Introduction: writing about twentieth century geology
In a classic paper by the late Yale historian of science, Derek De Solla Price (1965), based mainly on the study of citations in a single scientific research field, it was shown how citations in a developing research area have a strong 'immediacy effect'.1 Citation was found to be at a maximum for papers about two-and-a-half years old, and the 'major work of a paper … [is] finished after 10 years', as judged by citations. There were, however, some 'classic' papers that continue to be cited over long periods of time, and review papers specifically discussing the earlier literature. There appears to be a need for such review papers after the publication of about thirty to forty research papers in a field. And the knowledge is synthesized in book form from time to time.
Figures & Tables
This volume is a collection of papers on the history of twentieth century geology, of which eight were presented at a Symposium organized by the International Commission on the History of Geological Sciences (INHIGEO) for the International Geological Congress at Rio de Janeiro in 2000.
The book offers a conspectus of selected developments of twentieth century geology. It has grown from largely a field discipline, chiefly concerned with rocks at the Earth's surface, to one that extends to the planet's interior, and to space beyond. New ideas, instruments, and techniques have extended the scope of earth science to the macro and the micro. Theories abound. One paper raises some of the social and political problems faced by modern geology.
The volume is intended as a prolegomenon to some future synthetic understanding of twentieth century earth sciences. It should appeal to a wide range of geoscientists and historians of science.