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Controversy in Victorian geology : the Cambrian-Silurian dispute

Author: James A Secord
Publisher: Princeton, New Jersey : Princeton University Press, [1986]
Edition/Format:   Print book : EnglishView all editions and formats
Summary:
James Secord provides a fascinating history of one of the most celebrated altercations in nineteenth-century science - the controversy over the proper boundary between the Cambrian and SIlurian divisions in the oldest fossil-bearing rocks. During its long and acrimonious course, this debate not only consumed the attention of its two major combatants, the leading scientists Roderick Murchison and Adam Sedgwick, but  Read more...
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Genre/Form: History
Named Person: Roderick Impey Murchison; Adam Sedgwick; Adam (Geologe) Sedgwick; Roderick Impey Murchison
Document Type: Book
All Authors / Contributors: James A Secord
ISBN: 0691084173 9780691084176
OCLC Number: 13124737
Description: xvii, 363 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
Contents: Controversy and classification --
Collaboration and contrasts --
Cambria and Siluria established --
The spread of Siluria --
Restructuring Wales --
Revivals and the Cambrian --
Professional geology and the quest for priority --
The Battle of May Hill --
The creation of alternative.
Responsibility: James A. Secord.

Abstract:

James Secord provides a fascinating history of one of the most celebrated altercations in nineteenth-century science - the controversy over the proper boundary between the Cambrian and SIlurian divisions in the oldest fossil-bearing rocks. During its long and acrimonious course, this debate not only consumed the attention of its two major combatants, the leading scientists Roderick Murchison and Adam Sedgwick, but also engaged the minds and influenced the careers of many other major Victorian geologists. By integrating the social and technical aspects of the conflict, the author opens up a range of new approaches to the history of natural science in the Victorian era. The result is a vivid story of the human effects of scientific partisanship and an important contribution to the study of the actual practice of science. Using previously unpublished letters, field notebooks, and diaries, the book shows how interests in the wider uses of science encouraged rival geological classifications and shaped the interpretation of evidence in the field. Active support for imperial expansion, for instance, often accompanied commitment to a wide-ranging program of international correlation of geological formations. Dr. Secord also emphasizes the importance of professionalization for scientific practice and the significance of the quest for intellectual property and priority in the creation of new scientific knowledge. -- from dust jacket.

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"Secord gives a dazzlingly detailed account of this scientific trench warfare and its social consequences. One ends up with a marvellous feeling for the major taxonomic enterprises in Darwin's Read more...

 
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