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Home Counties: A Series of Unfortunate Events

20 March 2019
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Event type:
Lecture, Regional Group
Organised by:
Home Counties North Regional Group
The Geological Society, Burlington House, London
Event status:

– or, why we should stop worrying to learn to love the ‘dreaded thunderstone’.

When Gavrilo Princip fired his gun in Sarajevo in 1914, killing Archduke Ferdinand of Austria and his wife Sophie, he unleashed a series of events that led to the First World War.  But why did that single event precipitate a catastrophe, and bring about the death, not only of tens of millions of people, but the whole European social order?  And what does this have to do with the extinction of the dinosaurs?  

In this talk I shall explore how simple, single causes (such as the impact of an asteroid) cannot alone bring about mass extinctions, as physicists, wielding Occam's Razor, might prefer.  That explanation may be simple, but simple explanations of complex systems behave are doctrinaire and wrong. 


6 pm for refreshments with lecture beginning at 6.30 pm.


This event is free of charge.


Dr Ted Nield

Dr Ted Nield retired after 20 years with The Geological Society of London in June 2018.  He was Editor of Geoscientist.  A science journalist with a geology background (BSc Swansea, PhD Cardiff) he worked first as a carbonate sedimentologist in the oil business before deciding to convert his 'field' into his 'material', and write about science and scientists instead.  

He wrote mainly for New Scientist, The Guardian and The Independent as well as the New York Academy of Sciences' magazine, 'The Sciences'.  For 10 years until 1997 he worked for the CVCP as spokesman for the UK University system.  He has served as Chair of the Association of British Science Writers and has written two palaeontology textbooks (Pergamon) as well as three critically acclaimed trade books (Granta), entitled Supercontinent (2007), Incoming! (2010) and Underlands (2014).


Registration is essential as there are a limited number of seats available in the venue.  Priority will be given to Fellows, Candidate Fellows and Juniors of the Geological Society who are members of the Home Counties North Regional Group. Please book your places on a first-come-first-served basis by e-mail to

Further details

Contact the group secretary for more information.


The Geological Society

Burlington House