Author: mtb

Accretionary Wedge 55 – When Rocks Fight Back

This month’s  Accretionary Wedge is asking about injuries obtained in the cause of geoscience. I do not really have any photos of gaping wounds and such, but nearly had a fairly nasty one once. While looking at a roadcutting along the N2 a short way outside Grahamstown, I got fairly high up on the roadcut to look more closely at somwthing that seemed interesting. My background in rock climbing probably makes me a little blase about clambering on rocks, so I was higher than I probably needed to be for this particular exercise. I then needed to get down, so started to descend. Then, because of a quirk of the Rhodes geology department, summarised as “light rain will not deter fieldwork”, I slipped on the slightly slippery rock. This lead to a poorly controlled careen down towards the base of the outcrop. If there had been no road, I would have been able to run it out easily. As it was, because my mind was occupied with things other than looking both ways before I cross a national route (note to kids: this is a bad thing), I elected to take the fall harder than needed. This lead to me […]

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Thought of the Week – Science on Twitter

In an attempt to blog more regularly, I will be trying to take one thing that I read or came across in the past week or so and writing something about it. I am going to kick off this series with something from twitter, asked by @JacquelynGill: If you follow someone for science, does whether they tweet personal things make you more or less inclined to follow them?#themeinmedia My take on this is simple: Organisations should be impersonal, people are, well, people. To elaborate: If you are tweeting on behalf of an organisation, then you should only be tweeting about or for that organisation. Saying something like “The office is a bit haywire today, expect slow responses”, especially you are doing helpdesk type stuff is fine, in my view. On the other hand, posting links not related to your organisation’s field of interest should not be happening. This goes for humour or gossip or opinion. Why should, for example, a geological society care about Lance Armstrong having taken banned substances, or who won an Oscar (unless they were portraying a geologist, or something like that, I suppose). Both of those are simply recent news items, which are possibly of general interest, but […]

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Why Dinosaurs?

This may be a bit of a whiny post, but I am wondering about the prevalence of dinosaurs as the archtypical fossils. I mean, many small boys who have no inclination to learning anything can still rattle off a string of dinosaur names. Or at least they could when I was one. But why dinosaurs? They are not the only interesting fossilised things. Trilobites seem to be common, especially as tattoos, but beyond that there seems to be little variety. Why does no one talk about therapsids in the press? Why are pterosaurs and pre-dinosaurs like dimetrodon considered dinosaurs by many? Why are the many different non-dinosaur marine reptiles considered dinosaurs (mosasaurs, plesiosaurs, icthyosaurs &c)? I suspect part of it is due to the majority of US fossils (that I have heard of at least, feel free to correct me) being dinosaurs. This, combined with movies such as the Jurassic Park franchise, have brought them to the fore when considering fossils, in the same way as the dodo is the archtypical extinct animal due to direct human causes. In addition, there are some amazing fossils coming out of the fine-grained Jurassic- and Cretaceous-aged limestones that other fossils just can not hold […]

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Daves

This is a rather odd post, but bear with me. There are three Daves whom I have a great deal of respect for. I interact with one Dave fairly regularly, one had immense influence on me during my formative years and one I know only through the internet and do not interact with much, beyond an occasional e-mail. Looking at various similarities between them highlights some interesting things that I feel are worth talking more about. The most obvious one is that they are all creative, in different ways. Rather than merely consuming content, they create it. At least two make (some) money off this, the third does it simply for the love of it. Creating things, music, writing, whatever it is, is something that more people should try to do. Personally, I do some juggling and the occasional bit of writing (see exhibit A: this blog), but the creative approach to the Daves is something that they could probably not turn off if they tried. Secondly, they are all tolerant. Well, tolerant of most things. A big exception is intolerance. You are able to hold dissenting views to them, but back up why you think a certain way and […]

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Unicycle Choices

Since my primary unicycle broke last weekend (see my race report), I am looking at options for a replacement. This seems a good opportunity to provide a brief write-up on the pros and cons of various wheel sizes, as they pertain to unicycling at least. In general, larger wheels are more difficult to start riding, since they roll further and are more sensitive to pedal input. On the other hand, they move faster (due to afore-mentioned larger roll-out), so are more suitable for longer trips. 20″ 20″ (and 19″) unicycles are often the first that people try. The smaller wheel size makes them more suitable for learning on (I learned on a 20″ borrowed from a friend). They are also the ride of choice for trials and flatland, where the generally higher control (due to low roll-out) that can be attained is desirable. They are also popular for hockey or polo. 24″ 24″ unicycles were for a long time the standard. They are still popular for freestyle riding and hockey/polo. They are also often used for very technical downhill MUni. 26″ Relatively recent, but becoming very popular due to a couple reasons: a) there are a huge number of tyre […]

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SSWC 2012 – Race Report

So it begins…. A manic weekend, consisting for many of equal parts booze, bikes and blurry memories, took place last weekend at Winterton, in the KZN Midlands. This was the 2012 edition of the Single Speed World Cup. About 400 maniacally clothed (usually) cyclists descended on the little town of Winterton. Included in their number were 10 unicyclists. Julian, who had heard about the event from someone else, approached the SSCrew (Single Speed Crew) in order to find out whether unicycles (which are typically fixed-geared) would be allowed and got an enthusiastic “Yes!”. I had work until late on Friday, so I missed the practice ride on Friday, that reportedly became a practice swim, due to a storm. As such, my arrival at the Winterton Country Club (WCC) coincided with part of the bidding attempt for the rights to host the 2013 version of the race. This consisted of a series of silly tasks. Amongst others: Zulu dancing, attempting to place a helmet on a team-mate with a fishing rod while blindfolded, spinning around a stick before hitting a beer-mug off a team-mate’s head, attempting to get the highest reading on a pedometer attached to your head while head-banging, a […]

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Where on Google Earth #355

Where on Google Earth is this?

Since I was able to locate the brilliant blue waters of the Bahamas in Felix Bossert’s #354, it falls to me to give you somewhere to look for. As a newcomer, I have chosen something quite (very?) easy, but apparently the pace of the game is slow right now, so the Schott Rule is not in effect. Where is this:  This should be a quick game, so good luck. EDIT: (2012-09-30) It appears that my judgement was off, so here is a bit of a hint: This is found on the edge of a major structure in the southern hemisphere. EDIT2: (2012-10-07) The structure is in Africa. It is easily found using your favourite search-engine, should you know what to search for.

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Geology on the Interwebses

I have been upping the number of people I am following on Twitter recently. This has a bit of a snowball effect, in that following more people brings the people that they follow into your view and you start following them. The vast majority of people I have followed in the last few weeks have been scientists, specifically geologists/palæontologists/earth scientists or societies for them. While this is good, in that I genuinely find this stuff interesting, it also brings home how little I am keeping up with the field. What I do find worthwhile is that I am able to hear about interesting stuff, like Where on (Google) Earth. WoGE is a bit of a puzzle/treasure hunt, wherein an image (or images) of a geologically interesting place are posted and the first person to respond with the coördinates of the place shown (and something about the geology) posts the next image. Another, vaguely related, event is the Accretionary Wedge, whereby a number of bloggers within the earth sciences write on a particular theme each month. The range of views is an interesting overview on just how broad the earth sciences are: you get geophysicists, geologists, climatologists, palæontologists, planetary ecologists…. In […]

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A Start

So, I found that Tiki-wiki was giving me issues with its image gallery. I have therefore migrated to WordPress, since all the cool kids are doing it, and I have always cared about what the cool kids are doing…. There a few things I would like to do with this, but the primary purpose is for me to get some thoughts and things out there. Comments are disabled, since I am not necessarily looking to start dialogue or debate. There are other channels for allowing that, and sticking it in this lonely little corner of the internet is not really helpful. Consider this an attempt to prevent fragmenting good thoughts to far-flung, little trafficked locations. In any case, this will be the home for whatever strikes my fancy.

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