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<   No. 2835   2010-10-31   >

Comic #2835

1 Isaac Newton: Monsieur Lavoisier is the pivotal figure in the study of the interactions of matter - what will come to be called chemistry.
2 Isaac Newton: And Mr Maxwell here sets out laws governing electricity and magnetism.
3 Isaac Newton: Next we gather someone crucial to our understanding of the age and formative processes of the Earth itself.
4 Edmond Halley: Truly a prince among topics! Whoever studies this shall surely become a household name!
4 Isaac Newton: It's called geology.

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Name an important geologist. Just one. Any one.

And you folks who have studied geology put your hands down.

Okay, given the readership of this comic, I'm sure there are still some of you with your hands up, but I'm betting most of you are staring blankly now and trying to think of a name.

Physicists, too easy: Newton, Maxwell, Tesla, Bohr, Rutherford, Einstein, Feynman, Hawking...

Chemists, simple: Lavoisier, Priestley, Arrhenius, Mendeleev, Avogadro, Curie...

Biologists, not difficult: Leeuwenhoek, Lamarck, Darwin, Wallace, Linnaeus, Mendel...

Geologists...

Some of you by now are probably going, "Oooh! That guy! The one who proposed continental drift! Him!" Well, okay, if you can remember his name I'll give it to you.

My point is really that geology has always been the least glamorous of the big four major divisions of science. I'm not sure why that is, either. As a kid I loved reading about faulting of rock layers and earthquakes and - most of all - volcanoes. I had a rudimentary rock collection. The colours and shapes of minerals were endlessly fascinating. Even though I went on to study astronomy and physics, I've always considered geology to be right up there. (In fact, I went into astronomy because I was under the impression that I could study about the rocks and formations and volcanoes and so on of other planets! Whoa! How cool is that?!! I was mildly disappointed when I learnt I had to study stars.)

Sure, physics and chemistry and biology are all huge fun, and the people who make important discoveries in those fields are rightly applauded. But geology is at least as much fun as any of those, and its discoveries are certainly as important. So why aren't our geologists better known and appreciated?

At least Newton and Halley have the right idea.

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Last Modified: Sunday, 31 October 2010; 03:11:01 PST.
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