Geologists mention at times something they call the Picture…The oolites and dolomite—tuff and granite, the Pequop siltstones and shales—are pieces of the Picture. The stories that go with them…may well, as stories, stand on their own, but are all fragments of the Picture.
The foremost problem with the Picture is that ninety-nine percent of it is missing—melted or dissolved, torn down, washed away, broken to bits, to become something else in the Picture. The geologist discovers lingering remains, and connects them with dotted lines. The Picture is enhanced by filling in the lines…
…describe themselves and their colleagues as scientific versions of the characters in John Godfrey Saxe’s version of the Hindu fable of the blind men and the elephant. “We are blind men feeling the elephant…” The first man of Indostan touches the animal’s side and thinks it must be some sort of living wall. The second touches a tusk and thinks an elephant is like a spear. The others, in turn, touch the trunk, an ear, the tail, a knee—”snake,” “fan,” “rope,” “tree.”
“Though each was partly in the right, All were in the wrong!”
He was saying that as a general rule material will flow rather than fracture if it is hotter than half its melting point measured from absolute zero. At room temperature, you can bend tin and lead. They are solid but they flow…At room temperature, you cannot bend iron or glass.
“The result, therefore, of this physical inquiry is, that we find no vestige of a beginning, no prospect of an end.”
“If you free yourself from the conventional reaction to a quantity like a million years, you free yourself a bit from the boundaries of human time. And then in a way you do not live at all, but in another way you live forever.”
“The writer has attempted to invent an evolution for ocean basins.It is hardly likely that all the of the numerous assumptions made are correct. Nevertheless it appears to be a useful framework for testing various and sundry groups of hypotheses relating to the oceans. It is hoped that the framework with necessary patching and repair may eventually form the basis for a new and sounder structure.”