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4 May 2017

Passing Strange, by Martha Sandweiss

Clarence King was a legend. He led one of the four great surveys of the American west (along with Wheeler, Powell, and Hayden) and eventually convinced Congress to establish One Survey To Rule Them All, an institution that ended up being called the United States Geological Survey. King was its first director, but he didn’t last too long in that position before resigning so he could pursue his own mining …

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27 April 2017

1984, by George Orwell

My latest book review is of a cutting-edge new novel that describes our current political dystopia in excruciating detail…                                         Just kidding! Seriously: I was spurred to re-read Orwell”s 1984 after last November’s election, and the counterfactual customs of our new commander in chief. ‘Alternative facts’ have many precedents in history, but perhaps …

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25 April 2017

Hidden Figures, by Margot Lee Shetterly

I haven’t yet seen the blockbuster movie Hidden Figures, but I’ve heard great things about it. This post is about the book it’s based on, also called Hidden Figures, by Margot Lee Shetterly. It chronicles the work of numerous African-American women at NASA and its predecessor organization, NACA, through the middle of the last century. The book is a robust documentation of these women’s childhoods, educations, motivations, and lives. It …

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20 February 2017

Making “Kate Tectonics”

I recently discovered a terrific series of videos on YouTube called “Kate Tectonics.” Watch episode 2, “The History of Geology,” here, to get a taste of the series’ excellent production values and its hip, humorous style:   I asked one of the creators, namesake Katelyn Salem, to share a bit of information about the series: Who’s involved in the series? The credits seem lengthy! Can you give a bit of …

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20 January 2017

Friday fooled

It’s Friday, time for a … discussion of the role of misinformation in the modern media landscape and civil society? Yep, no fold this week, folks.
In honor of the Inauguration, it’s our first ever Friday Fooled.

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15 November 2016

Hate trumps love; Ideology trumps science

It’s been a week since Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton in the race for the President of the United States. I’ve been processing the news, and I’m not happy about it. I’ve been on “radio silence” for a week, mourning, ruminating, fretting. From my perspective, this is one of the most disturbing developments in the history of my country since the Civil War, since the McCarthy hearings, and since the …

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8 November 2016

Funzie

Funzie Bay in eastern Fetlar, Shetland, is the place with a stretched-pebble metaconglomerate that triggered the development of the Flinn Diagram. Join Callan on a pilgrimage of structural geology to this special place.

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3 September 2016

Viewing the Sea Point migmatite through the lens of GigaPan

It was five years ago when I first visited Sea Point, the outcrop on the coast of the Cape Peninsula where the Cape Granite (~540 Ma) intrudes the (meta-)sedimentary rocks of the Malmesbury Group. The outcrop is (a) beautiful and evocative, and (b) of historical importance, as Charles Darwin visited it while on the voyage of the Beagle, contemplating and confirming Lyell’s assertions of the validity of plutonism as he …

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25 April 2016

The Floating Egg, by Roger Osborne

A quick report today on a delightful book – The Floating Egg: Episodes in the Making of Geology, by Roger Osborne. It’s a collection of pieces, some only a few sentences long, others full essays, and still others short stories that fictionalize real life events. The range of styles is extensive, but what unites them all is geology in coastal Yorkshire, England. It’s a fascinating tour. The title may seem …

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2 March 2016

The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt’s New World, by Andrea Wulf

This is the second Andrea Wulf book I’ve read in the past month. It’s a biography of a great naturalist and popularizer of science and travel writing, who at the same time is largely forgotten in the modern English speaking world. Alexander von Humboldt’s intellectual impact is vast, Wulf argues, leading to everything from Darwin’s wanderlust (and thus, to the observations that led to the idea of descent with modification …

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