Widely dismissed as crank science in earlier generations, the theory of plate tectonics--which explains the movement of continents in geological time, as well as the formation of the earth's major features--is now largely accepted as fact within the scientific community.
Drawing on the memories of major theoreticians in the field, scientist and historian Naomi Oreskes offers a vivid history of just how that transformation occurred. She describes the early quest on the part of James Dana, Alfred Wegner, J. H. Hodgson, and other scientists to account for the mechanics of earthquakes and certain puzzling features of geomorphology, a quest widened and strengthened by the work of deep-ocean explorers who were able, beginning in the 1960s, to study tectonics at work far below the surface of the world's waters. Such advances, as pioneer Peter Molnar and others explain, did not immediately change the way geologists went about their work, but they quickly went on to revolutionize science--and then, as such things do, to become orthodox.
A useful reference for students of geology and the history of science, this book is also easily accessible to nonspecialists. --Gregory McNamee --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Readers who went to school before the late 1960s will probably remember that their science teachers couldn't explain why South America and Africa seemed to fit together like pieces in a jigsaw puzzle. It was not until 1968 that the theory of plate tectonics was formulated and quickly accepted by scientists around the world. This collection of 18 essays is written by the researchers (such as Frederick J. Vine and Lawrence Morley) who made the discoveries that established the phenomenon of plate tectonics. While the idea of "continental drift" had been proposed as early as 1596 and reappeared at various times throughout history, scientists had always rejected it. Then in the late 1950s and '60s, geologists discovered great rifts in the undersea mountain ranges that girdle the ocean, as well as regular patterns of alternating magnetic polarities in the ocean floor. These and other findings confirmed continental drift and explained the existence of volcanic islands and even earthquakes en masse. Readers with little or no background in geology will be able to follow these well-written and generally jargon-free personal accounts, but the book will appeal most to hard-core science buffs and budding geophysicists.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title. See all Editorial Reviews
Wonderful book! The first person accounts of the scientists involved in the validation of Wegener's ideas were memorable and interesting. Read morePublished 18 days ago by Kelly Terry
Accounts written by the individuals directly involved in the generation of a new way of looking at the earth. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Lewis T. Fitch
Scientific America published the first article on Plates that ever read. Sorry I did not keep that issue. Read morePublished 18 months ago by William N Jensen
I initially read this book from the public library and liked it so well, I decided to buy it for my technical library. Read morePublished on December 17, 2012 by GH Cameron
This is a wonderfully rewarding book on several levels. I enjoyed learning how modern geological concepts emerged from new and revisited data. Read morePublished on December 4, 2012 by Langiller