978-0-434-00857-5 / 9780434008575

The Seashell on the Mountaintop: A Story of Science, Sainthood and the Humble Genius Who Discovered a New History of the Earth


Publisher:William Heinemann Ltd



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About the book:

Dubbed "the founder of modern geology" by Stephen Jay Gould, the 17th-century Danish scientist Nicolaus Steno was the first man to discover "deep time": to suggest that the existence of fossils, particularly those far away from where the animals of which they are the remains would have lived ("the seashell on the mountaintop") demanded a much longer history for the Earth than the roughly 6000 years suggested by the Bible. Steno's work was ignored for over a century: he himself dropped his geological studies without completing a university dissertation; he converted to Catholicism and later became a bishop; in 1988 he was beatified by Pope John Paul I. This work tells the story of this passionate and fascinating man, exploring his contributions to geology and his remarkable ideas on science and religion. Steno's work was eventually to transform Western ideas of time, creating not only a long past for the earth, but also the possibility of a future that was not about to be cut short by Armageddon.

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