This is the story of a seventeenth-century scientist-turned-priest who forever changed our understanding of the Earth and created a new field of science. It was a puzzle that stymied history's greatest minds: Why were the fossils of seashells found far inland, sometimes high up into the mountains? Seventeenth century, scholars calculated the age of the earth to be only six thousand years - not enough time for the fossils to form.
The brilliant and enigmatic Nicholas Steno - the man whom Stephen Jay Gould called "the founder of geology" - explored beyond the pages of the Bible, to look directly at the clues left in the layers of the Earth. Steno challenged the religious and scientific thinking of his own time, and set the stage for the modern science that came after him. As the groundbreaking ideas gains acceptance, Steno entered the priesthood and rose to become a bishop, ultimately becoming venerated as a saint.
A thrilling scientific investigation and the portrait of an extraordinary genius, The Seashell on the Mountaintop gives us new insight into our planet, revealing how we learned to read the story told to us by the Earth itself, written in rock and stone.
"Cutler's animated and energetic prose provides a page-turning thriller of scientific discovery, and this splendid biography captures in intimate detail not only its subject but also the tenor of Steno's times." (Publishers Weekly)
"A sophisticated portrait of a forgotten pioneer." (Booklist)
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genesis of geology
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A biography of the end of ignorance