General History & Paleogeography

fossil science

The Western Interior Seaway : An introduction to the general history, Paleogeography, and Ammonite record

Abstract: Throughout most of the Cretaceous, rapid sea floor spreading rates contributed to a rise in global sea levels culminating in a Phanerozoic all time high. Regionally this allowed flooding to occur in the lower lying regions of central North America in a predominately north/south axis forming the Western Interior Seaway.

Minor sea level fluctuations, tectonic events, and variations between deposition and subsidence rates formed complex cyclic deposits primarily composed of clastics (chiefly sandstone and shale) or carbonates (limestones). These fluctuations also acted as “gates” controlling entry into, or exit from the seaway of marine organisms by physical barriers or changes in ocean temperature and/or chemistry.

Ammonites left an impressive 50 million year record in the seaway and are the principal tools used in the regions biostratagraphic correlation. Additionally Ammonites are educational in evolutionary studies and are highly regarded by amateur & commercial fossil collectors alike.

Studies in progress are now unraveling their complex evolutionary history. Related websites are suggested as well as text. Selected specimens from the N.S. Brown collection are figured.Continue reading →

Is Free Will Real?

free will

Is free will real? This is one of the most fundamental questions in the history of philosophy. Recent work in philosophy, theology, and the natural sciences points in conflicting directions – both within and across fields. The Big Questions in Free Will (BQFW) project aims to promote a resolution of these conflicts by fostering collaborative research along three dimensions.

Although the BQFW project offers funding under three different headings, the project intends to favor research that takes advantage of interdisciplinary approaches. Too often research on free will in the humanities goes on in ways that fail to engage the rapidly growing reservoir of relevant empirical data.

However, it is also true that scientific work on free will often fails to reflect on the various models of free will that have been articulated in the philosophical tradition and to utilize the important conceptual distinctions developed within these traditions.

The BQFW project aims to remedy these shortcomings in a few ways. The first way is intended to promote greater conceptual clarity and transparency. As in so many types of interdisciplinary research, conceptual and linguistic clarity is important (and rare). Discussions of free will often employ common terminology, albeit used in equivocal ways.Continue reading →