This book details the life and times of a brilliant Danish anatomist, turned geologist, turned priest, bishop, then saint. His contemporaries were the likes of Sir Isaac Newton, Robert Hooke, the philosophers Leibniz, Spinoza and Voltaire. But this book is more than a biography of Nicholaus Steno: it is a magnificent tapestry depicting the interplay of faith (or atheism) with the scientific data known at the time and the personalities of those with competing theories to explain a simple phenomenon. Why are seashells found on the tops of mountains?
It is difficult to imagine today why and how this simple fact generated a debate spanning some 150 years and how Steno's simple but elegant explanation was all but lost for many of them. Alan Cutler has done an admirable job bringing to life the debates, questions, and controversies that faced the scientists of the seventeenth century.
This incredibly readable book is indeed the story of the birth of a science. We now know it as geology. If you are at all interested in this topic you will love this book!