Sunday, March 8, 2020

James Hutton Essay Example

James Hutton Essay Example James Hutton Paper James Hutton Paper James Hutton A report done by Sarah Lynn Brixey James Hutton was a Scottish geologist, naturalist, and experimental farmer. He is considered the father of modern geology. His theories of geology and geologic time, are also called deep time, and came to be included in theories which were called plutonism and uniformitarianism. Plutonism is the disproven theory that all rocks formed by solidification of a molten mass. Uniformitarianism means of or pertaining to the thesis that processes that operated in the remote geological past are not different from those observed now. Another definition of uniformitarianism is supporting, conforming to, or derived from a theory or doctrine about uniformity, esp. on the subject of geology. In this report on James Hutton, you will learn who he was, his theory of rock formations, and his publication career. James Hutton was born in Edinburgh on June 3, 1726 as one of five children of a merchant who was also Edinburgh City Treasurer, but died when James was very young. He attended school at the Edinburgh High School, where he was particularly interested in mathematics and chemistry. At the age of 14, he attended the University of Edinburgh as a â€Å"student of humanity†. He was an intern to a lawyer at the age of 17, but took more of an interest in chemical experiments than legal work. At the age of 18, he became a doctor’s assistant and attended lectures of medicine at the University of Edinburgh. Three years later, he studied medicine in Paris, and in 1749, he received the degree of Doctor of Medicine at Leyden with a thesis on blood circulation. Around 1747, he had a son by a woman named Miss Edington, and other than giving the boy financial assistance, he had little to do with him. The boy went on to become a post office clerk in London. After receiving his degree, Hutton returned to London, and in the summer of 1750, at the age of 24, went back to Edinburgh and resumed experiments with close friend, James Davie. Their work on production of sal ammoniac from soot led to their partnership in profitable chemical works, manufacturing the crystalline salts which were used for dyeing, metalwork, and as smelling salts that were previously available only from natural sources and that had to be imported from Egypt. Hutton owned and rented out properties in Edinburgh, which employed a factor to manage this business. James Hutton inherited his father’s Berwickshire farms of Slighthouses, which are lowland farms that had been in the family since 1713, and a hill farm of Nether Monynut. In the early 1750s, he moved to Slighthouses, with his goal being to making improvements, which introduced farming practices from other parts of Britain and experimenting with plant and animal cultivation. He recorded his ideas and innovations in an unpublished thesis on The Elements of Agriculture. This developed his interest in meteorology and geology, and by 1753, he had become very fond of studying the surface of the earth, and was looking with anxious curiosity into every pit or ditch or bed of a river he came across. Working in a clearing and draining his farm provided many opportunities, and he noticed that a vast proportion of the present rocks are composed of materials afforded by the destruction of bodies, animal, vegetable and mineral, of more ancient formation†. His theoretical ideas began to come together in 1760, and while his farming activities continued, in 1764, he went on a geological tour of the north of Scotland with George Maxwell-Clerk. In 1768, Hutton returned to Edinburgh, leaving his farms to tenants but continuing to take an interest in farm improvements and research, which included experiments carried out at Slighthouses. He developed a red dye made from the roots of the madder plant. He had a house built in 1770 at St. John’s Hill, Edinburgh, overlooking Salisbury Crags. He was one of the most influential participants in the Scottish Enlightenment, and fell in with numerous first-class minds in the sciences including John Playfair, philosopher David Hume, and economist Adam Smith. He was a particularly close friend of Joseph Black, and the two of them together with Adam Smith founded the Oyster Club for weekly meetings, that included Hutton and Black to find a venue, which turned out to have rather disreputable associations. Between 1767 and 1774, Hutton had considerable close involvement with the construction of the Forth and Clyde Canal, making full use of his geological knowledge, both as a shareholder and as a member of the committee of management, and attended meetings including extended site inspections of all the works. In 1777, he published a pamphlet on Considerations on the Nature, Quality and distinctions of Coal and Culm, which successfully helped to obtain relief from removal duty on carrying small coal. Hutton hit on a variety of ideas to explain the rock formations he saw around him, but according to Playfair, he â€Å"was in no haste to publish his theory; for he was one of those who are much more delighted with the contemplation of truth, than with the praise of having discovered it. † After some 25 years of work, his Theory of the Earth; or and Investigation of the Laws observable in the Composition, Dissolution, and Restoration of Land upon the Globe was read to meetings of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in two parts, first by his friend Joseph Black on March 7, 1785, and the second by himself on April 4, 1785. He subsequently read an abstract of his dissertation Concerning the System of the Earth, its Duration and Stability to the Society meeting on July 4, 1785, which he had printed and circulated privately. In it, his theory states that the solid part of the present land appears in general, to have been composed of the productions of the sea, and of other materials similar to those now found upon the shores. Hence we find reason to conclude:  ·That the land on which we rest is not simple and original, but that it is a composition, and has been formed by the operation of second causes.  ·That before the present land was made, there had subsisted a world composed of sea and land, in which were tides and currents, with such operations at the bottom of the sea as now take place.  ·That while the present land is forming at the bottom of the ocean, the former land maintained plants and animals; at least the sea was then inhabited by animals, in a similar manner as it is presently. Hence we are led to conclude, that the greater part of our land, if not the whole had been produced by operations natural to this globe; but that in order to make this land a permanent body, resisting the operations of the waters, two things must be required.  ·The consolidation of masses formed by collections of loose or incoherent materials.  ·The elevation of those consolidated masses from the bottom of the sea, the place where they were collected, to the stations in which they now remain above the level of the ocean. At Glen Tilt in the Cairngorm Mountains in the Scottish Highlands, Hutton found granite penetrating metamorphic schists, in a way, which indicated that the granite had been molten at the time. This showed him that granite formed from cooling of molten rock, not precipitation out of water, as others at the time had believed, and that the granite must be younger than the schists. He went on to find a similar penetration of volcanic rock through sedimentary rock near the center of Edinburgh, at Salisbury Crags, adjoining Arthur’s Seat, which is now known as Hutton’s Section. He found other examples on the Isle of Arran, also known as Hutton’s Unconformity and in Galloway. In 1787, Hutton noted what is now known as the Hutton Unconformity at Inchbonny, Jedburgh, in layers of sedimentary rock. Hutton reasoned that there must have been several cycles, each involving deposition on the seabed, uplift with tilting and erosion, then undersea again for further layers to be deposited, and there have been many cycles before over an extremely long history. Although Hutton privately circulated printed version of the abstract of his Theory, which he read at a meeting of the Royal Society of Edinburgh on July 4, 1785, the theory as read at the March 7, 1785 and April 4, 1785 meetings did not appear in print until 1788. It was titled Theory of the Earth; or and Investigation of the Laws observable in the Composition, Dissolution, and Restoration of Land upon the Globe and appeared in Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. Following criticism, especially Richard Kirwan’s, who thought he was an atheist and not logical, among other things, Hutton published a two volume version of his theory in 1795, consisting of the 1788 version of his theory that included slight additions along with a lot of material drawn from shorter papers Hutton already had to hand on various subjects such as the origin of granite. It included a review of alternative theories, such as those of Thomas Burnet and Georges-Louis Leclerc, and Comte de Buffon. This whole was entitled An Investigation of the Principles of Knowledge and of the Progress of Reason, from Sense to Science and Philosophy when the third volume was completed in 1794. Its 2,138 pages prompted Playfair to remark that â€Å"The great size of the book, and the obscurity which may justly be objected to many parts of it, have probably prevented it from being received as it deserves†. His new theories placed him into opposition with the then-popular Neptunist theories of Abraham Gottlob Werner that all rocks had precipitated out of single enormous flood. Hutton proposed that the interior of the Earth was hot, and that this heat was the engine, which drove the creation of new rock; land was eroded by air and water and deposited into stone, and uplifted it into new lands. This theory was dubbed â€Å"Plutonist† in contrast to the flood-oriented theory. As well as combating the Neptunists, he also opened up the concept of deep time for scientific purposes, in opposition to Catastrophism. Rather than accepting that the Earth was no more than a few thousand years old, he maintained that the Earth must be much older, with a istory extending indefinitely into the distant past. His main line of argument was that the tremendous displacements and changes he was seeing did not happen in a short period of time by means of catastrophe, but that processes still happening on earth in the present day had caused them. As these processes were very gradual, the Earth needed to be ancient, in order to allow time for the changes. Before long, scie ntific inquiries provoked by his claims had pushed back the age of the earth into the millions of years- still too short when compared with what is known as in the 21st century, but a distinct improvement. The prose of Principles of Knowledge was so obscure, in fact, that it also impeded the acceptance of Hutton’s geological theories. Restatements of his geological ideas by John Playfair in 1802 and then Charles Lyell in the 1830s removed this hindrance. If anything, Hutton’s ideas were eventually accepted too well. At least some of the initial resistance to modern scientific ideas like plate tectonics and asteroid strikes causing mass extinctions can be attributed to too-strict adherence to uniformitarianism. It was not merely the Earth to which Hutton directed his attention. He had long studied the changes of the atmosphere. The same volume in which his Theory of Earth appeared contained also a Theory of Rain. He contended that the amount of moisture, which the air can retain in solution, increases with temperature, and, therefore, that on the mixture of two masses of air of different temperatures a portion of the moisture must be condensed and appear in visible form. He investigated the available data regarding rainfall and climate in different regions of the globe, and came to the conclusion that the rainfall is regulated by the humidity of the air on the one hand, and mixing of different air currents in the higher atmosphere on the other. In conclusion, James Hutton was a great man who did many things. On a more personal note, reading and learning about him peaked my curiosity in the things that we are learning in Earth Science class, and also to an extent in Geography. Before reading this, I didn’t really care about geology or rocks, for that matter. But after reading this, it sort of made me want to learn more about geology. Bibliography Page 1. britannica. com/EBchecked/topic/277702/James-Hutton 2. plutonism. Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. 2008. Merriam-Webster Online. 1 September 2008 merriam-webster. com/dictionary/plutonism

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