Warning: session_start(): open(/var/lib/php/session/sess_tosb4bg3804bumpg8vcq4jhf49, O_RDWR) failed: No space left on device (28) in /var/www/html/includes/config.php on line 34

Warning: session_start(): Failed to read session data: files (path: /var/lib/php/session) in /var/www/html/includes/config.php on line 34
addabook - The Map That Changed the World
addabook home timeline gallery
signup or login
The Map That Changed the World
William Smith and the Birth of Modern Geology
Simon Winchester
read on August 1, 2012

Well, this was a dud. The book is about the beginnings of the science of geology. I guess I'm not sure why that sounded interesting. I just looked at the cover and title and assumed there would be more about.. maps. But it's not. Not really. It's more a biography of William Smith, who created a geological map of England in the early 1800's and turned geology into an actual science.

It's super boring.

There was one discussion I really liked, which was about what people used to think fossils were. That was something I had never thought about. I mean, people have been finding little shellfish and whatever-else fossils in stones for thousands of years, but until like 150 years ago we had no idea that they were actual, prehistoric dead animals. I mean, how would a clam get stuck inside a mountain? It's fund to wonder how I would have rationalized that myself.

Well, now I know how they did. Fossils were called "figure stones". People used to collect them. No one thought for a second that they used to be alive. It would have been preposterous to suggest that a little shrimp-ish thing (which didn't resemble any actual animals alive at the time) would be 1,000 miles inland, and buried 500ft inside solid limestone. So, naturally, folks just assumed God put them there to confuse and delight us, and to just generally remind us that he can do whatever he wants. Hilarious.

Author Bio:

Simon Winchester, OBE (born 28 September 1944), is a British author and journalist who resides in Massachusetts, in the United States. Through his career at The Guardian, Winchester covered numerous significant events, including Bloody Sunday and the Watergate Scandal. As an author, Winchester has written or contributed to more than a dozen nonfiction books, has written one novel, and his articles have appeared in several travel publications, including Condé Nast Traveler, Smithsonian Magazine, and National Geographic.