Wednesday, May 1, 2013

James Hutton - The Great Observer - This Doc Rocks

MAY 2013
James Hutton was born in Edinburgh Scotland, in 1726 and died in 1797.  He was interested in Mathematics and Chemistry from a young age.  At age 17 he apprenticed with a lawyer (I guess he wanted to try something else) but was more interested in doing chemical experiments thus became a physician’s assistant.  Eventually he earned a Doctor of Medicine degree at Leyden in 1749.  After getting his degree, Hutton moved to Berwickshire farms, inherited from his father in 1713, where he performed more chemical experiments and introduced new farming practices.  It is here that he became interested in studying the earth.

In 1768 Hutton moved back to Edinburgh and began making some of the most profound hypotheses of Earth’s structure using his extraordinary observational powers.  He described the formation of sedimentary rock and deduced how granite penetrations in metamorphic schist were younger and intruded into it in a molten state.  He also came up with the Theory of Uniformitarianism - geological forces at work in the present day are the same as those that operated in the past.  Proposed internal heat and pressure within Earth formed igneous rocks, causes stratified layers to be tilted, and made mountains rise.  Hutton made numerous other contributions in in the fields of geology, meteorology, and the development of evolution among others.  Of course not everybody was not on board with his thinking especially since he described an Earth that far older than the 6,000 year old Earth as described by Bishop Ussher.

Profile: Hutton