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Early Geology

Duration:
45 minutes
First broadcast:
Thursday 12 April 2012

Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the emergence of geology as a scientific discipline. A little over two hundred years ago a small group of friends founded the Geological Society of London. This organisation was the first devoted to furthering the discipline of geology - the study of the Earth, its history and composition.

Although geology only emerged as a separate area of study in the late eighteenth century, many earlier thinkers had studied rocks, fossils and the materials from which the Earth is made. Ancient scholars in Egypt and Greece speculated about the Earth and its composition. And in the Renaissance the advent of mining brought further insight into the nature of objects found underground and how they got there. But how did such haphazard study of rocks and fossils develop into a rigorous scientific discipline?

With:

Stephen Pumfrey
Senior Lecturer in the History of Science at Lancaster University

Andrew Scott
Professor of Applied Palaeobotany at Royal Holloway, University of London

Leucha Veneer
Research Associate at the Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine at the University of Manchester.

Producer: Thomas Morris.

  • FURTHER READING

    Claude C. Albritton, ‘The Abyss of Time: Changing Conceptions of the Earth's Antiquity After the Sixteenth Century’ (Dover, 2002)

    Peter J. Bowler, ‘The Fontana History of the Environmental Sciences’ (Fontana, 1992)

    Alan Cutler, ‘The Seashell on the Mountaintop: A Story of Science, Sainthood, and the Humble Genius Who Discovered a New History of the Earth’ (Arrow, 2004)

    David Freedberg, ‘The Eye of the Lynx: Galileo, His Friends and the Beginnings of Modern Natural History’ (University of Chicago Press, 2003)

    Gabriel Gohau, Albert V. Carozzi, Marguerite Carozzi, ‘A History of Geology’ (Rutgers University Press, 2006)

    G. L. Herries Davies, ‘Whatever is Under the Earth: The Geological Society of London 1807 to 2007’ (Geological Society, 2007)

    D. B. McIntyre and A. McKirdy, ‘James Hutton: The Founder of Modern Geology’ (NMSE Publishing Ltd, 2012)

    Roy Porter, ‘The Making of Geology: Earth Science in Britain 1660–1815’ (Cambridge, 2008)

    Martin J. S. Rudwick, ‘The Meaning of Fossils: Episodes in the History of Palaeontology’ (University of Chicago Press, 1985)

    Martin J. S. Rudwick, ‘Bursting the Limits of Time: The Reconstruction of Geohistory in the Age of Revolution’ (University of Chicago Press, 2005)

    A. C. Scott and D. Freedberg, ‘The Paper Museum of Cassiano dal Pozzo’ (Harvey Miller Publications, 2000)

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