Another way of thinking about the geological timescale

A few years ago I came across the suggestion of using an analogy of a movie to visualise geological time-scales. That is, each frame would be one year and you would view 24 frames per second. I incorporated this into a talk that I did, and then forgot about it. I was reminded of this the other day, and redid the number crunching. The results, assuming that my maths is correct, can be seen below. I have worked out the number of seconds from this year to each event. I then worked out a more human-readable time (minutes, days, weeks and so on). I am sure that I am missing some events, so if you have anything in mind, feel free to let me know. I hope that this is interesting to some people who talk about geological times to non-geologists. Timescale 1994 (first democratic elections in .za): 0.83s 1987 (ME!): 1.125s 1961 (first man in space): 2.2s 100 ya (WWI): 4.17s 111 ya (first powered flight): 4.625s 1820 (British settlers arrive in the Eastern Cape, +-Shaka Zulu’s mfecane): 8.1s 1652 (Jan van Riebeek arrives at the Cape): 15.1s 2000 ya (Time of Jesus): 83.3s 1 minute 23.3 seconds 2560BC […]

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New Adventures

And breaking the silence. So, most people who know me as someone not on the other side of a computer screen (and even many of those) know that I recently relocated to Port Elizabeth. Why? Well, I am starting my MSc. The project is an interesting mix of computer science and geology, in which I will be processing a variety of geophysical datasets to provide baseline geological information on basin architecture. Settling in has gone well, and I am currently eyeing the rapidly growing pile of readings I have accumulated and need to sift through. The variety of subfields that I need to assimilate and synthesise is rather daunting, but, we shall overcome. I hope to keep this blog at least vaguely up-to-date on my progress, but it will take a bit of time until I have anything concrete to show.

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A small confession…

… I love pulp fiction. No, not the movie, which I have not seen for some reason, but the genre. Today I picked up a large stack of issues of pulp comics, mostly from the War Picture Library. These are set in World War 2, with accurate equipment and real battles. The stories are fictional though, and usually at least slightly fantastic. As a whole, the stack of cheaply made comics on the floor next to me has little to recommend it: the stories are trite, predictable, characters are one-dimensional, there is often minimal moral ambiguity, in many cases they are thinly-veiled propaganda, and filled with casual racism, outdated stereotypes, and sexism (if in fact any women appear). And at the same time, enormously entertaining. But pulp in general appeals to me. I enjoy listening to old radio shows, which are often pretty pulpy, filled with lantern-jawed detectives, distressed damsels, bizarre aliens, and vile villains. I have a bunch of out-of-print ebooks of things printed in the 1930s and 1940s. The Indiana Jones movies (which I love, even the Crystal Skull) are firmly rooted in pulp fiction. Pulp fiction is just fun. It will not make you think, it will […]

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Open South African Geological Data

In the last couple of years, I have had a growing interest in the open data and open access movement. I have not really done too much yet, being located on the periphery of what might be done, and with a lack of a specific project/problem to tackle. That said, I think that I have found one: Open geological data in South Africa. I have a vested interest in being able to use geological data freely, most regularly useful for me would be a digital map of the boundaries between different rock units as found on geological maps. Since a large portion of South Africa’s economy is reliant directly on mineral resources, it makes sense to have information pertaining to it to be available. While lithological data is available, much of it is at too high a scale to be very useful for looking at specific sites. 1:1 000 000 scale data is available, provided that you have a log-in at ESRI and can run ArcReader. That information can be found from this page. The link to the more detailed 1:250 000 scale maps is broken. The people responsible for collecting this data in South Africa are the Council for […]

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Worthwhile Causes

Over the last few months I have come across two causes that I think are worth supporting. Map Action The first is Map Action ( http://www.mapaction.org/ ). This organisation is based in the UK, and provides first response mapping in disaster situations. This may sound a trifle odd, but think about it: if the midden hits the windmill in a big way, you need to know where the most manure is, in order to start organise sorting it out. You also need to know what is needed to clean up the manure. So the maps that get made are relevant to the situation, answering questions like “Is there a first aid post in this area?”, “Which areas have clean water?”, and “Where are communication lines cut?” which are of immense importance when organising a relief effort. The people on the ground are all volunteers, and drop everything at short notice to go and provide vital initial mapping services. Once other relief services, such as the Red Cross or MSF, become more established, Map Action hand over to them. Now, partly because I love maps, I think that this is fantastic. It utilises modern software, a diverse group of people and […]

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Dasher – Non-traditional Input Methods

Just a short note to prevent this being submerged in a tidal wave of baking and food. Today a friend of mine pointed me at Dasher ( http://www.inference.phy.cam.ac.uk/dasher/TryJavaDasherNow.html ), which is a dynamic input program. Basically, it allows you to do away with a traditional keyboard, and have your input be based on a lexicon. What this means is that it take predictive text, but you only need one finger (or IR pointer on your head or a mouse or whatever) to actually type. One thing that I have already noticed is that you need to have a pretty good idea of what you want to type before starting, or you end up getting lost. I have installed it on my handbrain (which is what the characters in Howard Tayler’s webcomic call PDAs and mobile phones), as an experiment, and I pity the poor sap who tries it next. I have found it fairly intuitive, except for punctuation, on first use. The software is also available for normal desktops. My technology is slowly becoming unusable for anyone else though, given that I am running Linux with a tiling window manager (Arch Linux with SpectrWM if anyone cares) on my laptop. […]

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Soy chai tea!

Now I know I haven’t posted in a while, mainly because I’ve been really trying to work on my thesis/been at a conference. I do have a whole bunch of things I have baked just waiting to get shared but in the mean time for all you chai loving lactose intolerant people out in the world (like myself) I give you chai tea you can make at home! This recipe is really simple and only takes 15 mins to make. I based my recipe off of the one I got from Around my family Table, mainly I upped the spices as I’m not one for subtle flavours (burnt my tongue one too many times on hot choc and tea..). Another great thing is this can be served either hot or cold.. Soy chai tea: 1L of soy milk (sweetened or unsweetened doesn’t matter. Just up the sugar if unsweetened) 1/8 c sugar (1/4c if unsweetened soy) 3 cinnamon sticks 1/8 tsp ginger 1/2 tsp ground cardamom 1/2 tsp ground cloves 1/2 tsp vanilla extract 6 black tea bags Bring the soy, sugar, and the spices to a simmer for about 10 minutes, making sure the spices are incorporated into the […]

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Farmhouse cookies

I made these the other day as a replacement for my choc chunk cookies half of which I had promised to give away. I didn’t have my camera that day, and proceeded to scoff them down before I got a chance to take photos so apologies on the lack of pictures. Ill add some the next time I make some These are very similar to the Peanut butter oat choc chunk cookies I made the other day. These actually require muesli but as I am not a muesli eater I decided to just use quick oats, on the other hand this recipe has raisins and I adore cooked raisins (best part of bread pudding!). They came out extremely crumbly so i suspect I may of been a little stingy with either the butter or sugar, will have to experiment to see which it is.. Also this is the first recipe on here to actually come from my multitude of cookbooks and not the internet. Specifically they are the first recipe in 500 Cakes and Bakes a lovely book I was given for Xmas by martin’s family/mother 2 years ago. Also for someone who rarely makes cookies I surely seem to […]

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Peanut-butter oat choc chunk cookies

Baking I think has officially become my ultimate procrastination tool. My brain seems to go ” I don’t feel like writing these results, I believe I shall that new cookie recipe I saw the other day.” I swear the visiting lecturer things I live in a bakery every time I have seen her I have presented her with baked goods in one form or another. Today’s procrastination took the form of cookies. It should be noted cookies are not really my forte, once I was trying out some type of orange cookies (cant remember what they were called) and once I put them in the oven I ended up with a huge bubbling orange melted mess in my pan which while tasty, turned everyone’s teeth orange and resembled in no shape or form baked goods.. That being said there is one recipe that has never failed me since I was small, the peanut butter choc chip recipe we got off the back of the bag of chocolate chips. While those are always a hit, I came across this one: Oatmeal peanut butter chocolate chip cookies and I couldn’t resist. Although mainly due to the fact that I have a large […]

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Applescotch bake

On Friday I made what I believe is hands down the best apple based dessert I’ve ever had. From what I gather it is basically a deconstructed homage to apple dumplings. There is quite a large amount of sugar in it but surprisingly not too sweet, well very sweet but not cloyingly so.. But it did turn out amazing! I got this recipy from another blog called The Thrifty frugal mom and decided to go with it cause I happily had all the ingredients in the house, and considering I’m at that annoying phase where you run out of all your bulk items at once, that is a tricky thing. That and I had left over apples from Martin’s visit. *Note this recipy requires a very large mixing bowl. I had to use my wok cause my mixing bowl is too small.. my kingdom for an oversized mixing bowl.. So the recipy is as follows: Sauce:: 1 1/4 c brown sugar 1 tbsp cornflour 2 c cold water 1 tsp vanilla extract 1 tbsp butter Dumplings: 2 c flour 1/4 c sugar 1 tbsp baking powder 1/2 tsp salt 1/3 c butter (room temp) 6 apples 3/4 c milk 1/2 […]

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