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Bruce Yardley appointed Chief Geologist

Bruce Yardley (Leeds University) has been appointed Chief Geologist by The Radioactive Waste Management Directorate (RWMD) of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA).

Chartership news

Chartership Officer Bill Gaskarth reports on a projected new logo for use by CGeols, advice on applications and company training schemes

Climate Change Statement Addendum

The Society has published an addendum to 'Climate Change: Evidence from the Geological Record' (November 2010) taking account of new research

Cracking up in Lincolnshire

Oliver Pritchard, Stephen Hallett, and Timothy Farewell consider the role of soil science in maintaining the British 'evolved road'

Critical metals

Kathryn Goodenough* on a Society-sponsored hunt for the rare metals that underpin new technologies

Déja vu all over again

As Nina Morgan Discovers, the debate over HS2 is nothing new...

Done proud

Ted Nield hails the new refurbished Council Room as evidence that the Society is growing up

Earth Science Week 2014

Fellows - renew, vote for Council, and volunteer for Earth Science Week 2014!  Also - who is honoured in the Society's Awards and Medals 2014.

Fookes celebrated

Peter Fookes (Imperial College, London) celebrated at Society event in honour of Engineering Group Working Parties and their reports

Geology - poor relation?

When are University Earth Science departments going to shed their outmoded obsession with maths, physics and chemistry?

Nancy Tupholme

Nancy Tupholme, Librarian of the Society and the Royal Society, has died, reports Wendy Cawthorne.

Power, splendour and high camp

Ted Nield reviews the refurbishment of the Council Room, Burlington House

The Sir Archibald Geikie Archive at Haslemere Educational Museum

You can help the Haslemere Educational Museum to identify subjects in Sir Archibald Geikie's amazing field notebook sketches, writes John Betterton.

Top bananas

Who are the top 100 UK practising scientists?  The Science Council knows...

'Twas ever thus

As geologist and science writer Nina Morgan discovers, it’s never been easy to pin down a scientist

Jeremy PaxmanGeoscientist 22.06 July 2012

It’s a common complaint from listeners to news programmes such as Radio Four’s Today. No matter how hard the interviewer tries, scientists being interviewed almost always hedge their answers with a plethora of caveats. In short, they are generally reluctant to state any finding as a firm conclusion. 

If it’s any consolation to the Jeremy Paxmans of this world, their predecessors in the 19th Century suffered the same difficulties. And, then as now, scientists were often reluctant to give straight answers, even when speaking to their peers. A letter about The Pilsen Permo-Carboniferous Beds published in the Geological Magazine in March 1877, illustrates the case:

“Sir, -- In the extremely interesting paper on the Permo-Carboniferous beds of Bohemia which appears in the current number of the Geological Magazine, Dr O Feistmantel appears to rely very strongly on the announcement which he says was made by Dr Anton Fritsch at the last meeting of the British Association that he considered the Nürschan Gas-coal horizon as a passage-bed from Carboniferous to Permian. Now when Dr Fritsch exhibited his splendid series of specimens before the Geological Section, it was evident that he avoided carefully expressing any statement of opinion as to the exact age of the beds whence they came.

A member then rose and asked Dr Fritsch whether he considered the Pilsen Gas-coal series as Carboniferous or Permian, or whether he looked upon them as passage-beds. The only answer elicited from the cautions palaeontologist was that it was not yet time to settle the matter, and that more work was required before the question was ripe for decision. In fact, he declined to give any clue as to what his views on the subject might be.
8 March 1877 [signed] The Questioner Himself”

Sound familiar?


The source for this vignette is a letter titled The Pilsen Permo-Carboniferous Beds, which was published in the Geological Magazine, Decade 2, vol. 4, p.191
  •  If the past is the key to your present interests, why not join the History of Geology Group (HOGG)? For more information and to read the latest HOGG newsletter,, where the programme and abstracts from the Conference on Geological Collectors and Collecting are available as a pdf file free to download.

*Nina Morgan is a geologist and science writer based near Oxford.