Category: Uncategorized

Mushroom Hunting, a geologist’s view of

Today my partner went out mushroom hunting. Apparently this is something that some microbiologists do. However, to my surprise, this does not entail serious expeditionary setup. Imagine, they (my partner and her supervisor) just went out to look for mushrooms. Annually, mushrooms seem to kill a handful of people a year in the USA, with more in Europe. These numbers are about the same as sharks. Now, I am completely baffled by why lab-based microbiologists would engage in such a dangerous activity without getting properly kitted out. The following would seem reasonable recommendations as starting kit for mushroom hunting. I would assume that something like via Wikipedia would be the bare minimum required for hunting mushrooms. That is the elephant gun once owned by Henry Morton Stanley, and should provide enough stopping power to put a mushroom on the ground in a hurry when needed. However, if there is a group of mushrooms, such as a fairy ring, then more stopping power would probably be required. Something along this scale could be employed, with sufficient planning and a forward observer: via Wikipedia This would be enough to break up fairy rings and prevent one from getting swarmed by group of […]

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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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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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Landscapes

Yeah, so this is not a race report, but it is of interest. The current curator of @curateZAR happens to be a travel nut (that might be putting it mildly…). Since I travel a far bit in northern KwaZulu-Natal, I figured she might like some of the photos I have taken. Without further ado: Hope these are enjoyed.

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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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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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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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