Earth Breathing

Scientific knowledge has been a rather remarkably recent development in human history! We know that organized civilization has existed for around 7,000 years, and written language was developed about 3200 years ago and certainly advanced thinking developed in ancient Greece around 2,500 years ago.

But it is remarkable that really stupid ideas existed in relatively recent time! It was only around 500 years ago that anyone realized that the Earth was not flat. Also that the Earth was not stationary.

Another of these interesting anecdote web-pages presents a page from an extremely popular astronomy book which was published regularly from the 1820s through the 1880s. As a small child, I happened to obtain a copy of that astronomy book. An indication of the universal ignorance of that era was that page where the highly respected author presented a chart where he had calculated how many people lived on the Moon (4,000,000,000 people) and on Mars (15,000,000,000 people)and on Jupiter and on both sides and the edges of the rings of Saturn, numbers that all went far into the billions! He explained that 8,141,963,826,080 people lived on the Rings of Saturn!

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But this note is about a different subject. I seem to have misplaced my documentation of a Scientific Conference of the 1780s where hundreds of the world's smartest men attended. It was associated with the Scottish Enlightenment of the late 18th Century. I cannot remember the name of the specific (famous) scientist who gave his lecture on the source of all winds. He explained that winds occurred because the Earth was breathing!

The documention which exists on that is very amusing! It is hard to believe that the speaker really believed the foolish ideas he described, or even more, that he gave such a lecture to a collection of so many famous and respected scientists!

Maybe someone who reads this can find the name of that Lecturer, and the specifics of the Conference. I believe it was held in either Iceland or in Great Britain, in the middle 1780s. I do NOT believe the Lecture was given by Hutton, who genuinely WAS a geological genius! The scholars of the Scottish Enlightenment were considered the smartest people then on Earth.

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This presentation was first placed on the Internet in April 2012.

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C Johnson, Theoretical Physicist, Physics Degree from Univ of Chicago