To salute Nicolas Steno, Google has dug up an especially beautiful “Doodle.”
The Danish natural scientist — who was born “Niels Stensen” on Jan. 11, 1638 — is widely considered the father of geology.
Fittingly, today’s green-topped logo is rendered as rock strata with embedded fossils — reflecting twin ideas for which Steno is best known.
The strata illustrate Steno’s “principle of original horizonality,” which essentially says that rock layers form horizontally — and only appear differently if later disturbances cause the deviation. And the fossils in the lower stratified rock help illustrate Steno’s “law of superposition,” which — simply put — says that the oldest rock layers are sequentially deposited on the bottom unless otherwise disturbed.
For such research, Steno also became known as the father of stratigraphy.
As a young man, Steno set out to study medicine, leaving his native Copenhagen in his early 20s for the University of Leiden in the Netherlands. He then studied anatomy in Italy, where his research on shark teeth led him to question, among other things, how one solid object could be found inside another — such as with fossils. His ideas on “solid bodies within bodies” were published in 1669 in his seminal Prodromus dissertation.
Steno, however, would soon leave science behind. Born into a Lutheran family, he converted to Catholicism and was ordained as a priest in 1675 and became a titular bishop two years later.
Steno died in 1686, at age 48, in Schwerin, Germany.
And today, Google visually beatifies Steno in the most prominent way it knows how.
Geologic City (Smudge Studio)
In 2010, we set out to create a field guide for New York City residents and visitors who want to sense for themselves the forces of deep time that course through the City and give it form, dynamism and material reality. We began to identify geologic materials that make up iconic pieces of New York architecture and infrastructure, trace them to their origins, and place them on the geologic time scale. But we soon realized that the materials and forces we were encountering were not things. They were lively actors.
Sendai/Tohoku-oki earthquake displacements across the entire Japanese GPS monitoring network (University of Alaska Fairbanks Geophysical Institute)