PAUL D STEWART / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY PAUL D STEWART / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
John Playfair (1748-1819), Scottish geologist and mathematician. In 1802 Playfair published 'Illustrations of the Huttonian Theory of the Earth'. This book explained James Hutton's uniformitarian theories of geological activity. These had been very difficult to understand as written by their author, but Playfair's book popularised these revolutionary theories. In 1795 Playfair published 'Elements of Geometry' in which he set out an alternative form of Euclid's fifth postulate.
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