Thursday, January 25, 2007

Geology, anyone?

The first theory of plate tectonics came out of Germany in the 1920s. Scientists worldwide ridiculed the hypothesis and it’s leading advocate disappeared on a field research trip to Greenland in the 30s.

Dr. Gerald Weber graduated with a master’s degree in geology in the early 1960s. After 6 1/2 years working in the field, he returned to school to earn his PhD. In less than 7 years, everything had changed. A complete paradigm shift. He assigned himself a crash course in the latest developments in ocean floor research. Plate tectonics, continental drift, turns out it's all real.

His white moustache folds in a little as he grins. Science, he isn't shy to tell us, isn’t absolute. It’s just the best we know at the time. He figures it always takes about 30-years for science to catch up with itself; that there are these broad sets of questions and observations that eventually fall into a thin line of “facts”. He gestures. I envision a horizontal funnel.

It started with a handshake and quickly became a lesson. “Hi, I’m Nora,” led to 45 minutes on rock formation, global warming, and the fluidity of science as “truth.”

Another reason to think about grad school at Santa Cruz.

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