All quotes from Vladimir Vernadsky’s

Within the biosphere, matter is markedly heterogeneous and may be distinguished as inert matter or living matter. The inert matter greatly predominates in mass or volume. There is a continual migration of atoms from the inert matter to living matter and back again.

There is a continual stream of atoms passing to and from living organisms from and into the biosphere. Within the organisms a vast and changing number of molecules are produced by processes not otherwise known in the biosphere.

In everyday life one used to speak of man as an individual, living and moving freely about our planet, freely building up his history. Until recently the historians and the students of the humanities, and to a certain extent even the biologists, consciously failed to reckon with the natural laws of the biosphere, the only terrestrial envelope where life can exist. Basically man cannot be separated from it; it is only now that this indissolubility begins to appear clearly and in precise terms before us. He is geologically connected with its material and energetic structure. Actually no living organism exists on earth in a state of freedom. All organisms are connected indissolubly and uninterruptedly, first of all through nutrition and respiration, with the circumambient material and energetic medium. Outside it they cannot exist in a natural condition.

In our country that First World War resulted in a new, historically unprecedented, form of statehood, not only in the realm of economic, but likewise in that of the aspirations of nationalities. From the point of view of the naturalist (and, I think, likewise from that of the historian) an historical phenomenon of such power may and should be examined as a part of a single great terrestrial geological process, and not merely as a historical process.

Instead of the concept of “life,” I introduced that of “living matter,” which now seems to be firmly established in science. “Living matter” is the totality of living organisms.

In the course of geological time, living matter morphologically changes according to the laws of nature. The history of living matter expresses itself as a slow modification of the forms of living organisms which genetically are uninterruptedly connected among themselves from generation to generation.

Man, under our very eyes, is becoming a mighty and ever-growing geological force.

In the twentieth century, man, for the first time in the history of the earth, knew and embraced the whole biosphere, completed the geographic map of the planet Earth, and colonized its whole surface. Mankind became a single totality in the life of the earth.

The whole of mankind put together represents an insignificant mass of the planet’s matter. Its strength is derived not from its matter, but from its brain. If man understands this, and does not use his brain and his work for self-destruction, an immense future is open before him in the geological history of the biosphere.

Mankind taken as a whole is becoming a mighty geological force. There arises the problem of the reconstruction of the biosphere in the interests of freely thinking humanity as a single totality. This new state of the biosphere, which we approach without our noticing it, is the noösphere.

The noösphere is a new geological phenomenon on our planet. In it, for the first time, man becomes a large-scale geological force. He can and must rebuild the province of his life by his work and thought, rebuild it radically in comparison with the past. Wider and wider creative possibilities open before him.