Friday, December 27, 2013
Monday, December 16, 2013
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Thursday, December 05, 2013
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
Posted by Chuck Magee at 7:39 AM
Sunday, November 24, 2013
Thursday, November 14, 2013
Posted by Chuck Magee at 5:56 AM
Saturday, October 26, 2013
Now if you'll excuse me, I need to chase some kids off my psilphytopsid lawn...
Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Sunday, October 20, 2013
I realize that for the last few years, this blog has been sputtering along with a low level of volume and quality. I can offer neither explanation nor remediation at this stage. But I have listed a few of my old favorites below, for anyone looking for straightforward explanations of how geology explains, among other things, sex, drugs, and Rock and Roll.
Phase Equilibria of Pie Crust
Thermodynamics of Hot Chicks
Geologic Lifespan of Jon Bon Jovi
Stars get Lonely Too
Testing the Earthquake-Modesty Connection
Posted by Chuck Magee at 11:56 PM
In "The best book you've never read", I mentioned that Author Harry Connolly, fantastic Urban fantasy "Circle of Enemies", which was an amazing novel that hardly anyone has managed to get a hold of. It turns out that the Author is launching his next series on Kickstarter. The appeal finishes tomorrow, but anyone interested in getting in on this can still do so, if you read this blog post in the next 12 hours.
Friday, October 11, 2013
Thursday, October 10, 2013
So the government has been shut down for over a week now. What does this mean? NASA is shut down. If you want to learn about the International Space Station, you'll need to learn Russian. The USGS is mostly shut down, except for hazards programs that are on skeleton staffs. On the other hand, the spy agencies are operating as normal. Taxes are still being collected. And you can still register as a congressional lobbyist. So all the unpleasant aspects of government are still business as usual. I guess that's what essential means. The main people suffering are those off work, and small business owners and employees and their suppliers. See the Riprarian Rap to see how non-federal employees get screwed because contracts and grants get delayed or cancelled.
Sunday, October 06, 2013
I have been flying home from Korea via SE asia the last couple of days, and reading a few local newspapers. What is happening here is that while the US Government remains shut down, the premier and PM of China have been engaging on a major goodwill tour, offering things like a billion dollars towards a new monorail project in Indonesia, or 40 billion dollars in increased trade with Malaysia over the next four years. In contrast, the US has cancelled the Presidents trip, sending John Kerry in his place.
The local take on this, from the Persian Gulf to Japan and everywhere in between, is that it makes America look weak and unreliable, and that it is a serious blow to the new "Asian Pivot" strategy. China's rivals are worried that this inability of America to project soft power will tip the regional balance too far in China's favor. Whether the bickering factions in Washington are too myopic to see or too shortsighted to care is not entirely clear.
Saturday, October 05, 2013
Posted by Chuck Magee at 7:48 AM
Friday, October 04, 2013
Friday, September 20, 2013
Thursday, September 12, 2013
Saturday, August 31, 2013
Posted by Chuck Magee at 2:05 PM
Monday, August 12, 2013
My current job involves a fair amount of long haul air travel. This isn't great, but it does mean that I get to read a bit more than I used to. I generally chew through a paperpack per long haul flight. So I've knocked off the usual suspects- Hunger games, Game of Thrones, various offerings, cultural and otherwise, from the late Iain M. Banks. But I've also been lucky enough to catch some lesser known books.
The Woodenman series by Harry Connolly is a prime example. A rare example of navel-gazeless urban fantasy, these books combine the velocity of a page-turning action story with the twists and turns of a whodunnit against the backdrop of unimaginable Lovecraftian horror. Refreshingly free of pretense and unapologetically relentless in their depiction of the corruption of power, the series balances accessibility and heft with style. The final book in the series is particularly gripping and poignant. But just as Ray, the protagonist, is relentlessly drawn into battles between forces crueler and greater than himself, so went the books themselves. "Circle of Enemies" was released just as the bookselling giant Borders was demolished, and failed to sell enough copies to extend the series. Which makes is a very good book with a tiny circulation- a rare treasure in the ponderous landscape of pulp.
Ironically, though the loss of a bookstore chain doomed this story, its ghost lives on in the purgatory of the online retailer that slew it. The e-books can still be conjured up via the internet, and even some paperbacks seem to still be in stock.
I'm don't know if the novelist will be publishing anything else- for all I know he's just a well constructed pseudonym of J. K. Rowling- but I hope he gets another chance, as his first three books were quite enjoyable.
Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Since the end of WW II, English has been the dominant language of science. This was not always the case. The late 19th century industrial and scientific explosion in Germany made German a potential contender before geopolitical events depopulated Germany of its scientists. And earlier in the 19th century French, and originally Latin, were the languages of the day.
The reasons for this are simple. England has long been a leader in scientific inquiry, and the post-war assimilation of European scientists by the USA and subsequent technological revolution there during the space race and information revolution has kept English on the forefront.
None-the-less, many scientists do still publish in their native languages. And even when they do publish in English, there are many Journals, such as the Journal of South American
Geology Earth Sciences, which offer abstracts in other languages, such as Portuguese and Spanish, the dominant languages of that continent. Similarly, Geostandards and Geoanalytical Research publishes French Abstract, since is is based in France and published by a French research organisation.
None-the-less, I was surprised to see that the Australian Journal of Earth Sciences is now publishing abstracts in Chinese for its English articles. Australia is an English speaking country, and although there are small but locally important groups of immigrants who speak various Chinese languages, they are not over-represented in the Earth Sciences. And while Chinese geologists compete internationally better than their scientists on other fields, and Chinese investment is important in the Australian mineral export industry, it is still a bold move by the AJES editors to pick Chinese as the next language of science.
p.s. If you can't read the title, check that your operating system has Asian characters enabled.
Thursday, May 16, 2013
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
In my meandering career from academia to government to private sector, and back into all the grey areas in between, I've been an author on a few journal articles, government reports, and other publications. Usually, these are collaborations between groups of separated people, not all of whom interact with every other member of the team. For example, in the academic literature, I have a total of 21 co-authors, of whom I have met 9. If we include government reports as well as papers, then I have 42 co-authors, of whom I have met 17. I find it interesting that this ratio is so similar between the two types of reporting (about 40%). So I was wondering: for those of you who read this blog and publish, is your ratio about the same?
Tuesday, May 07, 2013
Thursday, May 02, 2013
Friday, April 05, 2013
In the aftermath of the
Figure 1. An illustration for how the deflection needed to make an asteroid miss can be used to make many more hit.
Friday, March 22, 2013
Figure 1. SHRIMP mass spectrum of atomic and molecular peaks at mass 56 in San Carlos Olivine (Mg2SiO4 with Fe and Ca substituting for Mg). Green and purple: nominal M/dM = 5000; orange and blue: nominal M/DM = 15000; green and orange: Faraday cup; blue and purple, electron multiplier.
Posted by Chuck Magee at 12:16 AM
Sunday, March 17, 2013
Friday, February 22, 2013
Star Trek III
Chelyabinsk Friday morning:
Friday, January 18, 2013
I build huge cans of learning named after a small pink water animal with lots of legs. The can of learning fires the tiniest bits of air, hurried up by a field, at rocks to break them into the tiniest bits of matter. We suck all of the air out of the box, leaving only empty space. That way the bits of the rock don't hit bits of air that are in the way.Brief: Explain your technical job using only the 1000 most common words #upgoerfive
Another field sucks these bits off of the face of the rock, and into a big box filled with empty space and more fields. The fields in the box sort the bits by exactly how heavy they are. The force that holds the bits together makes them a little bit lighter, so knowing exactly how heavy they are lets us tell tiny bits holding on to each other from single other tiny bits that are slightly lighter or heavier.
The very heavy bits are actually too big to hold themselves together. So they fall into pieces over time. We look at how many pieces there are. This tells us the age of the rock.
People wonder how old rocks are. My business builds cans of learning to tell them.
Thanks to Anne and Chris for the brief.