full transcript

From the Ted Talk by Addison Anderson: The most groundbreaking scientist you've never heard of

Unscramble the Blue Letters

nilcoas Steno is rarely heard of outside Intro to Geology, but anyone hinopg to understand life on eatrh should see how Steno expanded and connected those very concepts: Earth, life, and understanding. Born nleis Stensen in 1638 Denmark, son of a goldsmith, he was a sickly kid whose school cmhus died of plague. He survived to cut up corpses as an anatomist, studying organs shared across species. He found a duct in animal skulls that sends sialva to the mouth. He rfetued Descartes' idea that only humans had a pineal gland, proving it wasn't the seat of the soul, arguably, the debut of neuroscience. Most remarkable for the time was his moethd. Steno never let ancient txtes, Aristotelian metaphysics, or Cartesian deductions overrule empirical, eeaxirtmepnl evidence. His vision, ueurtntceld by scatoiepuln or rationalization, went deep. Steno had seen how gallstones form in wet ornags by accretion. They obeyed molding principles he knew from the goldsmith trade, rules useful across disciplines for understanding solids by their structural relationships. Later, the Grand Duke of Tuscany had him dissect a shark. Its teeth resembled tongue stnoes, odd rocks seen inside other rocks in mltaa and the mountains near Florence. Pliny the Elder, old Roman naturalist, said these fell from the sky. In the Dark Ages, folks said they were snake tongues, petrified by Saint Paul. Steno saw that tongue stones were shark teeth and vice versa, with the same signs of structural growth. Figuring similar things are made in similar ways, he argued the ancient tteeh came from ancient skrahs in waerts that formed rock around the teeth and became muonnitas. Rock layers were once layers of watery sediment, which would lay out horizontally, one atop another, oldest up to newest. If layers were deformed, tilted, cut by a fault or a canyon, that change came after the layer formed. Sounds simple today; back then, rerilntuvooay. He'd invented stratigraphy and laid geology's ground work. By finding one oirign for srahk teeth from two eras by stating natural laws ruling the present also ruled the past, Steno planted seeds for uniformitarianism, the idea that the past was sehpad by pcroseess observable today. In the 18th and 19th centuries, elnsigh uniformitarian geologists, James Hutton and Charles Lyell, studied current, very slow rteas of erosion and sedimentation and realized the Earth had to be way older than the biblical gtamteuise, 6000 years. Out of their work came the rock cycle, which combined with ptlae tectonics in the mid-twentieth century to give us the great molten-crusting, quaking, all-encircling theory of the Earth, from a gallstone to a 4.5 billion-year-old planet. Now think bigger, take it to biology. Say you see shark teeth in one leyar and a fossil of an organism you've never seen under that. The deeepr fossil's older, yes? You now have evidence of the origin and extinction of species over time. Get uniformitarian. Maybe a process still active today caused changes not just in rkocs but in life. It might also explain sirltiamieis and differences between seceips found by anatomists like setno. It's a lot to ponder, but ceharls dwiran had the time on a long trip to the Galapagos, reading a copy of his friend Charles Lyell's "Principles of Geology," which Steno sort of founded. Sometimes giants stand on the shoulders of curious little people. Nicolas Steno heelpd evolve evolution, broke gunord for geology, and showed how unbiased, empirical observation can cut across intellectual borders to deepen our perspective. His finest aslcmpinohmect, though, may be his maxim, casting the search for truth beyond our senses and our ceurnrt understanding as the psiurut of the baetuy of the as yet unknown. Beautiful is what we see, more beautiful is what we know, most beautiful, by far, is what we don't.

Open Cloze

_______ Steno is rarely heard of outside Intro to Geology, but anyone ______ to understand life on _____ should see how Steno expanded and connected those very concepts: Earth, life, and understanding. Born _____ Stensen in 1638 Denmark, son of a goldsmith, he was a sickly kid whose school _____ died of plague. He survived to cut up corpses as an anatomist, studying organs shared across species. He found a duct in animal skulls that sends ______ to the mouth. He _______ Descartes' idea that only humans had a pineal gland, proving it wasn't the seat of the soul, arguably, the debut of neuroscience. Most remarkable for the time was his ______. Steno never let ancient _____, Aristotelian metaphysics, or Cartesian deductions overrule empirical, ____________ evidence. His vision, ___________ by ___________ or rationalization, went deep. Steno had seen how gallstones form in wet ______ by accretion. They obeyed molding principles he knew from the goldsmith trade, rules useful across disciplines for understanding solids by their structural relationships. Later, the Grand Duke of Tuscany had him dissect a shark. Its teeth resembled tongue ______, odd rocks seen inside other rocks in _____ and the mountains near Florence. Pliny the Elder, old Roman naturalist, said these fell from the sky. In the Dark Ages, folks said they were snake tongues, petrified by Saint Paul. Steno saw that tongue stones were shark teeth and vice versa, with the same signs of structural growth. Figuring similar things are made in similar ways, he argued the ancient _____ came from ancient ______ in ______ that formed rock around the teeth and became _________. Rock layers were once layers of watery sediment, which would lay out horizontally, one atop another, oldest up to newest. If layers were deformed, tilted, cut by a fault or a canyon, that change came after the layer formed. Sounds simple today; back then, _____________. He'd invented stratigraphy and laid geology's ground work. By finding one ______ for _____ teeth from two eras by stating natural laws ruling the present also ruled the past, Steno planted seeds for uniformitarianism, the idea that the past was ______ by _________ observable today. In the 18th and 19th centuries, _______ uniformitarian geologists, James Hutton and Charles Lyell, studied current, very slow _____ of erosion and sedimentation and realized the Earth had to be way older than the biblical __________, 6000 years. Out of their work came the rock cycle, which combined with _____ tectonics in the mid-twentieth century to give us the great molten-crusting, quaking, all-encircling theory of the Earth, from a gallstone to a 4.5 billion-year-old planet. Now think bigger, take it to biology. Say you see shark teeth in one _____ and a fossil of an organism you've never seen under that. The ______ fossil's older, yes? You now have evidence of the origin and extinction of species over time. Get uniformitarian. Maybe a process still active today caused changes not just in _____ but in life. It might also explain ____________ and differences between _______ found by anatomists like _____. It's a lot to ponder, but _______ ______ had the time on a long trip to the Galapagos, reading a copy of his friend Charles Lyell's "Principles of Geology," which Steno sort of founded. Sometimes giants stand on the shoulders of curious little people. Nicolas Steno ______ evolve evolution, broke ______ for geology, and showed how unbiased, empirical observation can cut across intellectual borders to deepen our perspective. His finest ______________, though, may be his maxim, casting the search for truth beyond our senses and our _______ understanding as the _______ of the ______ of the as yet unknown. Beautiful is what we see, more beautiful is what we know, most beautiful, by far, is what we don't.

Solution

  1. waters
  2. rocks
  3. darwin
  4. refuted
  5. processes
  6. texts
  7. sharks
  8. accomplishment
  9. charles
  10. beauty
  11. shark
  12. rates
  13. deeper
  14. niels
  15. teeth
  16. organs
  17. layer
  18. uncluttered
  19. mountains
  20. nicolas
  21. species
  22. current
  23. plate
  24. helped
  25. english
  26. method
  27. stones
  28. similarities
  29. saliva
  30. chums
  31. speculation
  32. shaped
  33. ground
  34. experimental
  35. malta
  36. guestimate
  37. pursuit
  38. earth
  39. revolutionary
  40. steno
  41. hoping
  42. origin

Original Text

Nicolas Steno is rarely heard of outside Intro to Geology, but anyone hoping to understand life on Earth should see how Steno expanded and connected those very concepts: Earth, life, and understanding. Born Niels Stensen in 1638 Denmark, son of a goldsmith, he was a sickly kid whose school chums died of plague. He survived to cut up corpses as an anatomist, studying organs shared across species. He found a duct in animal skulls that sends saliva to the mouth. He refuted Descartes' idea that only humans had a pineal gland, proving it wasn't the seat of the soul, arguably, the debut of neuroscience. Most remarkable for the time was his method. Steno never let ancient texts, Aristotelian metaphysics, or Cartesian deductions overrule empirical, experimental evidence. His vision, uncluttered by speculation or rationalization, went deep. Steno had seen how gallstones form in wet organs by accretion. They obeyed molding principles he knew from the goldsmith trade, rules useful across disciplines for understanding solids by their structural relationships. Later, the Grand Duke of Tuscany had him dissect a shark. Its teeth resembled tongue stones, odd rocks seen inside other rocks in Malta and the mountains near Florence. Pliny the Elder, old Roman naturalist, said these fell from the sky. In the Dark Ages, folks said they were snake tongues, petrified by Saint Paul. Steno saw that tongue stones were shark teeth and vice versa, with the same signs of structural growth. Figuring similar things are made in similar ways, he argued the ancient teeth came from ancient sharks in waters that formed rock around the teeth and became mountains. Rock layers were once layers of watery sediment, which would lay out horizontally, one atop another, oldest up to newest. If layers were deformed, tilted, cut by a fault or a canyon, that change came after the layer formed. Sounds simple today; back then, revolutionary. He'd invented stratigraphy and laid geology's ground work. By finding one origin for shark teeth from two eras by stating natural laws ruling the present also ruled the past, Steno planted seeds for uniformitarianism, the idea that the past was shaped by processes observable today. In the 18th and 19th centuries, English uniformitarian geologists, James Hutton and Charles Lyell, studied current, very slow rates of erosion and sedimentation and realized the Earth had to be way older than the biblical guestimate, 6000 years. Out of their work came the rock cycle, which combined with plate tectonics in the mid-twentieth century to give us the great molten-crusting, quaking, all-encircling theory of the Earth, from a gallstone to a 4.5 billion-year-old planet. Now think bigger, take it to biology. Say you see shark teeth in one layer and a fossil of an organism you've never seen under that. The deeper fossil's older, yes? You now have evidence of the origin and extinction of species over time. Get uniformitarian. Maybe a process still active today caused changes not just in rocks but in life. It might also explain similarities and differences between species found by anatomists like Steno. It's a lot to ponder, but Charles Darwin had the time on a long trip to the Galapagos, reading a copy of his friend Charles Lyell's "Principles of Geology," which Steno sort of founded. Sometimes giants stand on the shoulders of curious little people. Nicolas Steno helped evolve evolution, broke ground for geology, and showed how unbiased, empirical observation can cut across intellectual borders to deepen our perspective. His finest accomplishment, though, may be his maxim, casting the search for truth beyond our senses and our current understanding as the pursuit of the beauty of the as yet unknown. Beautiful is what we see, more beautiful is what we know, most beautiful, by far, is what we don't.

Frequently Occurring Word Combinations

ngrams of length 2

collocation frequency
shark teeth 3
nicolas steno 2

Important Words

  1. accomplishment
  2. accretion
  3. active
  4. ages
  5. anatomist
  6. anatomists
  7. ancient
  8. animal
  9. arguably
  10. argued
  11. aristotelian
  12. atop
  13. beautiful
  14. beauty
  15. biblical
  16. bigger
  17. biology
  18. borders
  19. born
  20. broke
  21. canyon
  22. cartesian
  23. casting
  24. caused
  25. centuries
  26. century
  27. change
  28. charles
  29. chums
  30. combined
  31. connected
  32. copy
  33. corpses
  34. curious
  35. current
  36. cut
  37. cycle
  38. dark
  39. darwin
  40. debut
  41. deductions
  42. deep
  43. deepen
  44. deeper
  45. deformed
  46. denmark
  47. died
  48. differences
  49. disciplines
  50. dissect
  51. duct
  52. duke
  53. earth
  54. elder
  55. empirical
  56. english
  57. eras
  58. erosion
  59. evidence
  60. evolution
  61. evolve
  62. expanded
  63. experimental
  64. explain
  65. extinction
  66. fault
  67. fell
  68. figuring
  69. finding
  70. finest
  71. florence
  72. folks
  73. form
  74. formed
  75. fossil
  76. founded
  77. friend
  78. galapagos
  79. gallstone
  80. gallstones
  81. geologists
  82. geology
  83. giants
  84. give
  85. gland
  86. goldsmith
  87. grand
  88. great
  89. ground
  90. growth
  91. guestimate
  92. heard
  93. helped
  94. hoping
  95. horizontally
  96. humans
  97. hutton
  98. idea
  99. intellectual
  100. intro
  101. invented
  102. james
  103. kid
  104. knew
  105. laid
  106. laws
  107. lay
  108. layer
  109. layers
  110. life
  111. long
  112. lot
  113. lyell
  114. malta
  115. maxim
  116. metaphysics
  117. method
  118. molding
  119. mountains
  120. mouth
  121. natural
  122. naturalist
  123. neuroscience
  124. newest
  125. nicolas
  126. niels
  127. obeyed
  128. observable
  129. observation
  130. odd
  131. older
  132. oldest
  133. organism
  134. organs
  135. origin
  136. overrule
  137. paul
  138. people
  139. perspective
  140. petrified
  141. pineal
  142. plague
  143. planet
  144. planted
  145. plate
  146. pliny
  147. ponder
  148. present
  149. principles
  150. process
  151. processes
  152. proving
  153. pursuit
  154. quaking
  155. rarely
  156. rates
  157. rationalization
  158. reading
  159. realized
  160. refuted
  161. relationships
  162. remarkable
  163. resembled
  164. revolutionary
  165. rock
  166. rocks
  167. roman
  168. ruled
  169. rules
  170. ruling
  171. saint
  172. saliva
  173. school
  174. search
  175. seat
  176. sediment
  177. sedimentation
  178. seeds
  179. sends
  180. senses
  181. shaped
  182. shared
  183. shark
  184. sharks
  185. shoulders
  186. showed
  187. sickly
  188. signs
  189. similar
  190. similarities
  191. simple
  192. skulls
  193. sky
  194. slow
  195. snake
  196. solids
  197. son
  198. sort
  199. soul
  200. sounds
  201. species
  202. speculation
  203. stand
  204. stating
  205. steno
  206. stensen
  207. stones
  208. stratigraphy
  209. structural
  210. studied
  211. studying
  212. survived
  213. tectonics
  214. teeth
  215. texts
  216. theory
  217. tilted
  218. time
  219. today
  220. tongue
  221. tongues
  222. trade
  223. trip
  224. truth
  225. tuscany
  226. unbiased
  227. uncluttered
  228. understand
  229. understanding
  230. uniformitarian
  231. uniformitarianism
  232. unknown
  233. versa
  234. vice
  235. vision
  236. waters
  237. watery
  238. ways
  239. wet
  240. work
  241. years