Lord Kelvin and the Age-of-the-Earth Debate: A Dramatization
Rent the article at a discountRent now
* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.Get Access
This is a dramatization of a fictitious debate about the age of the earth that takes place in the Royal Institution, London, England, in the year 1872. The debate is among Sir William Thomson (later Kelvin), T.H. Huxley (Darwin's ‘Bulldog’), Sir Charles Lyell, and Hermann von Helmholtz. In 1862 Thomson published his celebrated and widely studied ‘The Secular Cooling of the Earth’ that raised the post-Darwinian debate of the age of the earth above the level of popular controversy. He entered the debate with all the arrogance of a newly established ‘science of the century’, namely the recently drafted laws of thermodynamics. The debate is partly based on a lively exchange of comments and arguments that occurred between T.H. Huxley and William Thomson, starting in 1868, when Thomson addressed the Glasgow Geological Society. This long public discussion also involved the ideas and the work of geologist Charles Lyell and those of the celebrated German physicist Hermann von Helmholtz. The confrontation is between the unyielding physicists and the insecure biologists and geologists who required a much longer time for the age of the earth than the physicists were prepared to give them. However, the debate ends on a conciliatory note, suggesting that perhaps Sir William's ‘storehouse of creation’ may contain a hereto undiscovered source of energy that is more bountiful than gravitational energy.
- Badash, L.: 1989, ‘The Age-of-the-Earth Debate’, Scientific American, Aug., 90–96.
- Brouwer, W.: 1988, ‘The Image of the Physicist in Modern Drama’, American Journal of Physics 56(7), 611–617.
- Brouwer, W.: 1994, ‘The Image of the Physicist in Modern Drama’, Part 2, American Journal of Physics 62(3), 234–240.
- Brush, S.: 1996, Transmuted Past: The Age of the Earth and the Evolution of the Elements, from Lyell to Patterson, New York.
- Burchfield, J.: 1975, Lord Kelvin and the Age of the Earth, Science History Publications.
- Dalrymple, B.: 1991, The Age of the Earth, Stanford University Press, Stanford.
- Hellman, H.: 1998, Great Feuds in Science: Ten of the Liveliest Disputes Ever, John Wiley & Sons, New York.
- Lewis, C.: 2000, The Dating Game: One Man's Search for the Age of the Earth, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
- Pantidos, P. Spathi, K. & Vitoratos, E.: 2001, The Use of Drama in Science Education: The Case of ‘Blegdamsvey Faust’, Vol. 10, Nos. 1-2, pp. 100–117.
- Ponting, R.L.: 1978, ‘Combining Physics and Drama’, The Physics Teacher 16(7), 482–483.
- Raman, V.: 1980, ‘Teaching Aristotelian Physics through Dialogue, The Physics Teacher 18, 580–583.
- Smith, C. & Wise N.: 1989, Energy and Empire, A biographical study of Lord Kelvin, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
- Solomon, J.: 1989, ‘The Retrial of Galileo’, in Don Emil Herget (ed.), The History and Philosophy of Science in Science Science Teaching. Proceedings of the First International Conference, pp. 332–339.
- Stinner, A.: 1995, ‘Contextual Settings, Science Stories, and Large Context Problems: Toward a More Humanistic Science Education’, Science Education 79(5), 555–581.
- Stinner, A.: 2000, ‘Lord Kelvin and the Age-of-the-Earth Debate’, Physics in Canada Nov./Dec., 321–332.
- Stinner, A.: 2002, ‘Calculating the Age of the Earth and the Sun’, Physics Education 37(4), 296–305.
- Thomson, W.: 1890. Mathematical and Physical Papers, Vol. III, C.J. Clay and Sons, Cambridge University Press, London.
- Lord Kelvin and the Age-of-the-Earth Debate: A Dramatization
Science & Education
Volume 12, Issue 2 , pp 213-228
- Cover Date
- Print ISSN
- Online ISSN
- Kluwer Academic Publishers
- Additional Links