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Inventing the Earth. Ideas on Landscape Development Since 1740

  • ID: 2176916
  • Book
  • December 2005
  • Region: Global
  • 176 Pages
  • John Wiley and Sons Ltd
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This book chronicles how successive generations of natural philosophers, geologists and geomorphologists have come to invent different views of the Earth over the past 250 years.

Today we take for granted certain given truths about the Earth: our planet is unimaginably old; the surface of the planet is in perpetual motion through the action of plate tectonics; and the structures on the surface of the Earth are being continuously modified by agencies such as wind, rain, rivers and glaciers. However, even 100 years ago, some of this received wisdom was not available.

Using as its central viewpoint changing ideas about the significance of the action of rain and rivers on the Earth s surface, Inventing the Earth shows how our contemporary truths have come to be accepted and, with no guarantee that our current view of the Earth is correct, exposes the frailty of even the most impeccably scientific visions of the Earth.

Inventing the Earth is essential reading for undergraduates and postgraduates in physical geography, earth science and environmental studies.

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List of Illustrations.




1 Inventing Scientific Explanations.

2 Inventing the Age (and Origin) of the Earth.

3 Inventing ′Modern Earth Science′: Charles Lyell and ′The Principles of Geology′.

4 Inventing the Ice Age: the Rôle of Louis Agassiz.

5 Inventing a Balanced View of ′Forces Now in Operation′: Charles Darwin′s Travels in Space and Time.

6 Inventing a Fluvial Landscape: Powell, Gilbert and the Western Explorations.

7 The Invention of the Geographical Cycle and the Synthetic Genius of W. M. Davis.

8 Reinventing a Newtonian Universe: the Reductionist Revolution, 1945–1977.

9 Reinventing the Earth, 1977–: Homo sapiens, History and Micro–organisms.


Appendix I: Cast of Principal Characters.

Appendix II: Selective Glossary of Technical Terms.



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Barbara Kennedy
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