Reef Madness: Charles Darwin, Alexander Agassiz, and the Meaning of Coral

Reef Madness Charles Darwin Alexander Agassiz and the Meaning of Coral Reef Madness opens up the world of nineteenth century science and philosophy at a moment when the nature of scientific thought was changing when what we call science the word did not even exist was s

  • Title: Reef Madness: Charles Darwin, Alexander Agassiz, and the Meaning of Coral
  • Author: David Dobbs
  • ISBN: 9780375421617
  • Page: 204
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Reef Madness: Charles Darwin, Alexander Agassiz, and the Meaning of Coral

    Reef Madness opens up the world of nineteenth century science and philosophy at a moment when the nature of scientific thought was changing, when what we call science the word did not even exist was spoken of as natural philosophy and was a part of theology, the study of God s natural works This is how what is now called science, until then based on the presence aReef Madness opens up the world of nineteenth century science and philosophy at a moment when the nature of scientific thought was changing, when what we call science the word did not even exist was spoken of as natural philosophy and was a part of theology, the study of God s natural works This is how what is now called science, until then based on the presence and hence the authority of God, moved toward reliance on observable phenomena as evidence of truth At the book s center, two of that century s most bitter debates one about the theory of natural selection, the other about the origin of coral Caught in the grip of these controversies were two men considered to be the gods of the nineteenth century scientific world Charles Darwin, the most controversial and ultimately the most influential and the Swiss born zoologist Louis Agassiz, almost forgotten today but at the time even lionized than Darwin Agassiz was a paleontologist, the first to classify the fossil fish of the planet, and the first to conceive the idea of the ice age that altered our view of the Earth He taught at Harvard, founded the Museum of Comparative Zoology, was one of the founders of the Smithsonian and of the National Academy of Sciences, and was considered the greatest lecturer of his time eloquent, charming, spellbinding Among his admirers Emerson, Theodore Roosevelt, William James, and Thoreau Agassiz believed that nature was so vast, complicated, and elegantly ordered that it could only be the work of God We see how this central principle of Agassiz s was threatened by Darwin s most central theory that species change through natural causes, that we exist not because we re meant to but because we happen to Agassiz, forced either to disprove Darwin s principle or give up his own, went to war full tilt against the theory of natural selection It was a war that, beyond its own drama, had a second important effect on the new world of science David Dobbs tells how Agassiz s son, Alexander, one of the most respected naturalists of his time, who witnessed his father s rise and tragic defeat yet supported the theory of natural selection over his father s objections, himself became locked in combat with Darwin The subject of contention was the coral reef problem As a young man of twenty six, Darwin, with only a small amount of data, put forth a theory about the formation of these huge beautiful forms composed of the skeletons of tiny animals that survive in shallow water It explained how the reefs could rise on foundations that emerged from the Pacific s greatest depths This became the subject of Darwin s first long paper, and it propelled him to the highest circles of British science The obsessed younger Agassiz spent the next thirty years in a vain effort to disprove Darwin s coral theory, traveling 300,000 miles of ocean and looking at every coral mass In so doing, he laid the groundwork for oceanography, through which, in 1950, the question of the origin of coral was finally resolved In Reef Madness, Dobbs looks at the nature of scientific theory He shows how Darwin was crucially influenced by his encounters with the Agassiz father and son, and how the coral problem prefigured the fierce battle about evolution Original, illuminating, and fascinating, Reef Madness uses these large human struggles, which devastated two lives and shaped the thinking of another, to make real the Victorian world of science and to show how it affected the century that followed and continues to this day to affect our own.

    Reef Madness Charles Darwin the Pleasure of Gambling This is the ninth installment of an abridged version of my book Reef Madness Alexander Agassiz, Charles Darwin, and the Meaning of Coral.Here we see, with some surprise, that the world s most Reef Madness Charles Darwin, Alexander Agassiz, and the Reef Madness opens up the world of nineteenth century science and philosophy at a moment when the nature of scientific thought was changing, when what we call science the word did not even exist was spoken of as natural philosophy and was a part of theology, the study of God s Reef Madness Charles Darwin, Alexander Agassiz, and the In Reef Madness, Dobbs looks at the nature of scientific theory He shows how Darwin was crucially influenced by his encounters with the Agassiz father and son, and how the coral problem prefigured the fierce battle about evolution. Reef Madness A Dissipated, Low Minded Charles Darwin Reef Madness A Dissipated, Low Minded Charles Darwin This is the eighth installment of an abridged version of my book Reef Madness Alexander Agassiz, Charles Darwin, and Nonfiction Book Review REEF MADNESS Charles Darwin Few questions in th century science aroused controversy than the origin of coral reefs Charles Darwin posited that the corals grew upon sinking land forms, a theory widely accepted despite Customer reviews Reef Madness Charles Darwin Find helpful customer reviews and review ratings for Reef Madness Charles Darwin, Alexander Agassiz, and the Meaning of Coral at Read honest and unbiased product reviews from our users. Reef Madness Alexander Agassiz, Charles Darwin, And The Reef Madness Charles Darwin, Alexander Agassiz, and the eBay Louis Agassiz Alexander Agassiz Charles Darwin Coral Reefs Nov Charles Darwin posited that the corals grew upon sinking land forms, a theory Charles Darwin, Alexander Agassiz, and the Meaning of Coral Reef Madness Charles Darwin, Alexander Reef Madness A Dissipated, Low Minded Charles Darwin Charles Darwin in the late s This is the eighth installment of an abridged version of my book Reef Madness Alexander Agassiz, Charles Darwin, and the Meaning of Reef Madness The One Darwin Really DID Get Wrong This is the second of several excerpts from my book Reef Madness Charles Darwin, Alexander Agassiz, and the Meaning of Coral This is from Chapter Two Series explained below go here for context on this repub experiment Like any decent scientist or curious human, Louis Agassiz could not resist Atoll Charles Darwin recognized its indigenous origin and coined, becoming an almost atoll, or barrier reef island, as typified by an island such as Aitutaki in the Cook Islands, Reef Madness Charles Darwin, Alexander Agassiz, and the Meaning of Coral Pantheon.

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    One thought on “Reef Madness: Charles Darwin, Alexander Agassiz, and the Meaning of Coral

    1. Tyas

      It took me so long to finish this book. It’s not that because it’s bad or uninteresting, it’s just that it’s not the kind of hard-to-put-down. Pages by pages, we are to follow heated battles of scientists, probably boring in details for non-science enthusiasts: a seemingly unfair war between the towering figure of Charles Darwin, one of the most pre-eminent Victorian scientist of the time, with the American Alexander Agassiz, son of the notorious Louis Agassiz. (Louis was seen burning Da [...]

    2. Holly Bik

      Although I'm not a huge fan of books focused on the history of science, I felt I learned a lot from this particular tome - it filled in many knowledge gaps surrounding this history of my own scientific field. For example, expeditions such as the Challenger which are well known in marine biology but I guess I never truly understood or appreciated its significance. Dobbs is a wonderful writer and did a fantastic job brining all the historical figure to life - the book was extensively researched an [...]

    3. Becky Courage

      This is a book I had to read for my Geography of the Seas class, where we had to write a book evaluation in the style of The Northern Mariner. Overall, this was an enjoyable read and I would recommend it if you have an interest in Darwin, the Agassiz's or coral reefs. The Review:David Dobbs. Reef Madness: Charles Darwin, Alexander Agassiz and the Meaning of Coral. United States: Pantheon Books, 2005. 265pp introduction, illustrations, notes, bibliography, index. US $25.00, hardcover; ISBN 0-375- [...]

    4. Tuck

      3.5 star. a good history of science, but not too exciting of a writing style, a bit dull, compared to more popsci writers like Prosek or Casey (see below) . Louise Agassiz and his superstar scientist status in the usa (no, really), though his theories were all wrong on geology and evolution, inspired his son Alexander and Charles Darwin to promulgate their own theories of evolution, focusing on coral reefs. Agassiz the son, and Darwin were at wild odds on how reefs were created (Darwin was way m [...]

    5. Pa

      This is an historical account of the interactions among Charles Darwin, Louis Agassiz, and Alexander Agassiz (the son of Louis). Louis A the darling of American Science during the mid 19th century, was a staunch and outspoken creationist. His virulent attacks on Darwin ended with his almost complete loss of credibility as a scientist. His son, Alex, also butted heads with Darwin's theories, but with the theory of how coral reefs were formed rather than evolution (which Alex at least grudgingly a [...]

    6. Delson Roche

      Darwin is well known for his theory of evolution, what I was not aware was of another theory he proposed- That of how corals are formed. For more than 60 years the theory was bitterly fought. More longer than the idea of evolution perhaps. This wonderful book is the story of this pitched battle fought in intellectual circles, in papers and publications. A lovely read for any natural history aficionado. The first few chapters are quite a bit of a drag, but slowly build up to the core of the book. [...]

    7. Rick Jones

      The first half, which was a lot of the back story, kind of slogged a littleAlexander Agassiz spent that much of the book escaping his father Louis Agasssiz' shadow. Once he really became engaged with the question of coral reef formation, the book really took off. If you have already read much about this time period of the questions of faith v science, then a lot of this will be a road already traveled.

    8. Sarah Sattin

      Pretty dense at times, but I powered through. The best part of reading this was that I was surrounded by the book. I work at Harvard and I borrowed this book from the Museum of Comparative Zoology, the museum that Louis Agassiz created. I live down the street from where Alex Agassiz's wife is buried, at the Forest Hills Cemetery. It helped me feel connected, and these events seemed closer in place, if not time.

    9. Zuska

      Fascinating exposition of a part of science history - competition, rivalries, father-son dynamics, 19th century globe trotting, and the mysteries of reef formation. Dobbs is a skillful writer and he really makes the personalities involved come alive. And he puts the reader right in the middle of the excitement when science, religion, and celebrity were a heady mix. It's good stuff.

    10. Science For The People

      Featured on Skeptically Speaking show #158 on April 1, 2012, during an interview with author David Dobbs. skepticallyspeaking/episode

    11. Ben Shouse

      This is for serious biology nerds, but if you're in that bin this is a great mix of personal history, coral reef arcana, and what it was like to do science in the 19th Century.

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