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History of Geology

History of Geology

What rocks tell and how we came to understand it

How Volcanoes became a Symbol for Revolution

More than a year ago a wave of uprisings and insurrections in the North African countries of Tunisia, Egypt and Libya inspired a cartoon (still visible on the geology blog " Pawn of the Pumice Castle ") comparing the rage of the people with a sort of magma chamber ready to erupt.The use of natural forces as metaphor has a long tradition, especially phenomena as fire, floods or storms were often associated with negative historic events like war, invasions or plagues.During the 18th century the European revolutions against aristocracy and monarchy, especially the French revolution of 1789-1799, changed this negative to a positive view...

February 19, 2012 — David Bressan

Darwin the Geologist

In an autobiographic note Charles Robert Darwin (February 12, 1809 - 1882) remembered a childhood wish:" It was soon after I began collecting stones, i.e., when 9 or 10, that I distinctly recollect the desire I had of being able to know something about every pebble in front of the hall door--it was my earliest and only geological aspiration at that time...

February 12, 2012 — David Bressan

Frauds, Fakes and Fossils

" What are they? Creations of mind?- The mind can make Substance, and people planets of its own With beings brighter than have been, and give A breath to forms which can outlive all flesh "" The Dream ", Lord Bryon (1788-1824)In the year 1725 the professor of medicine and personal physician of the bishop of the German town of Würzburg, Dr...

February 7, 2012 — David Bressan

Forensic Seismology

On July 25, 1946 the United States detonated the first underwater nuclear weapon in history - code name " Baker " - at the Bikini Atoll . The explosion generated a gas bubble that pushed against the water, generating a supersonic shock wave which crushed the hulls of nearby target ships as it spread out...

January 23, 2012 — David Bressan

January 17, 1995: The Kobe earthquake and early Antiseismic Architecture

In the morning of January 17, 1995 a strong earthquake hit the Japanese city of Kobe and despite the modern city infrastructure was assumed earthquake-proof more than 6.000 people were killed, 26.800 injured, 46.000 buildings destroyed or damaged and more than 300.000 people were made homeless.The Kobe earthquake lasted for 14 to 20 seconds and reached a magnitude of 7.2 after Richter (7 according to the Japanese intensity scale - shindo , the maximal possible value), the strongest earthquake in western Japan since 1923...

January 17, 2012 — David Bressan

Post-Disaster Recovery: Lessons from the 2010 Haiti earthquake

November 1, 1755 the city of Lisbon was almost completely destroyed by an earthquake followed by a tsunami, estimated 30.000-100.000 people died. For the first time in history a kind of crisis management was organized to deal with the aftermath of this disaster...

January 12, 2012 — David Bressan

Deciphering the Layers of Earth

"This was the man to whom all things were known; this was the king who knew the countries of the world. He was wise, he saw mysteries and knew secret things, he brought us a tale of the days before the flood...

January 12, 2012 — David Bressan

January 6, 1912: Continental Drift!

" Beautiful is what we see, More beautiful is what we understand, Most beautiful is what we do not comprehend. "Anatomist and self-educated geologist Nicolaus Steno , 1673January 6, 1912 the German meteorologist Alfred Wegener presented in a lecture entitled " Die Heraushebung der Großformen der Erdrinde (Kontinente und Ozeane) auf geophysikalischer Grundlage " (The uprising of large features of earth's crust (Continents and Oceans) on geophysical basis) for the first time his hypothesis of the ancient supercontinent Pangaea , from which all modern continents split apart.Three years later he will publish his book " Entstehung der Kontinente und Ozeane ", translated in the third edition and published in 1922 as " The origin of continents and oceans...

January 6, 2012 — David Bressan

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