Earthrise: the Movie. Plus, Earth Day at Rosetta Stones

LRO Recreates Astronaut View of 'Earthrise'. Image Credit: NASA/GSFC

I’ve spent the majority of today spelunking NASA for nifty satellite images, then writing up an Earth Day post for Rosetta Stones. Whilst looking for inspiring images of Earth, I discovered NASA did a video for Earthrise.

Delights like this make me immensely glad to be alive at this time, in this place.

Earthrise: the Movie. Plus, Earth Day at Rosetta Stones

Sunday Song: Scandinavian Black

Lockwood found this simply awesome map of metal. I knew, from the instant I saw his tweet, what it was mapping.

[blackbirdpie url=”!/lockwooddewitt/status/189451342291533826″]

The majority of my favorite metal comes from the Scandinavian countries. So, of course, all I have to see in proximity are the words “heavy metal” and “Scandinavia” and I’m happily singing in the dark.

Right. So the article says Finland leads. Let’s have some Finnish metal, then, shall we? Dear fuck, this is hard – lots of my favorites hail from Helsinki or, y’know, other Finnish cities. But I think we’ll go with Nightwish this time round, as they’ve been a favorite for years. Until Tarja left, anyway.

Continue reading “Sunday Song: Scandinavian Black”

Sunday Song: Scandinavian Black

The Doctor

Okay, people, this is cool beyond words. Not only has my cherished friend Evelyn Mervine become Doctor Evelyn Mervine, she’s regenerated her Geology Word of the Week. And what’s the first word she chose?


Dude. Doctor. Time. She’s an honorary Time Lord, and with apologies to Doctor Who, she’s way cooler (although I love the show dearly, mind you, and always will). The following, I think, demonstrates why I have an inordinate fondness for calling her The Doctor:

Continue reading “The Doctor”

The Doctor

Atheism for Believers: Do We Need a Book?

Some interesting comments on JT’s “Happy Ask an Atheist Day!” post got me to pondering that question. Do we need a book about atheism which we can comfortably hand to believers?

I’ve not really thought about it before. I’ve got close friends who are believers, but I’ve never felt uncomfortable recommending books like The God Delusion to them when they express interest in learning more about atheism. The conversations we’ve had haven’t swerved into completely uncomfortable directions, like the whole “But you’re going to hell!” trope. We’ve had sticking points, and we’ve had to talk things over, but they’re strong people who can handle strong ideas. Their faith doesn’t leave them flummoxed when confronted by the fact that someone they love is godless.

Continue reading “Atheism for Believers: Do We Need a Book?”

Atheism for Believers: Do We Need a Book?

Weapons-Grade Cute: The Ultimate

This is it. There is no fighting back against something like this. Skirmishes may continue, but the war is over.


Sleeping clouded leopard cub being tickled. That quivering spotted tummy, that twitching leg! It’s over.

Well, barring the celebratory drug-fest, anyway (pump up the volume).

This is why working with Starspider is so hazardous. She finds these things and sends them to me, and I’m either a pile of goo or laughing too hard to answer the phone with a straight voice afterward.

My supervisor is not immune. We sent her this one.

Poor woman. The things she puts up with from us…

Weapons-Grade Cute: The Ultimate

No Outing is Complete Without Geology, Featuring the Coolest Trilobite Ever

So, you remember how I mentioned Heritage Park is within walking distance of downtown Kirkland? There’s one thing certain to happen when I’m within walking distance of downtown Kirkland: I’ll end up pulled in to Earthlight Gems and Minerals like a planet that’s passed the event horizon of a very large black hole. “You have enough rocks,” I tell myself sternly as my feet turn in that direction. “It’s more fun to find your own in the field,” I protest as I pick up speed. “You’re only going to look this time!” I holler as I’m drawn inexorably in the door.


It wasn’t so bad this time. I went in with a very small wishlist: I’d pick up a piece of corundum if they had an inexpensive one, because after writing “The Real Heart of the Ocean,” I really kinda wanted a bit of my own. And guess what they had?


Mah very own corundum!

Exactly what I wanted: uncut, unpolished, about as raw as it gets. But utterly beautiful. I mean, look at it from this angle:

Continue reading “No Outing is Complete Without Geology, Featuring the Coolest Trilobite Ever”

No Outing is Complete Without Geology, Featuring the Coolest Trilobite Ever

Mystery Flora: Las Princesas

The wildflowers haven’t really popped yet, but the domesticated ones certainly have. We’ve got trees putting on spectacular shows all over the city. When I headed down to Kirkland after visiting North Creek Park, driving the city streets was an exercise in enchantment. Kirkland’s beautiful anyway, but with tulips and daffodils and great big flowering trees lining the roads, it’s utterly gorgeous right now.

These mystery trees are particular favorites of mine. They seem to come in both white and pink, and the enormous blooms are spectacular. They make me feel like I’m in some fairytale setting.

Mystery Flower I

Ya’ll know these mystery flora posts are just an excuse for me to post pretty pictures, right? I thought so. Also, it’s a bragging right: I tell people all the time that my readers are up to any challenge and have a fine aesthetic sense. I like bragging about you guys. I also like taking pictures of flowers. I’m happy these two interests coincide so beautifully.

Speaking of beautiful:

Continue reading “Mystery Flora: Las Princesas”

Mystery Flora: Las Princesas

Unidentified Flying Dinosaur: LBB Wetlands Edition

This is the effect you’ve had: when I decided, rather spur-of-the-moment, that I should take Saturday off and go play in the sun for a while, but didn’t want to go far from home, I didn’t go looking for geology. That’s mostly because I know that the areas within a few miles of the house are all about glacial landforms utterly covered in vegetation. So I opted for birds instead. I began the day bound and determined to add to my paltry collection of UFD photos. My readers want UFDs; UFDs they shall have.

So I looked for local parks on the map, and chose North Creek Park, because while the scenery isn’t spectacular, it’s got birds. Also, I plan to do up a piece on wetlands someday. And it’s close.

What happens when I get there, anticipating lots and lots of birds? Bupkis. Oh, I could hear the little fuckers. The air was veritably filled with birdsong. But the bastards were hiding in the bushes. I despaired.

And then came the magical moment when I walked the floating boardwalk toward the Peat Bog Pond, and there, in the middle of the walk, was a Little Brown Bird.


Just a wee little thing, pecking away at the wood. I would’ve jumped for joy if I hadn’t been so terrified of frightening it away.

Continue reading “Unidentified Flying Dinosaur: LBB Wetlands Edition”

Unidentified Flying Dinosaur: LBB Wetlands Edition

Um… Happy Anniversary, Titanic?

Just before midnight on April 14th, 1912, the Titanic hit an iceberg. Yes, this really happened. No, it wasn’t just James Cameron making shit up. I thought I should state that for the record, because it seems some folks these days aren’t aware of that fact. I know you already know this, my darlings, but in case you encounter someone who doesn’t realize the Titanic actually existed, and in fact still does, only at the bottom of the sea, you can point them this way for some loving correction and some science. Also, a book recommendation: A Night to Remember is a great book on the disaster. I read it when I was still in single digits and never forgot it. The author did a magnificent job bringing the whole sad story to life.

So that’s one purpose of this post: to ensure that, on the anniversary of its sinking (it broke up and went under just after two on the morning of the 15th), in case there are any lingering doubts, the fact is stated: Yes, Virginia, there was a Titanic. 1,517 people died aboard it. And it’s important to remember what happened and why, because those folks didn’t have to die. We learn from disasters like this, even ones that are a century old.

But it’s not just about hubris and the necessity of safety regulations that mandate things like enough lifeboats for all souls onboard, although those things are critically important. The 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic is also a prime excuse opportunity to explore some truly fascinating science, which is the second reason for this post.

You already know about my post, “The Real Heart of the Ocean,” which explores the geology of the necklace that inspired that monstrosity lovely piece worn by Kate Winslet in the movie. Of course you do. And you’ve read it, right? Right?

But you may not have read David Bressan’s post on the iceberg that took down an ocean liner. That’s right, my darlings: two posts on geology related to the Titanic! And you knew we weren’t going to neglect the iceberg. Of course not.

Iceberg photographed on April 15th, 1912. It's an iceberg, possibly the iceberg. For more info, see David's post, which I filched this from.

And there’s more science where that comes from: a whole page on Scientific American dedicated to the science of the Titanic, complete with contemporary articles from the archives.

It doesn’t feel right saying “Happy anniversary!” But taking this moment to remember those who lost their lives and those who survived does. And the science of the Titanic is fascinating. There’s a lot more to the story than the movie could portray. If just one person who saw the 3D release lands here looking for more information and leaves with a whole new appreciation for science (and safety regulations), I’ll be well pleased.

Um… Happy Anniversary, Titanic?

Sunday Song: Magna Canta

Right, I don’t care if you hate this song our not. If you do, just turn the sound off and put the video on full screen anyway, because the video flies over some spectacular geology and it’s well worth seeing just for that.

Still drooling.

I quite like Magna Canta. I’m something of a sucker for that electronica/Benedictine/like Enigma only better sort o’ thing. This song hasn’t got a video with lots of delicious geology, but it’s one of their best songs, so why the hell not?

Continue reading “Sunday Song: Magna Canta”

Sunday Song: Magna Canta