Reinout Willem van Bemmelen

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Reinout Willem van Bemmelen (April 14, 1904 Batavia (Dutch East Indies) - November 19, 1983 Unterpirkach, Austria) was a Dutch geologist, whose interests were structural geology, economic geology and volcanology. He is known for his work on these subjects and the geology of Indonesia.


  • We will be able to depart this life with the quiet peace-giving notion, that we were permitted to contribute to the happiness of many who will live after us. In our long lives we endeavored to unfold the collective consciousness. In our lives we have known hell and heaven; the final balance, however, is that we helped pave the way to dynamic harmony in this earthly house. That, I believe, is the meaning of this live.

"The Scientific Character of Geology," 1961[edit]

Reinout Willem van Bemmelen in: "The Scientific Character of Geology," The Journal of Geology, The University of Chicago Press, Bryn Mawr College, (July 1961), Vol 69, No. 4.

  • The subjective element in geological studies accounts for two characteristic types that can be distinguished among geologists. One considering geology as a creative art, the other regarding geology as an exact science.
    • p. 453; quoted in: Robert Woodtli (1964), Methods of Prospection for Chromite, p. 80
  • The functional validity of a working hypothesis is not a priori certain, because often it is initially based on intuition. However, logical deductions from such a hypothesis provide expectations (so called prognoses) as to the circumstances under which certain phenomena will appear in nature. Such a postulate or working hypothesis can then be substantiated by additional observations or by experiments especially arranged to test details. The value of the hypothesis is strengthened if the observed facts fit the expectation within the limits of permissible error.
    • p. 454; As cited in: Alberta Research Council, ‎Research Council of Alberta (1964), Bulletin - Alberta Research Council. Vol. 15-17, p. 31
  • An example of such emergent phenomena is the origin of life from non-living chemical compounds in the oldest, lifeless oceans of the earth. Here, aided by the radiation energy received from the sun, countless chemical materials were synthesized and accumulated in such a way that they constituted, as it were, a primeval “soup.” In this primeval soup, by infinite variations of lifeless growth and decay of substances during some billions of years, the way of life was ultimately reached, with its metabolism characterized by selective assimilation and dissimulation as end stations of a sluiced and canalized flow of free chemical energy.

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