Sunday, 27 June 2004
Century That Earth Began To Move
CREDIT: © Roger Vaughan/Roger Vaughan Picture Library
WHERE: London, England. WHAT: portraits of 19th century geologists.
Thumbnail  clicks pop-up larger images on source web site.
Regular visitors may have noticed our occasional shallow forays into geophysics. Many of the pictures on this web site are landscape photographs of one sort or another, and we think that any appreciation of landforms is deepened by some understanding of the science that explains why these places have come to be the way they now exist.
Although this is a web site for looking at photographs rather than a geophysics course, we thought the overhead projector format beloved of academics, with forty easily read cells at WGA [Chemistry Dept., State University of West Georgia] was a good introduction. Donald L. Blanchard has a crash course in the ABCs of Plate Tectonics to get us all up to speed quickly . There are only four lessons (should that not make it the ABCDs?), and check out the author's caveat about the controversial nature of some of his hypotheses. There are links to the currently accepted explanations, but even some of these were considered radical when we were in high school.
Anyone who has not logged off, or gone to sleep, might reasonably be expected to be the sort of person whose intellectual curiosity is inflamed by this kind of wildly exciting stuff. In the past we have mentioned the Henry Mountains in Utah, and Knockan Crag in Assynt, Scotland, in the context of earth science and landscape appreciation. Many of the developments in earth science are associated with particular individuals who have made an imaginative mental leap to advance our understanding.
We were delighted to discover the Roger Vaughan picture library entitled Geologists of the Geological Society of London (19th Century). This collection contains twenty three portraits of society members from that century. For our thumbnail strip we chose five men:  Dr. William Thomas Blanford;  Dr. Hugh Falconer;  William Smith;  Prof. John Phillips; and  Dr. William Henry Fitton. Our selections were those who were photographed rather than artistically represented; other than that we just picked portraits we liked. There is one exception to the photo versus drawing rule: the man in the middle picture is William Smith (1769-1839), in an engraving from a painting by M. Foureau. More about Smith tomorrow, but you may enjoy a brief introduction, with another portrait painted by Abner Lowe in the 1920s.
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Jules Laforgue (1860-1887)
"Ah! que la vie est quotidienne."
Oh, what a day-to-day business life is.
'Complainte sur certains ennuis' (1885)