Four Revolutions in the Earth Sciences: From Heresy to Truth (Hardcover)

Four Revolutions in the Earth Sciences: From Heresy to Truth By James Powell Cover Image
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Over the course of the twentieth century, scientists came to accept four counterintuitive yet fundamental facts about the Earth: deep time, continental drift, meteorite impact, and global warming. When first suggested, each proposition violated scientific orthodoxy and was quickly denounced as scientific--and sometimes religious--heresy. Nevertheless, after decades of rejection, scientists came to accept each theory.

The stories behind these four discoveries reflect more than the fascinating push and pull of scientific work. They reveal the provocative nature of science and how it raises profound and sometimes uncomfortable truths as it advances. For example, counter to common sense, the Earth and the solar system are older than all of human existence; the interactions among the moving plates and the continents they carry account for nearly all of the Earth's surface features; and nearly every important feature of our solar system results from the chance collision of objects in space. Most surprising of all, we humans have altered the climate of an entire planet and now threaten the future of civilization. This absorbing scientific history is the only book to describe the evolution of these four ideas from heresy to truth, showing how science works in practice and how it inevitably corrects the mistakes of its practitioners. Scientists can be wrong, but they do not stay wrong. In the process, astonishing ideas are born, tested, and over time take root.

About the Author

James Lawrence Powell serves as executive director of the National Physical Science Consortium, a partnership among government agencies and laboratories, industry, and higher education dedicated to increasing the number of American citizens with graduate degrees in the physical sciences and related engineering fields, emphasizing recruitment of a diverse applicant pool that includes women and minorities. He received his Ph.D from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and has taught at Oberlin College and served as its acting president. He has also been president of Franklin and Marshall College, Reed College, the Franklin Institute Science Museum in Philadelphia, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History. Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush both appointed Powell to the National Science Board. He is also the author of The Inquisition of Climate Science.

Product Details
ISBN: 9780231164481
ISBN-10: 0231164483
Publisher: Columbia University Press
Publication Date: December 23rd, 2014
Pages: 384
Language: English