Hey, Earth Scientists! Share Your Predictions of What Won’t Happen in 2017

Whilst I was soliciting ideas for blog posts, Anne Jefferson came up with an excellent topic:

It’s New Years – make predictions for what geology things WON’T happen in 2017. The magnetic pole won’t flip. Yellowstone won’t erupt. There won’t be record high Arctic sea ice. Scientists won’t suddenly admit that climate change is a Chinese hoax.

This topic is marvelous. I love it. But I don’t want to do the predicting alone: I want to hear your prognostications, too!

Here are a few of my predictions for 2017: Continue reading “Hey, Earth Scientists! Share Your Predictions of What Won’t Happen in 2017”

Hey, Earth Scientists! Share Your Predictions of What Won’t Happen in 2017
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What’s New at Rosetta Stones: Moon Geology, Flash Flood Survival, and More!

It’s been a busy week over at Rosetta Stones, since I neglected the poor thing all month. If you’ve been wanting some tasty geo to sink your teeth into, that’s the place!

Marvels and Mysteries of the Moon

With John Glenn’s passing earlier this month, my thoughts turned to space. People don’t think of the stars when they think of geology – I mean, it’s all about Earth, right there in the name. But the earth is made of star stuff. And the way gravity works, it turns that star stuff into rocky little worlds all over the universe, perfectly suited for our good science of rock-breaking. Geology isn’t limited to the planet it was born on and named for. And we can take it all over space and time.

One of the first places we took it was our own moon. John Glenn is among the people who got us there: without his pioneering flight, without the early successes of astronauts like him (not to mention the legion of scientists, engineers, and computing women behind him), there would have been no Moon landing.

We got there. We grabbed some rocks. We made some nifty discoveries. And believe me, green cheese might be a pretty tasty substance, but it’s nowhere near as delicious as the things the moon is actually made of.

Instant Peril: Flash Floods (and How to Survive Them)

The eleven European tourists exploring Antelope Canyon on a fine summer day in 1997 probably never considered drowning in a desert slot canyon to be a possibility. They may have known that water carved those sandstone walls into fantastical curves and angles. But it wouldn’t have seemed like an ongoing process. Why would anyone be thinking of water, standing on dry sand, with shafts of sunlight spearing through from the narrow opening above? Despite it being the height of the Arizona monsoon season, it wasn’t raining.

It started with the sandy silt on the canyon floor leaping six inches into the air. Tour guide Pancho Quintana and his group heard a roar so loud it drowned out screams. The solid rock walls shook. They began running, trying to find a place to climb out. And then they were hit by a wall of water that filled the canyon to a depth of eleven feet. Bodies were thrown into the walls. People might find a grip for a few seconds before debris or other bodies hit them and tore them away, tumbling them down the canyon. Pancho was the lucky one: despite the water and rock tearing off his clothes and skin, he managed to get a foot wedged in a crevice. The rest of the people with him, his tour group and another, were swept out of the canyon and into Lake Powell. Some of their bodies have never been found.

How? How could water suddenly appear from nowhere and end almost a dozen lives in a few minutes?

Troubling Signs for Science under Trump

We’re getting a clearer picture of how science in America will be treated under Trump. It’s horrifying. Our scientific endeavors are under severe threat, as is our environment. Scientists and those who support science have every reason to be concerned about the next several years.

Here’s a small taste of what we’re dealing with under Trump.

The Astonishing Climate-Changing Power of Plate Tectonics

Oh, how I struggled with this particular Accretionary Wedge topic:

What geological concept or idea did you hear about that you had no notion of before (and likely surprised you in some way).

I mean, there’s a lot. All the hijinks that go on in subduction zones constantly astonish me. The idea that rocks in the mantle flow without being actually molten, and that rocks have any sort of elasticity to begin with – I found that incredible. I had no idea when I first started studying geology just what temperature and pressure could do to minerals. I mean, I knew there was such a thing as a metamorphic rock, but my eyes popped when I learned more of the details. It seems like every time I read a book on geology, there’s something new and astonishing.  For instance: whilst reading a book about caves for a bit of the world I’m building, I found out there are places in the world with natural caves formed in salt. I had no idea that happened.

So yes, I’m spoiled for choice.  But I think the one thing that’s made my eyes pop the most is the idea that plate tectonics affects climate.

What’s New at Rosetta Stones: Moon Geology, Flash Flood Survival, and More!

(Repost) Adventures in ACE XI: Tommyrot About Topography

We are, at last, almost at the end of the breathtaking inanity that is ACE Science* PACE 1086. So far, we’ve seen a really inept drilling project, watched them mutilate Mount St. Helens and other volcanoes, suffered through their igneous ignorance, had to spend two posts on their sedimentary nonsense, and dealt with their metamorphic misconceptions. At times, it’s seemed like we’ll never get through debunking this unfathomable ignorance. But we’ve only eight pages and two topics to go! Racer and his dad are finally flying home! Stick with us and we’ll get there – if the Loyaltons’ plane doesn’t crash. Continue reading “(Repost) Adventures in ACE XI: Tommyrot About Topography”

(Repost) Adventures in ACE XI: Tommyrot About Topography

Protected: (Tier 1) Adventures in Christianist Earth Science Education XLI: Wherein There is Ungodly Static

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Protected: (Tier 1) Adventures in Christianist Earth Science Education XLI: Wherein There is Ungodly Static

(Updated) Trump’s Presidency Will Be a Disaster for Public Education

I didn’t post to Rosetta Stones for most of November because America’s election of the least qualified president in our history has me scrambling to assess and mitigate the damage. Much of what he’s done so far doesn’t yet touch on geology, which is what that blog is mainly concerned with – but we will be talking about the threat to our national parks, and there will doubtless be impacts on the USGS and other agencies responsible for essential geological services like volcano monitoring, seismic studies, and similar, which we’ll address.

Trump is already showing which direction he’s taking the country’s public education. If you care about kids being taught science, you’d best gird yourself for a war, because we’re going to have to fight to preserve our children’s right to a strong STEM education.

To begin with, Trump’s Vice President, to whom he plans to delegate most of the actual presidential work, is an evolution-denying Christian extremist who wants creationism taught in public schools. He’s also brought all his political power to bear on overturning the will of Indiana voters while he pushes for expansions of school vouchers and charter schools.

Trump also plans to slash NASA’s earth science division, which would not only cripple our nation’s climate change research, but also have a terrible impact on earth science research.

That rather sets the tenor for what’s to come.

But Pence is merely the beginning. It gets worse. Continue reading “(Updated) Trump’s Presidency Will Be a Disaster for Public Education”

(Updated) Trump’s Presidency Will Be a Disaster for Public Education

(Repost) Adventures in Christianist Earth Science Education V: Wherein We Map for God

Honestly, you’d think something as prosaic as mapping could avoid Godification. Science of the Physical Creation doesn’t even bother with a chapter on cartography: maps are maps, and they’ve nothing to say about them.

Earth Science 4th Edition, however, devotes a whole chapter to the subject. And yeah, it gets goddy.

Image is a pastel-colored hand-drawn map of Jerusalem from 1650. ZION is printed in the bottom center-right.
Yes, possibly even as goddy as the Thomas Fuller map of Jerusalem. Image courtesy Geographicus Rare Antique Maps via Wikimedia Commons.

The chapter starts out fine: instead of a creationist cartologist, we get a nice demonstration of the power of maps, using, of course, Dr. John Snow’s cholera map. And the BJU staffers who wrote this chapter, at least, aren’t completely anti-vax. They discuss how government agencies use maps to track down areas with high disease rates, and say that targeting vaccination programs toward “areas with high rates of infections” is “far more effective and costs less than vaccinating a whole population.” Which may be true with rare or not easily transmitted diseases, I suppose, but I do wish their emphasis had been on getting everyone vaccinated for the common stuff. Herd immunity is an important thing. Still. At least they’re not taking this opportunity to say never vaccinate. Small mercies.

They do a fine job explaining what maps are, and scale, and perspective. But for some reason, there’s a textbox on Progressive Creationism right smack in the middle. I have no idea why. It’s nothing to do with maps, and they don’t even try to relate it. They just yammer. And it’s obvious they don’t like those progressive creationists, no sir. You can tell from this question: Continue reading “(Repost) Adventures in Christianist Earth Science Education V: Wherein We Map for God”

(Repost) Adventures in Christianist Earth Science Education V: Wherein We Map for God

New at Rosetta Stones: Trump’s Disastrous Education Picks, and More!

Between Aunty Flow and trying to read up on Nazis, I’ve been a bit lax on blogging. But in case you missed them, here some spiffy recent Rosetta Stones posts for your reading pleasure: Continue reading “New at Rosetta Stones: Trump’s Disastrous Education Picks, and More!”

New at Rosetta Stones: Trump’s Disastrous Education Picks, and More!

New at Rosetta Stones: The Prettiest Rock

Tier 2 donors had an early look at our newest post, but now it’s here for everyone: the prettiest rock! Well, one of the prettiest rocks. There will be others, because seriously, with so many pretty rocks in the world, how do you choose the prettiest?!

Want to be among the first to see neat new geology posts like this, plus get a whole lot of other perks? Become a Tier 2 donor to En Tequila Es Verdad today!

New at Rosetta Stones: The Prettiest Rock

(Repost) Adventures in ACE X: Misinformed About Metamorphic

There comes a point when, during the perusal of an ACE Science PACE, the brain bluescreens. The system shuts down for self-protection. It’s usually at about the point where you’ve encountered the umpteenth wrong thing in as many sentences, and you begin wondering how any adult can be so bloody fucking ignorant. You suddenly realize that more than one bloody fucking ignorant adult was involved in writing this pablum. And you begin to consider that some of the children being subjected to this shit will never recover, but will someday regurgitate this shit with updated pictures and errors, then expect a whole new generation of kids to lap it up. This is about the point where the brain crashes.

It’s hard to get through without multiple system failures, is what I’m saying. Continue reading “(Repost) Adventures in ACE X: Misinformed About Metamorphic”

(Repost) Adventures in ACE X: Misinformed About Metamorphic