To understand the composition and structure of Earth, one must comprehend the forces that shaped it. Much the same is true of the earth sciences themselves, which originated from attempts to explain the origins of Earth and the materials of which it is composed. Before the modern era, such explanations had roots in religion, mythology, or philosophy and drew from preconceived ideas rather than from observed data. A turning point came with the development of the scientific method, a habit of thinking that spread from astronomy and physics to chemistry and the earth sciences.

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