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8 May 2019
Rising: Dispatches from the New American Shore, by Elizabeth Rush
A book review of one of the runners-up for this year’s Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction: Elizabeth Rush’s chronicle of modern sea level rise.
15 February 2018
Other Minds, by Peter Godfrey-Smith
The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness is the subtitle of this fascinating, extremely approachable book. Paraphrasing Thomas Nagle, it asks “What is it like to be an octopus?” The author is a philosopher by training, but he does a fantastic job as a science writer, too. Anecdotes about encounters with cephalopods while diving are mixed with careful, deliberate, dejargonized descriptions of the scientific studies that have …
3 May 2016
Soundings, by Hali Felt
The Heezen and Tharp (1977) World Ocean Floor Panorama is an amazing map – an ideal amalgam of science and art. It is the result of a collaboration between Bruce Heezen and Marie Tharp, in conjunction with artist Heinrich Berann, made a beautiful map that brought a state-of-the-art-as-of-1978 understanding of the seafloor immediately into the minds of whoever gazed upon the map. It’s a work of art, a paragon of …
29 October 2013
Sailing Alone Around the World, by Joshua Slocum
One thing I got out of reading (listening to) Atlantic, by Simon Winchester, was a recommendation to read a classic story of adventure: Joshua Slocum’s Sailing Alone Around the World. As you might suspect, it’s an account of Slocum’s solo trip sailing his small boat, the Spray, around the world. He was the first person to accomplish this feat. The book, I was delighted to find, is in the public …
22 October 2013
Atlantic, by Simon Winchester
I finished Simon Winchester’s book Atlantic the other day. I consumed the audiobook version (this is one major positive aspect to my long commute: plenty of listening time), which was pleasantly read by Winchester himself. He’s got a good accent and a nice way of speaking – I recommend that medium. Atlantic is a book about the Atlantic Ocean. It’s set up to cover the vast sweep of Atlantic history, …
27 October 2012
Salt crystals in a tidal pool, Hermanus
Last winter, around 10 months ago, Lily and I were walking along the shore of Hermanus, South Africa, when I saw a little closed-drainage pool in the sandstone, harboring a briny distillation of the South Atlantic Ocean. Neat salt “rim” on the edge of the pool… Also note the ~cubic crystals at the bottom of the pool. Super, eh? Supersaturated….
28 January 2011
Friday fold: Mavericks
The Friday fold is a series of strata underwater near California’s famed “Mavericks” surf break.
6 April 2010
Suess effect II: corals sing an isotopic song
Almost a year ago, on my old blog, I brought up the issue of the Suess effect. Go read that post if you don’t remember what the Suess effect is. If you want an executive summary, digest this: The burning of low-14C fossil fuels (because the fuels are old and the 14C has all decayed), lowers the total atmospheric ratio of 14C relative to other isotopes of carbon. The carbon …