Friday, December 22, 2006

Luke-warm lava

Today, after a couple of false starts, I managed to finally reduce some data that’s been hanging over my head for a few months. I generally don’t do much data reduction or interpretation- I get people set up and collecting, and leave the minor step of interpretation up to them. It is only the really strange, unusual, or perverse projects that get kicked down the chain of command into my lap. Luckily, this was a project that actually interests me, as opposed to the completely bizarre, esoteric stuff that sometimes comes up.

So, I finally finished my crunching, fed the geochemistry into a geothermometer to get a crystallization temperature, and scratched my chin over the answer. 90 degrees. Not 900 degrees, 90. The temperature of a cup of coffee. Trouble was, this was not a sugar crystal. So the implications were somewhat interesting.

Let’s just assume that both my measurements and the thermometer (calibrated for a completely different range) were correct. Imagine, if you will, what a world we would live in if magmatic temperatures were below the boiling point. Better yet, imagine a world in which volcanoes simply erupted coffee. Some key advantages:
-Hawaiians would be more edgy, less laid back.
-The people of Martinique would still be alive today, as the 1902 eruption would have simply covered St. Pierre in a dollop of foamy milk, instead of destroying the city with a nuée ardente.
-The mud pots of New Zealand and Yellowstone wouldn’t need a separate coffee store.
-Seattle could still be the retail coffee capital of the world.
-My data might actually make sense.

This might seem like a bit of a stretch, but remember, it is the season of forgiveness. Imagine a better world, a kinder world, where natural disasters are after-dinner beverages. The sugarplum fairies could transform the bushfire embers into snowflakes and candycanes. We could have joy for all, and peace on earth. And if you can’t imagine that for Christmas, then what future is there? A role in a Dr. Suess book? Or perhaps the life of a Dickensian mench, cruelly ignoring the crippling influence of ignorance and want. So Merry Christmas everyone, and have a happy New Year.

2 comments:

Lab Lemming said...

Bonus point:
The first lurking grad student who can explain how the subject of this post led to yesterday's Google post gets a friday beer on me after holidays...

Geek with Wings said...

"-Hawaiians would be more edgy, less laid back.
-The people of Martinique would still be alive today, as the 1902 eruption would have simply covered St. Pierre in a dollop of foamy milk, instead of destroying the city with a nuée ardente.
-The mud pots of New Zealand and Yellowstone wouldn’t need a separate coffee store.
-Seattle could still be the retail coffee capital of the world.
-My data might actually make sense."

And I just spewed some coffee myself upon reading that. And my boss likely just caught on that I am not working, unless he thinks the contour map I am making is very funny (and likely some will).