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Find Your Science at GSA
5 June 2009
GSA Release No. 09-30
Christa Stratton
Director of Education, Communication, & Outreach
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Shaping Modern Geology

Boulder, CO, USA - The 20 chapters in this new GSA Memoir explore how modern geology began to take shape during a momentous period of Western civilization when a revolution in understanding spatial relationships transformed the paradigm of nature and the affairs of humankind.

From Renaissance artists' conceptualization of landscape to Baroque anatomist Nicholas Steno's geometric studies of the hills of Tuscany, the study of anatomy facilitated the structure of early modern geologic thought. Isaac Newton's organic alchemy appeared antecedent to modern geochemistry, and Athanasius Kircher's biologic analogies of Earth presaged Hutton's paradigmatic model. Papers on Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson's geological and paleontological studies, on British resistance to French evolutionary theory, and on Darwin's refutation of the argument that natural laws require a lawgiver reveal that, from the Enlightenment on, this spatial reorganization facilitated the idea of evolution and of the individual's potential for change in the new social order of democracy. Anatomist, artist, and astronomer, Galileo's "il lume naturale" inspired Charles Peirce's modern essays on historical science that bring geologic thought to the debate over the anthropic principle in cosmology.

Volume editor Gary Rosenberg of Indiana University–Purdue University says the idea and encouragement for this volume stemmed from a sabbatical in Copenhagen, Denmark, where he met many of the scholars devoted to the life and accomplishments of Nicholas Steno, "preeminent Baroque polymath and founder of modern geologic thought." Rosenberg's goal was to pursue the connection between Steno and art history. "Within art history," says Rosenberg, "lie clues that explain the breadth of Steno's accomplishments in fields that we now consider unrelated, anatomy and geology, but which were then considered integral exemplars of the same geometric paradigm of nature."

Individual copies of the volume may be purchased through the Geological Society of America online store, or by contacting GSA Sales and Service, .

Book editors of earth science journals/publications may request a review copy by contacting Jeanette Hammann, .

The Revolution in Geology from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment
Gary D. Rosenberg (editor)
Geological Society of America Memoir 203
2009, 283 pages, US80.00, GSA member price US$56.00
ISBN 978-0-8137-1203-1