geology

Arthur Holmes and the Age of the Earth

Arthur Holmes and the Age of the Earth

On January 14, 1890, British geologist Arthur Holmes was born. Holmes pioneered the use of radiometric dating of minerals and was the first earth scientist to grasp the mechanical and thermal implications of mantle convection, which led eventually to the acceptance of plate tectonics. “There are few problems more fascinating than those that are bound up with the bold question: How old is the Earth? With insatiable curiosity men have been trying…
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Sir William Hamilton and the Volcanoes

Sir William Hamilton and the Volcanoes

On December 13, 1730, Scottish diplomat, antiquarian, archaeologist and vulcanologist Sir William Hamilton was born. Hamilton served as British Ambassador to the Kingdom of Naples from 1764 to 1800, where he studied the volcanoes Vesuvius and also Etna on Sicily. William Hamilton – Early Years Hamilton was born in either London or at Park Place, Berkshire, the fourth son of Lord Archibald Hamilton, governor of Jamaica, and Lady Jane Hamilton. His mother…
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Sir Edward Sabine and the Earth’s Magnetic Field

Sir Edward Sabine and the Earth’s Magnetic Field

On October 14, 1788, Irish astronomer, geophysicist, ornithologist, explorer, soldier and the 30th President of the Royal Society Sir Edward Sabine was born. His aim was to study the shape of the Earth and its magnetic field. He led the effort to establish a system of magnetic observatories in various parts of British territory all over the globe, and much of his life was devoted to their direction, and to analyzing their…
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Pierre Louis Maupertuis – The Man who flattened the Earth

Pierre Louis Maupertuis – The Man who flattened the Earth

On September 28, 1698, French mathematician, philosopher and man of letters Pierre Louis Maupertuis was born. Maupertuis made an expedition to Lapland to determine the shape of the Earth. He is also credited with having invented the principle of least action, an integral equation that determines the path followed by a physical system. “Nature always uses the simplest means to accomplish its effects.” – Formulation of the principle of least action, as…
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The Biosphere 2 Missions – Failures and Lessons Learned

The Biosphere 2 Missions – Failures and Lessons Learned

On September 26, 1991, the first mission of Biosphere 2 began. Biosphere 2 is an Earth systems science research facility located in Oracle, Arizona, built to be an artificial, materially closed ecological system, or vivarium. It remains the largest closed system ever created. Biosphere 2 in Oracle, Arizona Biosphere 2 was constructed between 1987 and 1991 by Space Biosphere Ventures and was named Biosphere 2 because it was meant to be the…
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Abraham Gottlob Werner and the School of Neptunism

Abraham Gottlob Werner and the School of Neptunism

On September 25, 1749, German geologist Abraham Gottlob Werner was born. He is best known for his early theory about the stratification of the Earth’s crust. Moreover, he propounded an earth history that others labeled Neptunism that states that holding that all rocks have aqueous origins. While most tenets of Neptunism were eventually set aside, science is indebted to Werner for clearly demonstrating the chronological succession of rocks, for the zeal which…
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Jean-Baptiste Louis Romé de L’Isle and the Beauty of Crystals

Jean-Baptiste Louis Romé de L’Isle and the Beauty of Crystals

On August 26, 1736, French physicist and mineralogist Jean-Baptiste Louis Romé de L’Isle was born. He is considered as one of the creators of modern crystallography. Driven by Carl Linnaeus‘ classification of living things [1], Romé de L’Isle tried to transfer this to inanimate nature and thus created the first systematics of crystals. Romé de L’Isle – Youth and Travels Jean-Baptiste Louis Romé de L’Isle was born in in Gray, Haute-Saône, in eastern…
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Charles Lapworth and the Ordovician Period

Charles Lapworth and the Ordovician Period

On March 13, 1920, English geologist Charles Lapworth passed away. Lapworth pioneered faunal analysis using index fossils and identified the Ordovician period, the second of six of the Paleozoic Era, which covers the time between 485.4 and 443.8 million years ago. Education And Academic Career Charles Lapworth was born at Faringdon in Berkshire (now Oxfordshire), the son of James Lapworth. He waseducated as a teacher at the Culham Diocesan Training College near Abingdon, Oxfordshire.…
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Giovanni Alfonso Borelli and the Science of Biomechanics

Giovanni Alfonso Borelli and the Science of Biomechanics

On January 28, 1608, Renaissance Italian physiologist, physicist, and mathematician Giovanni Alfonso Borelli was born. Trained in mathematics, Borelli also made extensive studies of Jupiter’s moons, the mechanics of animal locomotion and, in microscopy, of the constituents of blood. He also used microscopy to investigate the stomatal movement of plants, and undertook studies in medicine and geology. “No sensible person will deny that the works of Nature are in the highest degree…
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Matthew Fontaine Maury and the Oceanography

Matthew Fontaine Maury and the Oceanography

On January 14, 1806, American astronomer, historian, oceanographer, meteorologist, cartographer, author, geologist, and educator Matthew Fontaine Maury was born. He is often referred to as Father of Modern Oceanography and Naval Meteorology, due to the publication of his extensive works in his books, especially The Physical Geography of the Sea (1855), the first extensive and comprehensive book on oceanography to be published. Maury made many important new contributions to charting winds and…
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