School of Historical and Philosophical Studies - Theses

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    The dinosaur alliance : interdisciplinary research and the impact-extinction debate
    Jackson, Christopher ( 1995)
    This thesis examines the role of multidisciplinary research in the debates over extraterrestrial impact theories of mass extinction throughout the 1980s within a conceptual framework provided largely by Bruno Latour's Science in Action. To this end, the background of the debate is examined with respect to both the theoretical legacy of uniformitarianism and the failure of impact theories of mass extinction prior to the modern extinction debate. The ability of the Alvarez group to enrol support from a variety of sources is described and the repercussions of their research, including the input of astronomy and statistics in transforming the extinction debate into the study of the earth as part of a larger astronomical system. The volcanic challenge to impact theories is examined before concluding with a discussion of the importance of nuclear winter research and the role of the popular press in facilitating communication across disciplinary boundaries and generating support for theories of extraterrestrial mass extinction.