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You are browsing the archive for April 2019 - Mountain Beltway.

26 April 2019

Friday fold: Black Sands Beach

The Friday fold can be found in a boulder of gray chert layers on Black Sands Beach, at Marin Headlands in California.

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25 April 2019

How We Got To Now, by Steven Johnson

I was very impressed with Steven Johnson’s The Invention of Air when I read it last summer. So recently, I decided to sample another of his books, this one a six-part microhistory about innovations that altered the course of human history. The six are: 1) cleanliness/hygiene (specifically in medicine and drinking water), 2) measurement of time, 3) glass (think lenses!), 4) understanding of light, 5) refrigeration, and 6) the recording …

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24 April 2019

Venomous, by Christie Wilcox

Here’s a fascinating book that combines biology and chemistry with human health and ecological consciousness. Venomous: How Earth’s Deadliest Creatures Mastered Biochemistry is Christie Wilcox’s masterful account of all things that inject toxins into other creatures. The book covers how those toxins are produced, how evolution has modified them, how they get injected and what happens then. Caterpillars and playpuses, jellyfish and ants and octopuses, sea urchins and shrews and …

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19 April 2019

Friday fold: Angel Island “III”

For the third Friday in a row, “Mountain Beltway” features folds from Angel Island, in northern San Francisco Bay, California, This time, it’s meta-cherts on Perles Beach, showing impressive metamorphic recrystallization reactions.

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17 April 2019

The Dragon Behind the Glass, by Emily Voigt

A whole book about aquarium fish? Yes, it’s possible, when the fish is the Asian arowana. The subtitle of Emily Voigt’s The Dragon Behind the Glass is “A True Story of Power, Obsession, and the World’s Most Coveted Fish.” The arowana is a fish that can be found in the Amazon (sometimes called the ‘water monkey’ there for its habit of jumping out of the water) but another species can …

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15 April 2019

The Feather Thief, by Kirk Wallace Johnson

In 2009, a thief broke into England’s Tring Museum and stole hundreds of curated bird skins. The thief was a talented American musician attending school in London. He broke apart specimens collected by Alfred Russel Wallace and Lionel Walter Rothschild and sold the feathers to men who tie salmon flies (originally for fishing, but now an art form in its own right). The story of this crime is well documented by an author who became obsessed with solving the case of the missing birds.

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12 April 2019

Friday fold: Angel Island “II”

Happy Friday, all. Here are a few shots of crinkled, thin, multicolored cherts from Kayak Beach on northern Angel Island, California, piggybacking on the folds I showed you last week.

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5 April 2019

Friday fold: Angel Island “I”

The Friday fold is on the north shore of Angel Island, San Francisco Bay, showing blueschist-facies high-contrast metalliferous cherts with folds on many scales.

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3 April 2019

Squid Empire: The Rise and Fall of the Cephalopods, by Danna Staaf

Here’s a cool little book about the paleobiology, ecology, and behavior of cephalopods: Squid Empire. The author, Danna Staaf, has a PhD in marine biology and –more importantly– a lifelong fascination with squid, octopuses, cuttlefish, and nautiloids. This work is a history of the cephalopod clade – going back into deep time, before the Cambrian Explosion, dwelling on ancestral forms and luxuriating in the ammonites (now sadly extinct — or …

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2 April 2019

Spying on Whales, by Nick Pyenson

A book by Nick Pyenson (of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History) details the past, present, and future of whales. Combining paleontology, oceanography, environmental awareness, evolution, and history with personal stories of field work and insight, it’s a compelling tale of modern science on charismatic, mysterious creatures.

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