Have you met James Hutton?
James Hutton: 1726-1797 - Discovery of Deep-Time
James Hutton: 1726-1797 - Discovery of Deep-Time
Theory of the Earth (1785)
“There never was a Devonian period, just as there never was a Cambrian, Jurassic, Triassic etc. period. That's because there never was a Geologic Column. That is a 19th century construct that has no data whatsoever to support it. ... Fossils are jumbled, in no pattern whatsoever.”
No data? Seriously? Has Psalm ever looked? I ask because it’s easy to track down when our understanding started in the late 1700s. That’s when a handful of curious observant individuals struggled to make sense of what they saw laid out across their country. In particular there was James Hutton the geologist, physician, farmer, canal builder who spent decades trying to understand the varied, sometimes downright bizarre rock exposures and landscapes throughout England and beyond.
Open University BBC S236 Ep 1 of 16 James Hutton
I ask because it’s easy to track down when our understanding started in the late 1700s. For instance James Hutton, the geologist, physician, farmer, canal builder who spent decades trying to understand the varied, sometimes downright bizarre rock exposures and landscapes throughout England and beyond.
Hutton was able to classify these exposures into specific rock types. Among other revelations he showed how at some point in the distant past hot lava moved through what was then claimed to be the oldest rock type, thus deforming the land. Furthermore, this had to have happened at extreme depths, though now the rocks lay at the surface.
Hutton’s work introduced humanity to Deep Time since it made clear that Earth was actually unimaginably older that the good Preacher Ussher’s six thousand year assertion. Here I share a couple videos focusing on Hutton work and accomplishments.
The first is older Open University BBC S236 Ep 1 of 16 James Hutton - Geologist (Geology) - OU Milton Keynes & the BBC (London). You could say it’s more scholarly, the second one is more polished. Both wonderfully informative productions that compliment each other.
BBC Men of Rock 1 of 3 Deep Time -
Iain Stewart tells the story of James Hutton, the founding father of geology.
Book Review of Jack Repcheck’s, The Man Who Found Time (James Hutton and the discovery of the Earth’s antiquity). Perseus Books, 2003.
Reports of the National Center for Science Education
May–August 2007, Volume 27, Issue 3-4
Jack Repcheck's book is a well-written account of the career and times of James Hutton. Hutton, a well-known figure in geological circles, is the man credited with discovering so-called Deep Time. Unfortunately, Hutton's contributions to science, unlike those of Charles Lyell, remain unrecognized by the general public. Repcheck's stated task is to give Hutton his due by enlightening the general public about Hutton's seminal contribution to our understanding of earth history.
As Repcheck paints his portrait of Hutton, he takes us through the period of the Scottish Enlightenment and the history of Scotland at that time. Repcheck does a decent job at situating Hutton in his proper cultural and historical context. Hutton, as Repcheck notes, was part of the Scottish Enlightenment, one of the most astonishing periods of original thought and intellectual contribution in recorded history (earning Edinburgh the moniker of "the Athens of the North").
Other figures of this remarkable era in Scotland are the economist Adam Smith, the sociologist Adam Ferguson, the philosopher and historian David Hume, the poet Robert Burns, the novelist Sir Walter Scott, and the great chemist Joseph Black. Beyond the general background material of Hutton's life, Repcheck also introduces the reader to Hutton's scientific contributions. …
HUTTON’S UNCONFORMITY AND THE BIRTH OF ‘DEEP TIME’
The Magazine on Fossils, Geology & Minerals.
Dr Mark Wilkinson (UK)
I sometimes ask a question to students in an introductory class about geology: “What is the most famous geological site in the world?” For students from the western hemisphere, the Grand Canyon in the USA is a popular choice.
However, if you were to ask the same question to a group of geologists, you might get a different answer, and one option is Siccar Point on the coast some 65km southeast of Edinburgh in Scotland. …
Part 1 -- James Hutton and “Deep Time”
A report with some excellent old diagrams and images of Siccar Point
“Unless otherwise noted the artwork and photographs in this slide show are original and © by Burt Carter,” but I found nothing regarding the author him/herself. ...
Siccar Point, 1788, geologic history’s most significant site.
James Hutton, father of modern geology, visited Siccar Point by boat in 1788, an event which led to a profound change in the way the history of the Earth was understood. A man ahead of his time, James Hutton used the evidence from Siccar Point to decode Earth processes and to argue for a much greater length of geological time than was popularly accepted.
As John Playfair later recorded of their visit “The mind seemed to grow giddy by looking so far into the abyss of time”. A concept of ‘deep time’ emerged with the recognition that the geological processes occurring around us today have operated over a long period and will continue to do so into the future. …
How to think about… Deep time
December 10, 2014, By Graham Lawton
It's easy to measure time using human lifespans, but peering down the billions of years of Earth's history can give you vertigo
In June 1788, Scottish geologist James Hutton took his colleagues John Playfair and James Hall to Siccar Point on the Berwickshire coast. To unenlightened eyes, the rocky promontory would have appeared eternal and unchanging. But Hutton and his fellow travellers knew better. As Playfair later wrote: “The mind seemed to grow giddy by looking so far into the abyss of time.”
Visit Siccar Point …
Little more than a century earlier the Primate of All Ireland, Archbishop James Ussher, had used the Bible and other sources to pinpoint the date of creation to Sunday 23 October 4004 BC. Isaac Newton disagreed: he thought the year was 3988 BC. Then, as now, deep time went deeply against the grain of common sense.
“Measuring things against a human lifespan is a normal and natural way to think,” says John McNeill, an environmental historian at Georgetown University in Washington DC.
Through the heroic efforts of Hutton and many after him, we now know that Earth is around 4.54 billion years old and the universe about 13.8 billion. Our world is almost inconceivably old. …
Ages in Chaos: James Hutton and the Discovery of Deep Time
By Stephen Baxter Hardcover – October 14, 2004
James Hutton (1726–1797) was the father of modern geology, but as Baxter reveals, fellow scientists in Enlightenment Scotland didn't take to his ideas right away. Although more than a century earlier James Ussher had famously propounded that the beginning of the world as 4004 B.C., by the 18th century, fossils and other geological evidence were undermining that proposition. Hutton's principle of uniformitarianism—which holds that if physical laws are viewed as consistent throughout time, present conditions must be the result of processes similar to those observable today—showed that the earth had to be much, much older than Ussher claimed.
When he presented his theory to the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1785, however, it met with sharp resistance because of the theory's radical nature and Hutton's failure to present experimental evidence. Only after admirers subtly repackaged Hutton's ideas did they became genuinely influential not just in geology but, indirectly, on Charles Darwin's concept of evolution. …
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