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Google Honors Bl. Nicholas Steno

You may have noticed the Google Doodle today, a rocky-looking thing which turns out to be a reference to Blessed Nicholas Steno, a Danish priest (actually named Steensen) who did some pioneering work in geology. Steno12-sr I was not aware of him before today, so I appreciate Google having brought him to my attention. And I'm glad they made note of someone who was not only a Catholic priest, and not only a scientist, but possibly a saint

One suspects, though, that Google, which generally avoids any religious significance for its Doodles, wasn't much interested in the Catholic aspect of Steno's life. When you click on the Doodle, you get (at least as of this writing) a series of articles praising him as a "mythbuster" and opponent of "creationsim." To say that this distorts his life is an understatement. It's curious that if you simply search for "Nicholas Steno", you get a somewhat different set of results, in which the "mythbuster" theme is less prominent. 

Try it. This is the URL which the Doodle uses:

And this is the one generated when you do a simple Google search:

I don't know what those parameters ("ct=...") at the end of the Google URL mean. No, I don't think Google somehow engineered the "mythbuster" results. But it's odd. And certainly reflective of a widespread attitude: sure, he may have actually believed that Catholic stuff, but that's just because he wasn't far enough along in enlightenment; his real importance was that he us.


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Sadly, Google Books tends not to include illustrations - even those long out of copyright; but here (if you scroll down everso slightly) you see showing through the page the engraving of a fossilized shark's tooth from (a later edition of) the book in which Steno for the first time correctly identified one as such. (I wrote my Master's thesis about a man who called them "tongue stones".)

"tongue stones"? I was about to ask who that man was when I noticed your link. Sounds like a very interesting fellow. I think "Restitution of Decayed Intelligence in Antiquities" must be one of the greatest titles ever.

His discussion of them is also on Google Books. Scroll down slightly for the picture, and up a page for the beginning of his description (and an wonderful reader's annotation, made 140 years after the book was first published).

It'f alwayf fo bumpy following thofe old bookf where they use f for f.

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