Grove Karl Gilbert

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As Stephen Pyne reveals in his biography, few other scientists can match Grove Karl Gilbert’s range of talents. A premier explorer of the American West who made major contributions to the cascade of new discoveries about the earth, Gilbert described two novel forms of mountain building, invented the concept of the graded stream, inaugurated modern theories of lunar origin, helped found the science of geomorphology, and added to the canon of conservation literature.
    Gilbert knew most of geology's grand figures—including John Wesley Powell, Clarence Dutton,  and Clarence King—and Pyne's chronicle of the imperturbable, quietly unconventional Gilbert is couterpointed with sketches of these prominent scientists. The man who wrote that "happiness is sitting under a tent with walls uplifted, just after a brief shower,", created answers to the larger questions of the earth in ways that have become classics of his science.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781587296185
  • Publisher: University of Iowa Press
  • Publication date: 8/28/2007
  • Series: American Land & Life Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 322
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Stephen Pyne is Regents Professor and historian in the School of Life Sciences, Arizona State University, and the author of many books and articles on the history of exploration and environmental history. In 1995 he was awarded the Robert Kirsch Award from the Los Angeles Times for his body-of-work contribution to American letters.

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Table of Contents

Author's Note to the Paperback Edition     vii
Preface and Acknowledgments     xi
In a Nutshell     3
The Education of a Classicist     5
A Clerk in the Cosmos     11
Of Mastodons and Mathematics: The Cohoes Potholes     17
Cracking the Nutshell     20
"Astride the occidental mule"     22
A Volunteer Assistant     22
"Labels written by the Creator": John Strong Newberry     28
"Hydrographical peculiarities"     34
West with Wheeler     37
"A systematic approach": The Geology of a Reconnaissance     51
The Lieutenant and the Major     57
The Major Years     64
"The western fever"     64
By Virtue of Its Ensemble: Powell, Dutton, Gilbert     72
"Certain allied problems in mechanics": The Henry Mountains     83
Languages for a New Geology: Mechanics, Mathematics, Literature     95
The Society of a Geologist     103
A Great Engine of Research     108
The Division of the Great Basin     108
The Revolving Chair: Chief Geologist of the U.S. Geological Survey     113
The Scientist as Aristocrat: George Ferdinand Becker     126
LakeBonneville     134
Time's Ratio: The Meaning of Geologic History     145
"A little daft on the subject of the moon"     152
The Great Basin Mess     160
Grade     167
A "buried star"     167
The Mean Plain     179
The Inculcation of Scientific Method     186
The Text for a University Science: Thomas Chrowder Chamberlin     193
An Elder Statesman     201
The Inculcation of Grove Karl Gilbert     203
Geophysics in the Giant Forest     203
Gilbert the Glaciologist     219
Gilbert the Geophysicist     226
Gilbert the Geomorphologist     236
The Cycle of Erosion: William Morris Davis     254
A New Life     262
Notes     269
Sources     291
Biographical Memoirs     295
Index     296
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