2006 Philadelphia Annual Meeting (22–25 October 2006)
Paper No. 35-2
Presentation Time: 1:50 PM-2:10 PM


YAMADA, Toshihiro, 2-22-2-305, Utase, Mihama-ku, Chiba 261-0013 Japan, tosmak-yamada@muf.biglobe.ne.jp

Robert Hooke (1635 – 1703) and Nicholas Steno (1638 – 1686) enjoy fame as seventeenth century founders of ‘geology'. At the same time, disputes have arisen about the priority of their contributions to the history of the science. Which of the two first established the organic origin of fossils and the principles for constructing Earth history? Did they independently discover these concepts, influence one another, or even plagiarize from each other? In order to clarify the relations between Hooke and Steno, I introduce two figures whose roles in the historiography of geology have been overlooked: Ole Borch and Robert Boyle. The Danish scholar Borch was a mentor of Steno's in Copenhagen. When he traveled through Europe, he met Steno in the Netherlands, and then went over to England where he visited English natural philosophers including Boyle. Borch again met Steno in Paris when he returned to the continent in 1664. This chronology suggests that Borch learned about Boyle's ideas and communicated them to Steno before Steno met English naturalists such as Martin Lister in Montpellier in 1665.

On the other hand, Hooke had deciphered the organic origin of fossils as early as 1663 and published the idea in his Micrographia (1665). Of course, Steno had already revealed his interest in meteorological and terrestrial phenomena in his student years in Copenhagen (Chaos manuscript, 1659), and consequently, it is possible he developed his concept about ‘solids within solids' independently. However, if we suppose Boyle and Hooke shared similar opinions on the nature of fossil objects, another possibility is that stimulation from England motivated Steno to study Earth theory.

Boyle's works including surviving manuscripts such as Origine of Minerals published in the 2000 edition of the Works of Boyle afford an opportunity to reassess these possible interchanges of ideas and shed light upon the complex relationship between Hooke and Steno.

2006 Philadelphia Annual Meeting (22–25 October 2006)
General Information for this Meeting
Session No. 35
From the Scientific Revolution to the Enlightenment: Emergence of Modern Geology and Evolutionary Thought from the 16th–18th Century II
Pennsylvania Convention Center: 204 B
1:30 PM-5:30 PM, Sunday, 22 October 2006

Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, Vol. 38, No. 7, p. 99

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