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18 January 2013

Using a very strong light to study rock number four

To jump on the bandwagon, here is my research, described using only the 1000 most common English words. It would have been nice if “Mars” and “Laser” and “Robot” were available:


8 August 2012

Introducing ChemRex!

I neglected to mention one important development from yesterday. On landing night, after I had finished freaking out about our successful safe landing, I noticed that fellow ChemCam post-doc Nina Lanza was wearing a very special ChemCam shirt with this on the front: As a big fan of lasers and dinosaurs (my favorite toys as a kid were DinoRiders), I had to ask about it. Apparently Nina had made an …


3 August 2012

MSL: Mars Action Hero

You know, I’m tired of hearing about how the Mars Exploration Rovers are so cute, and spunky, but their successor Mars Science Lab is big and ugly. MSL isn’t supposed to be cute, it’s supposed to be awesome.

Just how awesome, you ask? I’ll tell you how awesome.


5 Ways Landing on Mars is like Having a Baby

As we draw closer and closer to Curiosity’s landing, I can’t help but think that there are some important similarities between landing on Mars and having a baby. Before you ask: no, I don’t actually know what it is like to have a kid. For that matter, I also have never experienced the landing of a Mars mission that I have been involved with. But in both cases, I know enough …


25 May 2012

Stages of numerical modeling

I’m currently working on some modeling for my thesis. For unrelated reasons, I happened to read a description of the Kübler-Ross model for stages of grief, and I realized that the cycle actually describes pretty accurately what the past couple of weeks have been like for me. Not only that, but it’s gotten to the point where even if I get my model to run, I’m immediately suspicious of the results. However, I guess since the model is running, I’ve made progress. That doesn’t mean I don’t still have issues.


28 March 2012

If you were to wander into my office this afternoon…

…this is the scene you’d see playing out.


29 February 2012

Survival geology for the space traveler

For your reading pleasure: a totally frivolous post based off musing I’ve been doing when I actually have time to sit down and watch TV.

Recently I’ve been on a scifi kick (and got sucked into watching episodes of Stargate: Universe online, which is a great way to see a whole series but a massive free-time sink). Interpersonal issues aside, the characters on SGU, who are stuck on an alien spaceship on the other side of the universe, spend a lot of time visiting new planets, looking for resources like food and water. Sometimes the main barrier to this is an alien critter that doesn’t like them much, but often they end up on deserted planets with little more than a “well, you can breathe and it’s not too cold” from the probes they send through first.


28 October 2011

I get comments…

Usually the spam comments I get are the usual – trying to advertise or sell something or interest me in services of a sexual/pharmaceutical nature. But sometimes I get things that are, shall we say, bizarre. This one, I had to share:


27 October 2011

Occupy Science!

A collection of space and planetary-themed parodies of the 99% movement, including a couple that I made myself!


10 October 2011

Evil Geologist Volcano Lairs: Location is key

A little while back, the Geological Society of London Blog posted about the best volcanoes for evil scientist lairs. Erik Klemetti didn’t like the top 5 choices, and decided to reveal his own: Mount Erebus. I have to admit, having evil (penguin) minions and an isolated location is pretty good for a mad scientist. And lava lakes are cool (and hot). But if I’m going to be spending all my time in my evil scientist lair, the climate had darn well better be warm, because I spend enough of my time dealing with below-freezing temperatures here in Buffalo. No Antarctica for me! So my evil lair is going to be in the South Pacific on Pagan Island. Never heard of it? Here’s why it’s awesome:


15 September 2011

Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Red Dust’ Album About Mars

The geniuses at The Onion have come up with a brilliant article about Bruce Springsteen releasing a Mars sci-fi themed album.


29 May 2009

So true

As a followup to my AGU posts, an offering from Surviving The World (my new favorite webcomic):


14 May 2009

I wish I could have done this in my intro geo labs

Unfortunately, I highly suspect I would have had to spend a lot of time afterward avoiding irate parents and cell-phone-addicted students if I’d tried to chuck their gadgets out into the hall.


5 May 2009

If I were a geologist on Star Trek…

…I could apply for a joint medical degree, because sometimes rocks need doctoring. …Sometimes a rock hammer wouldn’t be enough to deal with those really stubborn minerals. …I could give up hand lenses, thin sections, petrographic microscopes, microprobes, XRD, and point counting for this… (although a good geologist would never give up their hand lens) …It wouldn’t take me until the end of the episode to figure out that I …


1 April 2009

Poor land-use planning and volcanoes

From So it looks like someone is already moving in on the new land created by the eruption of Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai near Tonga*. That’s right – with enough Pa’angas, you could own some of the newest land on the planet, if you don’t mind digging yourself out from under the tephra every few days. The article I found didn’t say much about who’s claimed the land, but it …


24 March 2009

Sweet irony

Guess who isn’t commenting on the eruption of Mount Redoubt? Sometimes nature has really perfect timing.


5 February 2009

It’s getting a little nippy out there

Having lived in the mid-Atlantic my entire life, I’m finding it a bit hard to get adjusted to how cold it can get around here sometimes. (If any of you live in Alaska or the Dakotas or Minnesota or other such places, you’re allowed to scoff, but I’m sure glad I’m not living where you are!) For example, here’s what I saw when I checked this morning: Being a …


11 June 2008

And geology is…

(From …way over to the right somewhere. Possibly off the screen. Yeah, we use ALL that stuff.


23 May 2008

I wanna be a Science Scout!

I just found this website (part of the Science Creative Quarterly), and I had to get my own “flair”. (Never was in the Scouts, but I was always a little jealous of the cool badges.) Apparently some of the folks up at the University of British Columbia have a lot of time on their hands. Or maybe it’s just a Canadian thing. Look! They have one that was definitely designed …


21 March 2008

An appropriate situation for “ROTFL”

Okay, I don’t usually talk about the whole evolution/creationism thing, but this post on Pharyngula is just about the funniest thing I’ve seen all week. I had to share.