BOOK: The Mountain Mystery

Ron Miksha, The Mountain Mystery (CreateSpace Independent Publishing, 2014), 330 pp.

Publisher’s description: Fifty years ago, no one could explain mountains. Arguments about their origin were spirited, to say the least. Progressive scientists were ridiculed for their ideas. Most geologists thought the Earth was shrinking. Contracting like a hot ball of iron, shrinking and exposing ridges that became mountains. Others were quite sure the planet was expanding. Growth widened sea basins and raised mountains. There was yet another idea, the theory that the world’s crust was broken into big plates that jostled around, drifting until they collided and jarred mountains into existence. That idea was invariably dismissed as pseudo-science. Or “utter damned rot” as one prominent scientist said. But the doubtful theory of plate tectonics prevailed. Mountains, earthquakes, ancient ice ages, even veins of gold and fields of oil are now seen as the offspring of moving tectonic plates. Just half a century ago, most geologists sternly rejected the idea of drifting continents. But a few intrepid champions of plate tectonics dared to differ. The Mountain Mystery tells their story.

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4 thoughts on “BOOK: The Mountain Mystery

  1. Have you read this? I’ve read Naomi Oreskes’ book on Plate Tectonics which brought together many of the key players in the field to write about their and their colleagues’ contributions. Just wondered how much overlap there is with this book and if there’s anything new in it?

  2. jtweedie: This is an excellent question. When I wrote The Mountain Mystery, I was aware of Naomi Oreskes’ excellent book. But it was written over ten years ago and is largely a scholarly collection of tales (very good ones) about plate tectonics as it was unfolding. The Mountain Mystery brings us up to date with 2014′s latest discoveries, has a strong bias regarding the stifling role of religion and stubbornly ingrained scientific dogmatism, and (I’ve been told) is at times pretty funny. It is a rather different species from Oreskes’ book. Unlike other books on the subject, The Mountain Mystery covers a much broader range of time, with brief stories going back to Babylon, Greece, the Renaissance (Gilbert, Bruno, Bacon), as well as ample coverage of Alfred Wegener and his times. If you would like to get a bit of the flavor of the book, some excerpts (and a lot of miscellaneous ramblings) are on my blog at mountainmystery.com. – Ron Miksha

  3. Thanks for your response Ron. I’m a member of a geological society, so I mentioned the book to them, but I think I’ll get it too as it’s something that really interests me.

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