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Let us synchronize watches

“The mind seemed to grow giddy by looking so far into the abyss of time,“ noted John Playfair after having been introduced to geology by James Hutton. Deep time is in fact one of the main intellectual tools one must be ready to work with when wanting to do geology. Marcia Bjornerud describes how tedious the communication between geologists and people who think that the earth was created after the domestication of the dog can be. But it is not only religious people – almost everyone else finds it hard to grasp a duration of a million, 100 Million or a billion years too.

This is because time is not only an objective parameter of the fourth dimension – it is also dependent on social factors. We all know that because time passes by more quickly when we a are older and / or in company and it goes slow when we are waiting for Father Christmas to show up or when we are bored.

This social dimension of time will be looked at in my presentation. I will make use of the writings of religious scientist Mircea Eliade on time and will – with the help of the writings of geologist Marcia Bjornerud – try to describe the social implications the geological vision of time has or could and should have. Bjornerud (and I with her) is sure that geological “deep time” is not only a specific way of thinking for geologists but also a tool for social integration.


Jonas Grutzpalk1
1HSPV NRW, Germany
GeoBerlin 2023