The Oyster Club

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In Hutton’s description, it had once been molten, exhibiting “the liquefying power and expansive force of subterranean fire.” Hutton’s insight was phenomenal but not infallible. He saw marble as having once been lava, when in fact it is limestone cooked under pressure in place. Item by item, as the picture coalesced, Hutton did not keep it entirely to himself. He routinely spent his  zakelijke energie evenings in conversation with friends, among them Joseph Black, the chemist, whose responses may have served as a sort of fixed foot to the wide-swinging arcs of Hutton’s speculations-about the probable effect on certain materials of varying ratios of temperature and pressure, about the story of the forming of rock. Hutton was an impulsive, highly creative thinker. Black was deliberate and critical. Black had a judgmental look, a lean and somber look. Hutton had dark eyes that flashed
with humor under a far-gone hairline and an oolitic forehead full of stored information. Black is regarded as the discoverer of carbon dioxide. He is one of the great figures in the history of chemistry. Hutton and Black were among the founders of an institution called the Oyster Club, where they whiled away an evening a week with their preferred companions-Adam Smith, David Hume, John Playfair, John Clerk, Robert Adam, Adam Ferguson, and, when they zakelijke energie vergelijken were in town, visitors from near and far such as James Watt and Benjamin Franklin. Franklin called these people “a set of as truly great men …a s have ever appeared in any Age or Country.” The period has since been described as the Scottish Enlightenment, but for the moment it was only described as the Oyster Club. Hutton, who drank nothing, was a veritable cup running over with enthusiasm for the achievements of his friends. When Watt came to town to report distinct progress with his steam engine, Hutton reacted with so much pleasure that one might have thought he was building the thing himself. While the others busied themselves with their economics, their architecture, art, mathematics, and physics, their naval tactics and ranging philosophies, Hutton shared with them the developing fragments of his picture of the earth, which, in years to come, would gradually remove the human world from a specious position in time in much the way that Copernicus had removed us from a specious position in the universe. A century after Hutton, a historian would note that “the direct antagonism between science and theology which appeared in Catholicism at the time of the discoveries of Copernicus and Galileo was not seriously felt in Protestantism till geologists began to impugn the Mosaic account of the creation.”

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