Thursday, January 31, 2008

Summer Fun

Why blog when you can do this?

Monday, January 28, 2008

Accretionary Wedge 5 and 6

Late last week, the fifth and most recent installation of Accretionary Wedge was posted at Green Gabbro. The topic was Geologic mythconceptions. Go there to read about such foolish misunderstandings as: the mantle is molten, people sink in lava, or Ar/Ar is superior to U/Pb.

Next month’s plate scraping will occur here. The theme for Accretionary wedge number 6?

Things that make you go "hmmm."

I want to know what you want to know. What geological mystery intrigues you. What process or event in the history of terrestrial planets are you dying to find out?

This doesn’t have to be the focus of your research. It can be some big picture thang that nobody has any handle on (When did the inner core solidify? Whenever you wanted it to). It can be a broad question that is outside your field. Or it can be some tiny piece of minutiae that appeared to be totally trivial until somebody realized that it was crucially important for answering big questions.

Non-geologist lemming lab loungers are welcome to participate as well. Is there anything about this six billion billion billion gram peridot that you ever wanted to know? Have you heard of some Earth trivia that sounds impossible to scientifically prove? Do you own a grey, featureless rock that you’d like Chris from Highly Allochthonous to identify for you?

Post the targets of your curiosity on your own blog, and supply me with the link. Deadline is February 17 ± 2 (2 sigma, no decay constant error) of this (calendar) year.

Laser ICMPS Open thread

In my last entry, a New Zealand internet rabble rouser made a blatant attempt to hijack a fluffy politics of science thread with some nitty-gritty technical analytical questions. Then this afternoon, somebody from the Earth Environment group at the Australian National University read my entire 2007 archives. EE is the research unit responsible for running the ANU’s ICPMS lab, so it is conceivable that they were looking for some analytical alkali porn.

So, ladies and gentlemen, here is your open thread. Ask you questions about getting laser ICMPS systems to work in a reproducible and reliable manner. Background issues, interferences, sample-laser coupling, you name it. If I know, I’ll answer. Of course, I haven’t worked in a laser lab for 7 months, but it never hurts to stretch out the gray matter a bit, just for nostalgia’s sake.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Calling all AGU members

Andy Revkin at dot Earth recently posted the amended AGU statement on climate change on his blog. A obstructionist politician challenges the statement, saying that it was made by the union leadership without any support or knowledge by the membership. In response, Mr. Revkin asked any and all AGU members to stop by his blog and state their opinion on the matter. So here is the link. You get your comment put in bold, and if you are lucky, you might even get some linkage love from the New York Times.

Personally, I’ve never seen a blog with 10,000 comments before, so even if we can only get 20% of the membership to chip in, that would be something…

Sunglasses on Mercury

I was having an email chat with Emily at the Planetary Society blog about the spectral capabilities of the MESSENGER spacecraft yesterday. It turns out that she has an excellent summary of the camera system on that website. We were talking about filters and false color schemes. Evidently, one of her readers was wondering what Mercury would look like to an astronaut in orbit. It was basically a true color vs spectral recombination question. What we were wondering was whether or not that astronaut would be blinded by the glare from the much higher illumination. So here are some back-of-the-spreadsheet calculations, using 1500 w/m2 for earth insolation, and various orbital and albedo values from the web (mostly wikipedia).

Planetw/m2albedodistancereflected w/m2notes

Venus and Earth both have orbits that are almost circular, but Mercury is the most eccentric planet that hasn’t been cruelly demoted, so the insolation at perihelion is more than twice what it is at aphelion. As the table above shows, the fairly dark mercurial surface is slightly less bright than fresh Earthly snow when Mercury is farthest from the sun, but it is almost twice as bright when the planet is at its closest approach. So an astronaut could very easily go snowblind from looking at it. On the other hand, mountaineering goggles would be more than adequate when near apahelion. But the original question was about ‘true’ color. Sunglasses are rarely spectrally neutral, so as soon as they go on, true color disappears.

In fact, when we log drill cuttings in the desert, the time when sunnies go on in the morning and come off in the afternoon is noted, because it can change the reported rock color.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Flying with our baby

In November and December of last year, Mrs. Lemming and I did a lot of flying with LLLL. All up, we had 4 domestic USA flights, two domestic Australian flights, 2 trans-pacific flights and one trans-Tasman flight. Aircraft were 737, dash-8, and 747; flying times ranged from 45 minutes to 13 hours. The carriers were Southwest, QANTAS, and Alaska.

Overall, it was a lot less stressful than we expected it to be. LLLL cried a bit due to tiredness on some of the longer flights, but slept OK on most of them. When she was awake, she generally tried her hardest to make friends with the entire aircraft.

On the first Australian flight and the first trans-pacific flight, LLLL had a seatbelt coupler, that basically tied her to Mrs. Lemming’s seatbelt. Evidently these are illegal in the USA, and they were not available. We bought a aircraft-compatible car seat from a US internet site and had it shipped to friends in LA, so we used that for domestic USA flights.

We bought LLLL a seat for all of the flights. This was affordable mainly because Mrs. Lemming did the trans-Pacific on frequent fliers, and child seats were discounted on QANTAS and one of the two Southwest flights. Additionally, the weak US dollar made the domestic flights seem less expensive than they really were.

Mrs. Lemming and LLLL between Los Angeles and Phoenix
We generally gave ourselves an extra hour at all airports for check-in, so that we could get all of our junk through security and feed the baby before flying. In addition, LLLL usually got a breastfeed on takeoff for ear equalization purposes. No puritanical Americans gave Mrs. Lemming a hard time for this, so I didn’t have to dislocate anyone’s jaw.

We had sterilized (boiled) water in the baby bottle for making formula, if needed. The liquid ban meant that we had to dump this at 2 of the 4 US airports. Evidently, made-up formula is fine, but powder plus water isn’t. Many of the airlines offered to refrigerate our bottles if needed once we were on the plane, but we didn’t want to sit around waiting to board with made-up, room temperature formula for an hour or two, so we either did without or used plane water for formula.

Flying Sydney to LA, we used the 747’s bulkhead bassinet, which was OK when LLLL was asleep. Once awake, she didn’t like hanging out there much.

LLLL asleep in the bulkhead bassinet, over the central Pacific
The car seat took a bit of practice to install and uninstall the first few times, but once I got the hang of it the time and hassle was minor. We installed it rear facing in the US, but turned it around to front facing halfway across the pacific.

Both of the American carriers were helpful and supportive about car seat use. QANTAS, however, was difficult. Halfway across the Pacific, in the middle of the night, when most of the plane was asleep, the crew chief woke me to read me the riot act, her finger jabbing at the relevant paragraphs in her 2-inch-thick rule book. Evidently car seats were discouraged, and rear facing ones especially so. So the lovely hostess made me wake the baby up and turn the seat to forward facing. She then woke up the lady in the seat in front of the baby, just to make sure that her seat would fully recline without hitting the car seat, as that would violate the rules.

The Auckland to Melbourne leg was cool about it, but on the domestic Melbourne to Canberra flight they gave us shit about it not carrying an Australian government agency safety stamp. The seat was FAA approved, but we were no longer in FAA jurisdiction. They decided to grudgingly let it slide providing that we installed it front facing, which we did.

The LAX->PHX Southwest 737-300 did not have change tables in the lavatories, but every other plane and most of the airports had acceptable facilities. Flying to Phoenix, we just changed her on my seat.

We started out with an entire carry-on suitcase of extra outfits and rags for LLLL, as she like to chunder a lot. Fortunately, she was a lot less vomitous than we feared, so we checked the backup suitcase for most of the domestic US flights. We checked the stroller at check-in half the time, and at the gate for the longer flights. This was OK for everything but the LA-Auckland flight, where they unloaded at Auckland instead of sending it on to Melbourne (same plane, just refueled and reshuffled). I was not allowed to leave the car seat on the plane- we switched seats anyway.
LLLL and me surrounded by our stuff
QANTAS wasn’t able to figure out that we were supposed to be traveling together, since Mrs. Lemming was frequent flying and LLLL and I were not. Also we had to change seats on the first Alaska Air flight, as car seats are not allowed in the row before or after an exit row. In all cases, they eventually managed to get us seated together.

LLLL was mostly smiley and gurgley towards other passengers. None of them complained to us, and many flirted back. A pack of middle aged Chinese ladies on a package tour from Auckland to Melbourne took friendliness a little too far- one of them taking LLLL out of Mrs. Lemming’s arms for a photo shoot before she could object or react. LLLL was at the developmental stage where she could sit up, but not crawl. I reckon this is an ideal age for baby traveling. She was just starting solids at the time, so she mostly ate organic jarred food- lack of preparation facilities and rules against transporting fresh produce pretty much ruled everything else out.

Any questions?

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Rocky Planet Pie

Here is the inner solar system, with radii normalized and slices cut according to mass. The Sun is obviously not included. The moons of Mars and the asteroids combined would be less than a pixel wide, so they are omitted. The planets go in from Mars as you go clockwise from 12 o'clock; the Moon is between Earth and Venus. One thing I never realized until it was mentioned in seminar last year is that the Earth is just a little bit bigger than all the rest of the inner solar system put together.

All images are from NASA, taken between 1972 and 2008.

edit- ugly white border problem fixed.

Geological version of iTunes iChing

Yami has been befuddling me with iTunes iChing for quite some time now. Part of this is because she uses a diVination method that seems to be rooted (so to speak) in some sort of pre-enlightenment mystical mumbo-jumbo, and does not use proper geologic terms. Therefore, the first step towards making this system comprehensible is to translate the original names of the cards. As far as I can tell, the most direct translation is the one that follows:

  • Covering: Regolith
  • Crossing: Intrusions
  • Crown: Stratigraphy
  • Root: Basement
  • Past: Geochronology
  • Future: Modeling
  • Questioner: Investigator
  • House: Institution
  • Inside: Lab equipment
  • Outcome: Journal of publication

Let us test this diVination method. Obviously I don’t want to talk about my upcoming field season, but kids are always good fortune-telling material. So, Oh great and glorious iPod, what will my child surprise me with next?
  • Regolith: Nutcracker Act I,4 (presents of Drosselmeyer) (Tchaikovsky)
  • Intrusion: I’m a man (Yardbirds)
  • Stratigraphy: East Wes (Eric Johnson)
  • Basement: Happiness (Orson)
  • Geochronology: Heartful of Soul (Yardbirds)
  • Modeling: Marriage of Figaro Act III, Ecco la Marcia (Mozart)
  • Investigator: Best of Friends (Joan Baez)
  • Institution: I’ll take care of you (Dixie Chicks)
  • Lab: Boom Boom (Animals)
  • Journal: Ride across the River (Dire Straits)

Hmm. Dunno about this man and marriage thing. Looks like I might have to lock up my daughter early.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Rice via Twice

Twice has a link to a vocabulary quiz website, which donates all of its advertising revenue to the world food program. So now you can make the world a better place while goofing off on the web. I was hovering around the 40 mark yesterday until Mrs. Lemming walked in and started blasting words over my shoulder. We got up to 44 before getting hungry and fixing up some curry and... Yup. You guessed it.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

A planet full of WoGE

In celebration of the first anniversary of Where on (Google) Earth, I decided to have a quick look at the locations the geoblogospheroids have chosen for this highly successful quiz meme.

Below is a pie chart of the area of continents and major islands.

Compare this to the distribution of WoGE sites:

As you can see, Asia and Africa are under-represented, Antarctica is badly under-represented, while North America, Europe, and small islands are over-represented.

But there is more to geology than surface area. Below is the breakdown by tectonic regime (using the USGS plate boundary kmz file):

While “craton” here incorrectly includes the deforming interiors of several continents (Asia, Africa, North America), I’m still surprised that more sites weren’t close to active margins.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Women for President meme

There has been muttering in various parts of the internet about how some of the objections to Hillary Clinton's presidential bid might be sexist in nature. Although identifying bias in politics is less straightforward than in scientific publication, this hypothesis should be experimentally verifiable. In most elections, the people who actually run for office are generally not people's first choice. So for those who maintain that they have nothing against women presidents in general, but object to Senator Clinton in particular, I ask this question:
What women would you endorse for president, were they to enter the race tomorrow.
My short list:
Christine Todd Whitman
Olympia Snowe
Mary Jo White

I tag everyone who doesn't self-identify as a bigot.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

3,786 People killed in Chinese coal mines last year

According to the New York Times, the 2007 body count in the Chinese coal mining industry is 3,786. From what I can tell, this number only includes direct fatalities, and not deaths from chronic mining-related disease. It does not include people killed in generating station accidents, killed from respiratory ailments caused by pollution, or people killed anywhere outside of China. But the good news is that this is a 20% decrease from last year, meaning that in the past 2 years, about 8,500 people were killed in coal mine accidents. For comparison, the Chernobyl meltdown killed 56 people outright 22 years ago, and since then there has been another nuclear accident in Japan that killed three people. How the long term cancer risk associated with those accidents compares with coal-related chronic diseases is left as a research project for the reader.

Of course, uranium mining is not completely safe, either. In 2005, an explosion killed a 30 year old man at Olympic Dam.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Diamonds are not squished coal

Yami was asking about common geologic mythconceptions that piss us off, and the origin of diamonds is number one on my list. Diamonds are not former coal.

How do we know this? First, there is the chronology. Coal is the organic-rich remains of terrestrial plant matter, and this is younger than the oldest land plants, which are roughly 400 million years old. Pb isotope studies of diamonds show that they are generally between 2 and 2.8 billion years old, 5-7 times older than the oldest land plants. Thus diamonds were already collecting their pensions by the time the first coal beds were formed.

Secondly, they have different isotopic compositions. Plants, which fix CO2 via photosynthesis, contain 2% less 13C than the Earth’s mantle, while most diamonds have mantle carbon isotopic composition. The light isotopic composition of coal is due to the preferential uptake of 12C over 13C during photosynthesis. Diamonds, not being related to coal, never photosynthesized, and do not show this effect.

Thirdly, metamorphic minerals have very different textures than hydrothermal ones. Diamonds are thought to precipitate from a CO2 fluid when said fluid is reduced in the mantle. This allows big, low strain crystals to form. Solid state phase transitions generally involve lots of deformation and recrystallization. Were coal to be metamorphosed into diamond, it would probably form a diamond rock with micron-scale crystals. Impact diamonds have grainsizes that are micron to sub-micron, and the source of the carbon is difficult to determine. But they are tiny, and it is theoretically impossible for them to be more than a few carats (they need to be small enough to cool off before the shockwave dissipates, or they will revert to graphite).

Of course, it is theoretically possible to synthesize diamonds from coal in a lab. But this is unlikely to occur for several reasons. If the diamonds are being grown in a traditional metal catalyst belt apparatus, then a low sulphur carbon source should be used to prevent the nickel catalyst from being attacked. If coal was sulphur free, then trout in the Adirondacks would have nothing to complain about. In the case of Chemical Vapor Deposition diamond, a gaseous source- usually methane- is used. With either method, nitrogen from organic compounds in the coal would impart a yellow-green color in the diamond due to the absorption of the single N defect. So coal would be a poor source material for synthetic diamond production.

To summarize: Diamonds are too old to be squished coal, and even if they weren’t they contain the wrong sort of carbon and form through different processes. Furthermore, coal is a poor choice of precursor for synthetic diamond production, as spectroscopic graphite is best for metal catalyst diamonds, and methane is preferred for CVD. If you really wanted a diamond made from coal it could be done, but you might as well make diamonds from your dead granny and exhaust fumes.

RIP Hillary

Sir Edmund Hillary, the New Zealander who made the first ascent of Mt. Everest, died yesterday aged 88. There are tributes here, as we all as in any Australian, New Zealand, and Nepalese newspaper. What people who know of Hillary from trivia contests and NZ $5 notes may not also realize is that he followed up his ascent of Everest with a lifetime of service to the region, building bridges, airstrips, schools and hospitals. His climbing partner, Tenzing Norgay, died in 1986.

Friday, January 11, 2008

MESSENGER Mercury fly-by

In just under 4 days, the MESSNEGER spacecraft will fly past Mercury. It has been over 30 years since a Mercury mission, and over half the planet's surface remains unknown. There are plenty of updates on their home page. Emily at the Planetary Society blog has been posting regular updates.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Where on (Google) Earth #87

Having found Tuff's anticline in the last place I looked, I figured I'd put an easy one for the climate people up, in order to broaden our appeal.

You may post the location if you wish, but what I really want to know is the name of this feature, and why it is famous.

The Schott rule applies.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Deep time

So as I complete yet another orbit around this pleasant G class star, I find myself approaching not just a new year, but a new epoch. I don’t know if it should be called the late thirties or the lower thirties, but it is certainly a greyer tick of the clock. Trouble is, introspective and profound aren’t strengths of mine. So instead I’ll talk about geologic time, the scale of which might actually make me feel young again.

All the world's a stage,
And all arachnomorpha merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
A trilobite in time plays many parts,
His acts being seven periods…

The stage of the day is the Boomerangian. I came across this term reading some background stratigraphy, and had to look it up to make sure it wasn’t a joke. It struck me as the kind of name that someone might throw out there, only to have it come around and hit him in the ass. But lo! It exists, in the upper middle Cambrian. From 504 to 501 million years ago, the Boomerangian was the new Undillian. Evidently, it is still today famous for its agnostoids and a carbon isotopic excursion.

Alas, for all their evolutionary advancement and spiffy new cephalons, they didn’t see the late Cambrian coming till it had ground them into the calcarenite of history. They would be totally forgotten by time, had not James Ogg driven a golden stake through the heart of their final resting place half a billion years later.

So I’m off to celebrate my last night in the early thirties in style- maybe if I drink enough beer, I can make the contact uconformable. Where is my beer...?

Australia / India Cricket Brawl

For those of you who live under a rock, or get your news from the New York Times, the recent headline-dominating cricket melt-down is more or less summed up in the panel below:

WARNING! Obscene and racist words in caption.

I’m obviously inventing the provocation by filling in typical sledging vocabulary- only the players know exactly what was said last week. But the point is that cricket is no longer about batting and bowling. The purpose of the game is now to goad the opposing players into using proscribed language, so that you can have the umpire suspend them.

I recommend watching the tennis this month.

p.s. I hope they don’t revoke my visa for criticizing the Australian cricket team.

Edit: another blogger had determined what actually happened.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Geophysicists moderate neutrons

There was a brilliant article in last November’s EOS (The American Geophysical Union newsletter) that described an experiment that measured the moderation of cosmogenic neutrons by the attendees at the 2006 annual conference.

Neutron moderation is the decrease in kinetic energy of neutrons caused by the elastic collisions between the neutron and atomic nuclei. Because the collisions are elastic, the neutrons loose energy to light atoms much more easily than to heavy ones, so hydrogen is by for the most efficient moderator that naturally occurs in the geologic environment. The stated goal of the research project is to use cosmogenic neutron moderation to calculate soil moisture, snowpack, and other hydrologic purposes; the measurement of conference attendance was meant as a clever technology demonstration.

I honestly have no idea how cosmic rays generate neutrons in the first place. But the process generates fast neutrons, which are moderated until their kinetic energy is equal to that of the particles with which it is colliding. Since that energy is related to temperature, such neutrons are called ‘thermal neutrons’. These thermal neutrons typically travel much shorter distances before getting absorbed in a nuclear reaction (such as n + 14N -> p + 14C, the cosmogenic isotope of dating fame), compared to fast neutrons. Thus, increased moderation reduces the area of cosmogenic neutron production that is sampled by their neutron detector, lowering the count rate.

Desilets et al. placed their instrument in “a ground floor exhibit booth in the low-rent (far southwest) corner of Moscone Center West, which was optimally located between the afternoon beer cart and some restrooms.”

The main sources of hydrogen to use as a moderator in this location were the bodies fo the geoscientists attending the meeting, who the authors modeled as “

The corrected for changes in cosmic ray flux, magnetic field location, and elevation. They addressed the issues of neutron attenuation by the upper floors of the building and the potential moderation of neutrons produced by people on those floors, by modeling those distinguished researchers as, “an equivalent depth of water and bone spread across the upper floors.”

There results show a decrease in neutron flux while the conference was in session. This is “consistent with an increased presence of hydrogen in Moscone Center West, which we interpret to be mostly from conference attendees.” The flux recovered during the lunch break, before declining for the afternoon session as “high-fluid-content AGU conference attendees returned to the conference floor.”

Their estimate for the number of people on the ground floor during the sessions? About 1700.

Full article: Desilets D, Zreda M, Ferre T, 2007. Scientist Water Equivalent Measured with Cosmic Rays at 2006 AGU Fall Meeting. EOS 88, 48, 521-522.

Friday, January 04, 2008

John McCain for President

I actually had no idea that primaries had started until I say the results from Iowa this afternoon. And the year isn’t even a week old! I need to call the county clerk in the middle of the night tonight to figure out how to vote in this year’s primary next month- if, indeed, primaries allow absentee voting. I honestly don’t know.

The way I see it, an effective president needs to be able to do two things. First, he needs to have a strong enough vision to remember what he is trying to do amongst the turmoil of Washington. Secondly, he needs the political problem solving skills to accomplish those goals.

While I was back in the US, I watched a few of the debates. And came away with a couple of observations. Of the various candidates, only McCain, Giuliani, and Huckabee seemed to exhibit both of these factors. Romney seemed to be wheely and dealy enough to come to agreements, but he seemed very aimless in a John Kerry sort of way, and the fruitcake brigade did not demonstrate the pragmatism to actually accomplish anything.

As an aside, I would like to point out that Ron Paul happens to be my favorite flavor of fruitcake. He’s fun to listen to, and I’m glad he is in congress. But he would be a terrible president, as he exhibits none of the skills needed to successfully pass an agenda.

So. McCain, Giuliani, and Huckabee. Of the three, I think that McCain would send the country in the direction closest to the one in which I would like it to go. To be brief, Giuliani is a bit Jackbooty, and Huckabee’s a bit too preachy. As far as I know, McCain is the only candidate in any party- mainstream or fringe, who is both anti-surrender and anti-torture.

I also think that he would be the most effective of the three candidates at getting things done. He has a long track record of successfully making progress on important but unusual causes, such as normalization of relations with Vietnam and political corruption. And he is the only candidate with significant foreign policy experience.

As an expatriate, this is important. It seems hard to believe that when I first left America, most expats were republicans, and not ashamed of it. Things now aren’t quite as bad as they were in 2002-2003, when a Sydney barber fucked up my haircut the week before my wedding after I told him I was American, but I still get the feeling that people think we eat babies and destroy nations for kicks and giggles. I’m sick of apologizing of my nation- not to mention my political party- just because our president doesn’t understand the concept of adjusting to reality.

I admit that as am not as enthusiastic about McCain as I was in 2000. His campaign has been a bit of a mess. But then, we’ve had 16 years of Campaigners-in-Chief. So how about a president with a foreign policy track record instead of a teflon tongue?

Conservation doesn’t have to suck

With oil prices flirting with a hundred bucks a barrel, two geoblogospheroids have been flaunting their Priuses. Jim has even been scientific enough to show us his data, allowing us to see how his fuel economy has improved over the past year. When one of his students asked how the car is at speeding down the highway, he said that driving energetically misses the whole point.

This is a general cultural perception that conservation means forgoing all hoonic pleasures, that it requires a life of austerity and forbearance. Better to fry the planet than to freeze in the dark is one common objection to simple living. But the fact is, by being clever, one can actually conserve while still having a good time.

For example, here is the mileage graph for my PhDmobile:

My average mileage, 45.5 mpg, was only slightly worse than Jim’s. And this was back when hybrids were just a twinkle in Amory Lovins’ eye. But despite this miserly fuel consumption, my humble Honda could do 0-60 in around 5 seconds- greater acceleration than a Corvette of similar vintage.

So sporty handling and fuel efficiency are not necessarily incompatible. Just a bit of basic physics is needed. For example, I was able to achieve this excellent fuel efficiency because I had a 600cc engine- less than half the size of a Prius engine. And the reason that such a small engine could provide high acceleration is simple Newtonian physics. F=ma, and my vehicle only weighed 200 kg.

Furthermore, since I rode my bicycle to work, my total usage was fairly modest, at about 5000 km for both 1999 and 2000. Here is my internal combustion engine carbon footprint for those years:

yearLitersgallonskgkg CkgCO2

Obviously this doesn't include my electricity, gas, and airplane emissions, but the point is that a person can still live like a rev-head and have a third-world emissions profile.

As I’m sure you all guessed by now, this vehicle was a motorcycle. A 1987 CBR 600, to be exact. But due to cultural misconceptions, many people still don’t understand that a sportsbike is just as good for the planet as a Prius- probably better when you look at manufacturing impact.

There are added bonuses as well, which include:
  • Easy to park
  • Fun to ride
  • Lower registration fees
  • Cheaper to buy
  • Chick Magnet

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Those crazy googlers

Today's list of search terms that brought people to the lounge is somewhat more amusing than usual. Hopefully most of these people found what they were looking for. After all, what person googling 'hot chicks' isn't really dying to learn about the history of Thermodynamics? And if the person looking for a "sphalerite slogan" could come back and tell us what you came up with, I'm sure we're all dying to know.

14 11.67% argon diffusion watson
8 6.67% diffusion argon watson
3 2.50% hot chicks
2 1.67% junior geologist expat australia
2 1.67% seismology blogs
2 1.67% google earth
2 1.67% ben williamson virginia tech
2 1.67% schott rule
2 1.67% why i became a geologist
1 0.83% pregnancy biological laboratory worker
1 0.83% trophy rock
1 0.83% for the money
1 0.83% laboratory at antarctica
1 0.83% marie curie's political ramifications
1 0.83% hcl dolomite
1 0.83% santa claus being nice
1 0.83% hydro plant carbon credit calculator
1 0.83% cookie fission
1 0.83% why should father not babysit
1 0.83% pie crust recipe with diagrams
1 0.83% ben williamson's blog
1 0.83% santa claus naughty toy
1 0.83% 'a380 takeoff
1 0.83% fluro cycling jersey
1 0.83% geophysics blog
1 0.83% pecan pie dark or light syrup
1 0.83% aspects of pie
1 0.83% who invented thermodynamics
1 0.83% chocolate chip cookie metric
1 0.83% gore extrapolation
1 0.83% pecan pie light syrup
1 0.83% i do not give a shit
1 0.83% old west minuter figurines
1 0.83% the noble gas
1 0.83% crucible bunsen burner
1 0.83% santa coal cartoon
1 0.83% nude smooching
1 0.83% australian postdoc
1 0.83% lemming lounge
1 0.83% merry christmas erotic
1 0.83% isotope dilution
1 0.83% hot chicks working out
1 0.83% hot chick measurements
1 0.83% lounging stockings
1 0.83% precaution in method of slope stability wikipedia
1 0.83% alluvial fans on google earth
1 0.83% picture of baby lemming
1 0.83% how do you do the wild wild west
1 0.83% mnemonics thermodynamics
1 0.83% isolation suit laboratory
1 0.83% clima outback diagramm
1 0.83% google
1 0.83% dolomite
1 0.83% thermal engine helmholz
1 0.83% women pregnancy in laboratories
1 0.83% gliese 581 in google maps
1 0.83% evapotranspiration
1 0.83% geomap
1 0.83% allinurl:gas blogspot
1 0.83% most beautiful girl in the universe
1 0.83% rennovations calculator
1 0.83% sexual sin and no sons
1 0.83% most beautiful exotic girls
1 0.83% pecans vs. walnuts
1 0.83% mineralogy labs australia
1 0.83% what is geochemistry
1 0.83% google earth belarus
1 0.83% hot chicks at work
1 0.83% sphalerite slogan
1 0.83% cv ben-williamson
1 0.83% beautiful girls
1 0.83% nappies
1 0.83% climate crap
1 0.83% hot chicks big
1 0.83% santa claus rape
1 0.83% isotope dilution radiation hazard
1 0.83% earth-37
1 0.83% pregnancy computer lab risk
1 0.83% antarctica ice mass loss or gain
1 0.83% town of gneiss
1 0.83% kuril islands girls
1 0.83% australias most beautiful girls
1 0.83% how many barrells of oil can you get out of a whale
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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Greetings, Wikipedians and Gristiods

This afternoon, I noticed a threefold increase in my blog traffic, which seemed unusual for a page that I hadn’t updated in a week and a half. Obviously, people going back to work and needing to waste their boss’s money was an obvious explanation, but a bit of research showed that something else was afoot.

It appears that this humble blog is now a source for Wikipedia. Specifically, my post on carbon sequestration in mine tailings has been linked from the Wikipedia mine tailings page.

On the one hand, this is cool- look at all the traffic! On the other hand, the idea that they use a blog description of a scientific talk written by a guy in the audience is a bit worrying. Is my blog really the clearest and most accessible writing on the subject?

Surely it would be better research to use the website of the research group run by the guy who gave the talk, or better yet, read and cite one of his students’ peer-reviewed scientific papers (both of which were linked in the original blog post).

Of course, exposure has its downsides. As Grist readers are doubtless aware, certain comments there and other places have taken tailing sequestration as the holy grail of anthropogenic CO2 problems. Obviously I love the traffic, but it seems that my new link-groupie missed the bit where I wrote

We don’t currently mine enough nickel, chromite, or asbestos for this to be a stand-alone solution for all emissions...

Also, the 0.1 Gt/yr is a theoretical maximum. One of the interesting complications that was presented in the talk, and which I neglected to mention in my drive to simplify, is that not all mines with serpentine tailings seem to be carbonating. At least some of there research seems to be into looking at why the asbestos mines are carbonating while the nickel mines are not. As a result, current carbonation rates are orders of magnitude below the theoretical maximum.

Tailings sequestration is a potential tool towards addressing the issue of carbon dioxide pollution. But like many novel approaches, it has a way to go before this scientific curiosity becomes a widespread technology.

Of course, one of the great things about a free market economy is that a person who passionately believes that a particular phenomenon is potentially lucrative can do more about it than just talk. He can develop the technology, spruik it to investors, raise cash through an IPO, and let his profits do the talking. All that's required is scientific know-how, a head for business, and a marketplace that places a price on carbon.

Where on (Google) Earth #84

The following picture illustrates a tectonically-controlled climactic process. Name that process along with the location. The Schott Rule is in effect. Obviously, a picture with this much cloud in it is going to go wonky in an oblique view, so we will use the traditional approach.