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Historical Scientists  

We stand on the shoulders of giants who defined the breadth and scope of much of geology:
--Linus Pauling was one of ours! Nature of the chemical bond, crystal chemistry, and of course, Pauling's Rules...
--V.M. Goldschmidt; distribution of elements in the crust;
--N. L. Bowen; magmatic processes, contact metamorphism of carbonate rocks, and much more....


Here's a couple from an earlier MSA listserv communication from Sumit Chakraborty:
J. Georg Bednorz, Nobel Prize in Physics (1987 ?) for finding superconductivity in ceramic materials, trained as a mineralogist.
I. When Claude Lewis Bethollet went along with Napoleon on his Egypt mission of 1789 (this is the same trip that brought the world the Rosetta Stone) and saw the famous Natron deposits in Wadi Natron along the Nile, he explained those as products of reaction between limestone and salty water. Used the observation to recognize and identify the concept of reversibility of chemical reactions (yes, this was the birth of it - not in a chemistry lab somewhere), and analyzed the process, for the first time as far as I can tell, in terms of what we would call log K today. Most people have heard of the Rosetta stone - how many struggling geology students, stuck in the required thermodynamics part of their curriculum (hoping that it exists), recognize that they are facing one of the most far reaching contributions ever to come out of observations in the field? Stunned, that log K is not a contraption devised by devious, theoretically minded chemists to make the lives of geologists miserable?

II. Brownian Motion - the widely reported description of the discovery talks about motion of pollens. But a key issue was whether the motion was due to "life forces". The proof that it was physical came from the demonstration of the same motion in fluids trapped in some quartz crystals (? Bergkristall from the Alps....I am not entirely sure)....the argument being, that life would not survive in these millions of year old quartz crystals. The rest, with Einstein and stock markets, is the stomping ground of popular science at large....I just wanted to point out that this would be considered fluid inclusion research today.


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The Darwin family should definitely be on the list, including Charles and Erasmus Darwin. Erasmus Darwin was an amazingly broad scientific thinker, who did experiments on lots of things including minerals found in the Derby area of the UK. One of the founding members of the Lunar Society of Birmingham in late 1700's (included Josiah Wedgewood, James Kier, James Watt, Mathew Boulton, Joseph Priestley and others). He also contributed lots of great thoughts to ideas about organic evolution and supported/agreed with Hutton's ideas about an ancient age for the earth. His father, Robert Darwin, found one of the first dinosaur fossils in GB, which he donated to the Royal Society and for which he was subsequently made a member (and met Isaac Newtow).

Obviously Charles D. also contributed lots of ideas to geology from his Beagle voyage (his geo observations were some of the most interesting to people when he first got back to GB, including observations on the aftermath of a large Chilean earthquake he witnessed).


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