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28 December 2013

Lol My Thesis

After seeing “” come through my Twitter feed twice in one day, I knew this was a site I had to check out.  The website is very simple, “summing up years of work in one sentence.”  The About page states that the site was started by an undergraduate student looking for a way to distract herself from her own thesis.  The site contains a collection of one-sentence summaries from undergraduate …


16 December 2013

More than your (past) employer may see what you post on Twitter

This is great: this pub just fired the head chef but forgot he was running their twitter: — James Bloodworth (@J_Bloodworth) December 16, 2013 As a personal rule, I do not follow any of my students on Twitter (even if current students follow me), unless they are doing undergraduate research projects with me (I find Twitter a great way to connect with them, especially when we are at conferences, …


25 November 2013

Is a parody copyright infringement or fair use?

Trending these days is the GoldieBlox video, a clever video with three young girls that set up their own Rube Goldberg machine, showing that girls are just as smart and clever with innovative design and curiosity.  And the background music is just a clever, a re-do of the Beastie Boys song “Girls,” recorded with younger voices and new girl-friendly lyrics. GoldieBox video (unfortunately, the original video has been taken down …


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:


17 January 2013

The Up-Goer Five text editor – explaining my geoscience research

Although it’s a crazy-busy day today, I couldn’t resist taking this challenge that came across my Twitter feed! For the full explanation, please visit the Highly Allochthonous blog posting on Explaining geoscience using only the 10 hundred most common words….


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:


26 September 2011

Tweeting Haiku

This 2010 NPR story titled Haiku Takes To Twitter, 140 Characters At A Time and 2009 NPR story titled Twitterers Message by Haiku remind me of my own haiku/Twitter experience earlier this year. I even created a Storify about it,…


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 …