Today I wrap up my Founding Five and announce that the blog will be on a short break while I move across the country and start a new job. But don’t worry, I’ll be starting a new series after everything settles down!
The letters between Ibn Sina and his rival al-Briuni show the Islamic world of the 9th and 10th Centuries was rich in scientific achievement. Both men were also avid geologists and made significant contributions to our understanding of the Earth. Their story proves the Islamic world has been a source of geologic knowledge for centuries.
Who invented geology? That question is harder to answer than you think. In this post, I write about James Hutton, Comte de Buffon, Nicolas Steno, and Rene Descartes, and suggest that even though Ibn Sina beat them to the punch, nobody really invented geology. Fundamental principles of geology have just been derived by different people in different times and places because of geology’s universal nature.
Franz Nopcsa was a baron, spy, and paleontologist who was nearly crowned King of Albania. He made many discoveries that were ahead of his time and founded the science of paleobiology. Yet you have likely never heard of him.
Annie Alexander went on several paleontological expeditions in the early 1900’s. These trips highlight the difficulties that women face in the field. I use her story as a backdrop to discuss discrimination in the field today and how in many ways it has not improved since Alexander’s 1905 “Saurian Expedition.”
Annie Alexander loved paleontology and the outdoors. She used her financial acumen to support the paleo program at UC-Berkeley. She is important as one of the earliest American LGBTQIA paleontologists. She loved adventure and exploring the world with her close companion Louise Kellogg.
Shen Kuo wrote about UFOs and the metaphysical in the same text in which he detailed amazing scientific work. Shen’s work “Dream Pool Essays” is more akin to a series of Reddit posts than a scientific journal, but does that make him less of a scientist? Or is our view of science a culturally-biased concept?
Shen Kuo was a talented 11th Century Chinese paleontologist. He wrote at length about sedimentation, geomorphology, marine fossils in mountain peaks and how the distribution of fossil bamboo meant climate had changed through time. He was a foundational paleontologist, and we should know more about him.
Anningiae: how gender bias and myth making obscure who the real Mary Anning was. The Anning we celebrate today is based on sexist and classist biases meant to belittle her true scientific accomplishments. Anning was not a simple country woman selling sea shells by the sea shore.
Mary Anning owed her aptitude as a paleontologist to her friends and colleagues. The sexist beliefs of some of these allies also prevented her from reaching her full potential. This week, I look into how Mary’s relationships shaped her and inform us on her real personality.