Sunday, December 30, 2012

CBS Sunday Morning on Fracking

A contentious topic in geology is "Fracking". Here is CBS Sunday Morning (a stalwart of my Sunday Mornings) talking about the topic. Hopefully this explains a little bit to those who like to know more about it beside the politics.

And for those without the ability to watch the video (it doesn't seem to be working on Apple stuff) here is a link:

Friday, December 28, 2012

Geological Podcasts - Listening to your Geology

Updated 4-24-14: I have an updated version located on its own page. You can access that using the banner to the left under "Pages" or by clicking HERE.

Lately I have working on getting some stuff set up and I have been looking and listening to all of the Geology Podcasts that I could find. These are the results of my searches my thoughts on them. The number of episodes are as of the posting of this post. If there are any podcasts that I missed, please let me know in the comments.

Updated: 1/9/2013 - I rearranged the podcasts and added some new ones that were listed by Andrew Alden on (Thanks Ron for the info). You can head on over there for more podcasts that I do not list.

------------------------------Currently Active Podcasts*--------------------------------

The PalaeoCast

Number of Episodes: 8
Format: Bimonthly

Thoughts: This is a young podcast that I have been listening to for a couple of months. The set up is that the hosts interview different scientists each episode about various paleontological topics, with one show limited to one interview with a little bit of commentary. There does not seem to be a set pattern to the topics but I could be wrong about that. Not bad so far.

This Week in Science

Number of Episodes: >360 (not quite sure)
Format: Weekly

This podcast is about science in general but has a heavy dose of geology related news. The show describes the latest news in science and then discusses them among it's hosts and what the possible implications could be. This is the type of podcast I feel should be made. It is entertaining by people who enjoy what they do. There are no monotonous voices droning on about this or that, AND it's informative.

The USGS CoreCast

Number of Episodes: 182
Format: I'm not really sure. They seem to come out randomly.

The CoreCast is a podcast/videocast where the episodes are short (4-10 minutes) but deal with a specific topic at the time. iTunes seems rather funny about it because when I look for older episodes they don't appear under my subscription feed but I can get some of them through the Store.

KY GeoCast

Number of Episodes: 6
Format: Unknown

I would have listed this with the defunct podcasts but it seems to have 2 of the 6 episodes come out in 2012. So it will sit here for the time. This is a podcast describing the geology of various sites across Kentucky. The episodes are short (3-10 minutes) are are very informative. The only problem is the older podcasts seem a bit dull, although the 2012 ones seem to have upped their game a bit and present something more entertaining to listen to.

------------------------------Defunct (Archived) Podcasts--------------------------------

The podClast

Number of Episodes: 17
Last episode: 2/27/2011

The podClast was a geological news podcast that discussed recent geological events discussing ramifications and how they could have happened. Only episodes 7, and 9-17 appear to be currently on iTunes.

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Podcast

Number of Episodes: ~34
Last episode: 5/13/2010

Although listed as a podcast this is primarily available as a video podcast. Some of the earlier episodes though were released in both video and audio format. This is a highly produced podcast (at least the later episodes were) that is informative and rather entertaining. It focuses on marine biology and geology and is interesting for anyone interested in a short (3-10 minute) little science snippet.

------------------------------Misleading Podcasts*--------------------------------

The Geologic Podcast

Number of Episodes: 292
Format: Weekly

Thoughts: Although it contains a title of "The Geologic Podcast" the latest episode I listened to (#292) had no geology in it and about 3-4 minutes of scientific content in general. It is more set up as a comedy show. As pointed out by Callan in the comments, the name comes from the shows host (George) who is into logic, hence Geo-Logic. I'm sure I am not the only one who has found this podcast by mistake.

*Currently active indicates a new podcast within the last calender year.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

My Failures in Science - Part 2: Transit of Venus

In a continuation of my previous post (Part 1) I will talk about my attempt at picturing the Transit of Venus which took place shortly after the solar eclipse.

Part 2: Transit of Venus

June 5th, 2012, a little over 2 weeks after the solar eclipse, Venus passed in front of the sun during what is called the Transit of Venus.

Lessons Learned from the Solar Eclipse:

1. I did learn at least one of my lessons from last time. I went out to get the pretty cheap glasses ($1) to watch the Transit.

2. Camera's were a plenty and iPod was fully charged.

The Transit:

The failure of capturing the solar eclipse drove me to do better this time. The problem though, was that the Transit provided a much smaller target to photograph. Luckily though we had a much sunnier day and was able to see the sun for most of the period of transit.

View of the sun from the car at the lake.
We were even able to see the Transit really well with the glasses.
My wife using the paper eclipse glasses.
The only problem though was trying to capture the transit on film. We had heard that trying to take a picture with our camera could fry the lens (or something like that). So I didn't want to that directly. Especially since I only had my wife's camera and she would probably be pissed if I broke it. I figured I could try to photograph it with my iPod Touch.
View of the Transit through the glasses as photographed by my iPod Touch. The sun is partially eclipsed by some clouds.
Another photo of the Transit as photographed with my iPod Touch pressed up against the glasses after the clouds had passed.
 The problem with this though, was that the resolution of the iPod was way too low. I'm pretty sure the size of Venus was smaller than an individual pixel in the above images.

Well we headed back to the house since we didn't know of anyway to capture it well. But I wasn't giving up. The next thing I tried was to use my Aluminum Foil pinhole projection from the Solar Eclipse (pictured in the previous post).
Pinhole projection attempt.
That didn't work. Not sure if Venus was just too small to be projected in such a manner or it wasn't working at all.

The next and last attempt was to try and take a picture with our DSLR through the glasses and hope it didn't damage anything. The first picture I took was just trying it out without a filter and since I didn't have an extreme zoom I felt I wouldn't have any problem damaging the camera.
Picture of the sun without a filter. Running out of time as the sun sets behind the house and the clouds.

After taking several photos I think I might have captured it but I still can't be sure. I don't remember where Venus was at the time so I can't be sure that the darker pixel represent it and aren't just darker pixels.
View of the Transit taken with a DSLR through cheap eclipse glasses. Venus is possibly near the right edge of the sun.

Another picture of the sun zoomed in a bit. I don't think that Venus is visible in this one.
So although I had better equipment, I still wasn't adequately prepared.

Next time, though, as mentioned in the last post, I will be better prepared. Perhaps obtaining an eclipse lens would be the best bet. But I will also try out the ideas that were mentioned in the comments to get a range of results.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Geology in Pop Culture - Candy!!!!

I found some rock candy at a local candy/toy store and I thought it looked awesome. Other than the candy colors being a little bright you could probably lay these down next to some gravel and get them mixed up.

I think these exact candies were also being sold at GSA as well but I didn't buy any there.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

AW #53 - The last one???? Now Posted

The tales of the end of the Earth are now posted and are being discussed over at the newest Accretionary Wedge hosted by Lockwood at Outside the Interzone.

Submissions vary from the humerous to "some serious pieces debunking this whole doomsday nonsense".

Nonsense? You won't be saying that Saturday when the world is over.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Dinos in Pop Culture

Here is some Jurassic Park love in the NYC Times Square Toys R Us from last January.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Geology on the Road - St George, UT

Here are some pictures from the St George Dinosaur Discovery Site at Johnson Farm in southern Utah from a tour i was given after the SVP annual meeting last tear. Very nice trackways. I need to go back and get better pictures sometime.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

AW#53 - Countdown to Oblivion

This is an entry for AW#53 which is a special edition highlighting the end of everything. Please be aware that everything in this article is fictitious, unless it turns out to be true, then it is prophetic.


December 16th, 2012. News reports are striking fast and furious. Hollywood has made a fortune capitulating on the end of days with such movies as End of Days, Armageddon, 2012, Deep Impact, The Day After Tomorrow, The Core and other seemingly hopeful looks into out future. But the time has come and it appears that those movies were more opportunistic than reality appears to be.Giving credit where credit is due, the Mayans score another point. Mayans 2 Earth 1.

     Armageddon (the actual one, not the movie) is scheduled to arrive in 5 days at Noon EST, Friday (December 21st, 2012) judging by the look of the skies it may arrive a little early. Weather reports are calling for fire and brimstone based from a rouge series of asteroids (the actual one, not the video game) previously undetected. The asteroids are made up of a rare form of plutonium, not before known to exist in the asteroid belt. Tracking the trajectory of the asteroids back they appears to have been knocked out of the asteroid belt by a serious of collisions instigated by a gravitomic shift of Jupiter's orbit precipitated by the Shoemaker Levy comet impact back in 1994. Previous reports did not detect any impending apocalypse. The gravitomic shifts caused the asteroids to start bouncing around the asteroid belt like a giant game of pinball, resulting in several smaller and a few larger asteroids being ejected into Earth's orbit. 

    Fortunately, the resulting impact of the asteroids into the surface of the Earth will only effect one side of the Earth, the western hemisphere. Unfortunately the plutonium is expected to create a nuclear explosion large enough to impact the furthest regions of the Eastern Hemisphere within 12 hours of impact. The intense heat from the combination of the impacts and nuclear explosions is expected to cause a fissure along the center of the Earth forcing the Earth to fracture, much like a head of lettuce slammed into a table. Unlike a head of lettuce, this is not likely to be palatable to most residence of the Earth.

    There is one beacon of hope though. It appears in 90% of all predictions the resulting meltdown of the Earth will leave the Christmas Islands untouched. It is unknown the exact reason for this miracle but all flights to the Christmas Islands have been booked at this time.

    I would wish everyone a Merry Christmas but the point has become rather moot. 

UPDATE: Further models have indicated that although the Christmas Islands will survive the initial impact, it turns out that they will eventually succumb to the apocalyptic events, ironically enough, on Christmas Day, December 25th, 2012. Reports of this update has caused an increase in flights being booked to the Easter Islands in hopes a similar string of events will give them a few months longer to live.
   Booked flights are also on the rise for the Intercourse Islands. It is unknown why.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Dinos in Pop Culture

Here are some Dino toys that I haven't seen before. It is from a specialty toy shop in the fancy Grand American hotel in SLC.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Dinos in Pop Culture

Our next installment in Dinos in Pop Culture brings us this very very bizarre looking creation you can make that kind of looks like a dinosaur if you squint real hard.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Random Paleo Photo from the archives

And the next of my photos through the archives is this picture of the Huntington Mammoth from the USU Eastern Prehistoric Museum in Price, UT.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

My Failures in Science - Part 1: The Solar Eclipse

The wonderful thing about science is that you can often learn just as much, if not more, when mistakes are made than when everything goes according to plan. It is the errors that show us that something wasn't accounted for and those discoveries can be the really interesting things.

To discuss some of my scientific mishaps, I felt like a good way was to create a series of blogs. These are mostly from some of my more random adventures in scientific enlightenment but I feel they are fun.

Part 1 - The Solar Eclipses

On May 20th, 2012 there was a solar eclipse. It was toted as one of the best chances in my lifetime to view a solar eclipse. According to the map below I wasn't in the ideal of locations (in Salt Lake City) but I was in a good location to at least get a partial eclipse.

The problem was that we didn't have any equipment for viewing a solar eclipse. I didn't have the glasses (the store was all sold out) and we couldn't afford anything more specialized for the camera. We also happened to wait until the last minute so that didn't help matters either. This meant I had to make something or go without witnessing it.

I ended up trying to make a "Pinhole projector" but I didn't have the time or materials to do it properly. What I came up with was my "Aluminum foil board".

My homemade eclipse tools
I took a piece of cardboard, cut a square hole in it. Then covered the hole with aluminum foil. The aluminum foil was then pierced with a pin (later to be "adjusted"). A wooden board was also painted white for a projection surface.

Aluminum foil projection board

 We had a problem though. For the majority of the solar eclipse we had cloud cover. In an environment where we have little to no precipitation for the entire year (SLC gets ~15 in/yr), we ended up having cloud cover the one time I need it to be sunny. 

View of the "Solar Eclipse" through the clouds

  My wife though had the idea to head on down to the park anyway and see if we can see anything (we don't have a good view of the setting sun from our house but the park down the street has some amazing views). So we walk on down (~20 minute walk) at around 7pm. Peak time was around 7:30pm, with the eclipse ending at 8:30pm. The sun started to peek out around the clouds at 7:30. The problem was that the clouds still interfered with my system so I couldn't tell if it was working until the sun was fully out. When it finally came out I was able to project an image on the board by adjusting the distance between the projection surface and the pinhole. Unfortunately, though, the pinhole seemed to be too small for anything worthwhile to be visible on the projection. So taking a key I widened the hole into a now "no-longer pinhole" projection system. 

Zoom up of "pinhole"
This seemed to work rather well. You can see the result with the partial eclipse being projected onto the board in the picture below, which is even visible in the low res photo taken. Although the projections on the board ended up being very, very faint. In all of the examples of pinhole projection systems it seemed like the projection should be as clear as a strong shadow. Something must have been constructed wrong.

My wife pointing out the eclipse to my daughter.
One of the problems with this event, you will notice, is that there are very few pictures taken. The reasons for that:

No Photos Reason 1 - We forgot our DSLR camera at the house after we went for the walk to the park. There was not enough time to go back and get it before sunset/the end of the solar eclipse.

No Photos Reason 2 - My iPod Touch was our backup. It was not charged sufficiently and died immediately after the second photo. Pictures of the equipment were taken at a later date. The only photos taken at the eclipse was of the cloudy day and my wife and child looking at the board.

After the iPod died we were actually loaned disposable glasses from a family sitting near us so at least we were able to see the eclipse, if not document it.


So now we come to why this was a failure of science on my part.

1. I should have started prepping for this way ahead of time. Purchased glasses or something. A camera lens designed for an eclipse would have been awesome but probably cost prohibitive.

2. Cameras need to be brought and charged and backed up. Make sure you have them. It is hard to take pictures without cameras.

3. When making you own equipment. Follow the directions. This is the problem of the fuzzy projection. I believe if there was a tube involved to direct the projection it would have worked better. But I'm not 100% certain. Maybe next time.

4. Improvisation with the equipment most likely won't make things better. Although my pinhole started to work after I "fixed" it, it may have just been my imagination the whole time.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Random Geology Photo

There are a series of rocks lining the rim of the Grand Canyon. This picture was taken of one of those rocks from my trip back in March, 2011. The rock pictured is likely the Vishnu Schist but I'm not entirely positive.

This is my attempt to clean out the old geology photos off my iPod that I took for the blog since now Blogger has a app.