The Dark Side of the Earth



Wood's The Dark Side of the Earth is another addition to the growing list of books on the recent revolution in the earth sciences. Wood rightly points out that any new book on the topic should break new ground. In the preface, he writes of himself and his book that he has benefited from previous accounts by saving himself research time, and that his book, unlike others, “attempts to tell one complete story of the study of the Earth, geologists, geophysicists, dreamers and all” (p. vi). Wood is ambitious, for his work covers much of 19th-century geology as well as the development, reception, rejection, and eventual acceptance of mobilist ideas. Before discussing the work of the German meteorologist and geophysicist Alfred L. Wegener, American glacial geomorphologist Frank Taylor, and several of their predecessors who proposed “mobilist” ideas, he manages to string together brief descriptions of the contributions of (among others) German mineralogist Abraham Gottlob Werner, British geologists James Hutten and John Playfair, British engineer William Smith, British geologist Charles Lyell, American geologists James Hall and James Dwight Dana, British volcanologist William Lowthian Green, American geologist Grove Karl Gilbert, French geologist Elie de Beaumont, British geologist and mathematician Osmond Fisher, American geologist Clarence Dutton, British mathematician and physicist Lord Kelvin, Austrian geologist Eduard Suess, French geologist Marcel Bertrand, and American geologist Thomas Chrowder Chamberlin. Moreover, Wood offers an interesting thesis about the revolution in the earth sciences. He claims that the real revolution was not the replacement of fixist views with the mobilist ones of sea floor spreading and plate tectonics, but rather the replacement of geology with the new discipline of the earth sciences in which geophysics and geochemistry play the central role.