Cockell, Charles S.; Collins, Gareth S.; Deutsch, Alexander; Goldin, Tamara J.; Goto, Kazuhisa; Grajales-Nishimura, José M.; Grieve, Richard A. F.; Gulick, Sean P. S.; Johnson, Kirk R.; Kiessling, Wolfgang; Koeberl, Christian; Kring, David A.; MacLeod, Kenneth G.; Matsui, Takafumi; Melosh, Jay; Montanari, Alessandro; Morgan, Joanna V.; Neal,Clive R.; Nichols, Douglas J.; Norris, Richard D.; Pierazzo, Elisabetta ; Ravizza, Greg; Rebolledo-Vieyra, Mario; Uwe Reimold, Wolf; Robin, Eric ; Salge, Tobias; Speijer, Robert P.; Sweet, Arthur R.; Urrutia-Fucugauchi, Jaime; Vajda, Vivi; Whalen, Michael T.; Willumsen, Pi S. (5 March 2010). "The Chicxulub Asteroid Impact and Mass Extinction at the Cretaceous- Paleogene Boundary". Science 327 (5970): 1214–1218. doi:10.1126/science.1177265. PMID 20203042. Retrieved 2010-03-08.  ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ "Book of Members, 1780-2010: Chapter A". American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 17 April 2011.  ^ Geologist Who Linked Cosmic Strike to Dinosaurs' Extinction Takes Top Prize; The Vetlesen, on Level with Nobel, Goes to Walter Alvarez, Columbia University Earth Institute, October 16, 2008 Authority control: VIAF: 92562652 Persondata Name Alvarez, Walter Alternative names Short description American geologist Date of birth October 3, 1940 Place of birth Date of death Place of death