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The Man Who Found Time: James Hutton and the Discovery of Earth's Antiquity
Synopses & Reviews
There are three men whose contributions helped free science from the straitjacket of theology. Two of the three — Nicolaus Copernicus and Charles Darwin — are widely known and heralded for their breakthroughs. The third, James Hutton, never received the same recognition, yet he profoundly changed our understanding of the earth and its dynamic forces. Hutton proved that the earth was likely millions of years old rather than the biblically determined six thousand, and that it was continuously being shaped and re-shaped by myriad everyday forces rather than one cataclysmic event.
In this expertly crafted narrative, Jack Repcheck tells the remarkable story of this Scottish gentleman farmer and how his simple observations on his small tract of land led him to a theory that was in direct confrontation with the Bible and that also provided the scientific proof that would spark Darwin's theory of evolution. It is also the story of Scotland and the Scottish Enlightenment, which brought together some of the greatest thinkers of the age, from David Hume and Adam Smith to James Watt and Erasmus Darwin. Finally, it is a story about the power of the written word. Repcheck argues that Hutton's work was lost to history because he could not describe his findings in graceful and readable prose. (Unlike Darwin's Origin of the Species, Hutton's one and only book was impenetrable.) A marvelous narrative about a little-known man and the science he founded, The Man Who Found Time is also a parable about the power of books to shape the history of ideas.
"[An] engaging account of scientific discovery....Repcheck's comfortable style and enthusiasm for his subject permeate his book. He does a fine job of laying out Hutton's theory in the context of the Scottish Enlightenment as well as its consequences for later thinkers (most notably Darwin)." Publishers Weekly
"Engaging and suspenseful, Repcheck's excellent biography is highly recommended...the most recent and most detailed account of Hutton's life and science." Library Journal, starred review
"An interesting story, gracefully written and concisely told, that will appeal to readers intrigued by the history of scientific thought." Baltimore Sun
The story of the man who discovered the true age of the earth.
The story of the gentleman farmer from Edinburgh who discovered that the earth was millions of years old, not six thousand, and paved the way for Darwin's theory of evolution
The subject of this expertly crafted narrative is James Hutton, the gentleman farmer from Edinburgh who discovered that the earth is millions of years old, not six thousand, and paved the way for Darwin's theory of evolution. 8-page insert.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 217-228) and index.
About the Author
Jack Repcheck is an acquiring editor at W. W. Norton with a long career in publishing great works of science. He holds an M.A. degree in Irish Social History from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and lives with his wife and five children in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.
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