## Abstract

The study of geology has always attracted and profited from the efforts of dedicated amateurs. Even after its emergence at the beginning of the nineteenth century as a fully independent branch of science, the appearance of a growing cadre of professional geologists stimulated rather than inhibited the activity of a still larger band of amateurs. In England especially, geology was the popular science *par excellence*. Clergymen, professional men, scholars, leisured gentlemen, and scientists from other branches of science were all attracted to its problems. They filled the geological societies and made important contributions to the literature of the maturing science. Kelvin was such an amateur.

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### References

- 1.Thompson (1910),
*Kelvin*, I: 9–10.Google Scholar - 2.
*Ibid*., I: 185–188. Even the title of this dissertation is in some doubt. Thompson recorded it as “De Caloris distributione per terrae corpus,” while Kelvin referred to it as “De Motu Caloris per Terrae Corpus.” See Kelvin (1882–1911),*Mathematical Papers*, III: 295.Google Scholar - 3.Kelvin (1852),
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*Thèorie analytique de la chaleur*.) and read by Kelvin in 1840. Moreover, Kelvin’s first published paper, prepared before he entered Cambridge in 1841, was a defense of part of Fourier’s theory, while his subsequent work makes it clear that the problems of heat transfer, including their application to the earth itself, occupied a significant part of his attention over the next several decades.Google Scholar - (See Thompson (1910),
*Kelvin*, I: 14–22.)Google Scholar - 32.In 1849, Forbes was engaged in a five-year series of observations of temperature gradients in different minerals and at different depths in several locations around Edinburgh. Kelvin apparently assisted him for a while and made use of the data gathered for many years. (See: Thompson (1910),
*Kelvin*, I: 210Google Scholar - Shairp, Tait, and Adams (1873),
*Life of Forbes*, pp. 463–464.)Google Scholar - Forbes also provided additional data when Kelvin was preparing “On the Secular Cooling of the Earth” in 1861. (See letter from Forbes to J. Phillips in Phillips’ (1869),
*Vesuvius*, pp. 345–347.)Google Scholar - Between those dates, Kelvin published several papers on the problem of underground heat in which many of the elements of his subsequent calculation of time were developed, although the age of the earth itself was not mentioned. (See: Kelvin (1855),
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*Geological Time*.Google Scholar - According to S. P. Thompson, this address may have been read for Kelvin, since at about this time his wife’s continued ill health carried him to the continent and for many months he read no other papers. (See: Thompson (1910),
*Kelvin*, I: 527.)Google Scholar - 39.Kant (1755),
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*Geological Changes and the Earth’s Rotation*;Google Scholar - Kelvin (1876),
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*Dissipation of Mechanical Energy*, p. 514. (My italics)Google Scholar - 49.Kelvin (1863a),
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*Kelvin*, II: 779.Google Scholar - 50.Kelvin (1895a),
*Age of the Earth*, p. 227. The full importance of the exchange with Perry is discussed in Chapter 5.Google Scholar - 51.Kelvin (1876),
*Review of the Evidence*, pp. 238–43.Google Scholar - 52.Kelvin never published an endorsement of the implications of radioactivity for geological time. On the contrary, as is discussed in Chapter 6, he opposed the idea that radioactive materials could spontaneously emit heat without being supplied by an outside source. Nonetheless, J. J. Thomson reports that in private conversation Kelvin did concede that his theories had been overthrown. (See: Thomson, J. J. (1936),
*Recollections*, p. 420.)Google Scholar - 53.Archibald Geikie attributed to Joseph Larmor the following statement, supposedly uttered at Kelvin’s funeral: “Conceive a perfectly level line drawn from the summit of Newton’s genius across all the intervening generations; probably the only man who reached it in these two centuries has been Kelvin.” Geikie, A. (1924),
*Autobiography*, pp. 350–351.Google Scholar - Such opinions, if not quite so extreme or poetic, were common, ranging from Helmholtz’s opinion of the young Kelvin (Thompson (1910),
*Kelvin*, 1:310, 324–25)Google Scholar - Frank Harris’ observation on the leader of British science (Harris (1963),
*Life and Loves*, p. 389).Google Scholar - 54.Quoted in King, A. G. (1925),
*Kelvin the Man*, p. 96.Google Scholar - 55.A brief but authoritative discussion of this point is given in Thomson, J. J. (1936),
*Recollections*, p. 421.Google Scholar - 56.Perry (1895a),
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*Origin of Species*.Google Scholar - 58.Thompson (1910),
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*Kelvin the Man*, pp. 28–31.Google Scholar - This opinion, it should be noted, is directly contrary to that expressed in Eiseley (1961),
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*Darwin’s Religious Views*.)Google Scholar - 62.Hutton (1788),
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*Strategy of Lyell’s Principles*, especially pp. 7–8.Google Scholar - 64.Kelvin makes this point specifically clear several times, as for example in Kelvin (1863a),
*Secular Cooling*, p. 295Google Scholar - Kelvin (1871b),
*Geological Dynamics*, p. 77.Google Scholar

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© Science History Publications 1975