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Geomedia: Books: Rediscovering the science behind Thoreau's 'Walden'

Last summer, I had the opportunity to enjoy a personal tour around the world’s most famous kettle pond, Walden Pond in Concord, Mass., led by geologist Robert Thorson, who recently authored the book “Walden’s Shore: Henry David Thoreau and Nineteenth-Century Science.” The rainy, gray day did not diminish our hike or Thorson’s delight in sharing what he had learned from his research into Henry David Thoreau’s lifelong fascination with Walden Pond and the science behind his iconic book, “Walden.”

19 Mar 2015

Mineral Resource of the Month: Silver

Silver, one of the eight precious or noble metals, has been used extensively throughout recorded history for various medical purposes, ornaments and utensils, and for its intrinsic value as the basis for trade and monetary systems. Silver has played a significant role in world history, financing a Greek victory over the Persians in 480 B.C., helping Spain become a world power in the 16th and 17th centuries, and helping fund the Union forces during the U.S. Civil War, to give a few examples.

22 Feb 2015

Energy Notes: September 2013-2014

Oil and petroleum imports data are preliminary numbers taken from the American Petroleum Institute’s Monthly Statistical Report. For more information visit www.api.org.

22 Feb 2015

Down to Earth With: Mineralogist George W. Robinson

Many geologists understand the joyous feeling of coming across a beautiful rock in the field; George W. Robinson, who began collecting minerals at age 9, has had a lifetime full of such moments. After delving deeper into his early avocation as a teenager, he received his doctorate in mineralogy from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, in 1979. He has worked as a high school earth science teacher, field collector, mineral dealer, museum curator and professor — all occupations that shared a common focus: a love of minerals.

 
19 Feb 2015

Geomedia: Books: To Tiktaalik and beyond

In 2008, Neil Shubin penned the terrific, “Your Inner Fish: A Journey into the 3.5-Billion-Year History of the Human Body,” in which he explored the stories of deep time as they are written in the details of our bodily architecture. As both a professor of anatomy and the paleontologist who discovered Tiktaalik, a transitional fossil between fish and amphibians, Shubin was ideally positioned to tell this tale.

 
18 Feb 2015

Benchmarks: February 17, 1977: Hydrothermal vents are discovered

In early February 1977, as scientists aboard the research vessel (R/V) Knorr made their way across the Pacific waters off the northwest coast of South America, they had reason to suspect their expedition might find the success that had eluded others. Previous missions had identified their destination — a site on the ocean surface about 330 kilometers northeast of the Galápagos Islands, below which two tectonic plates rift apart — as a promising location from which to search for their intended target. Once there, the researchers would deploy a variety of tools, including manned and unmanned submersibles, to the ocean bottom in the hopes of directly spotting hydrothermal vents.

17 Feb 2015

Conjunction injunction: Recent and future planetary alignments

February 1962: The five planets visible to the naked eye, as well as the sun and moon, all appeared within 17 degrees of each other in the sky. A concurrent solar eclipse and new moon made it possible to view the planets.

04 Feb 2015

Comment: Supersites: Sharing geoscience data for science and society

In 2005, the United Nations developed the Group on Earth Observations (GEO) program, a collaboration of 89 institutions and organizations that sustain comprehensive Earth-observing capabilities for the benefit of humankind. One of GEO's programs is the Geohazard Supersites and Natural Laboratories initiative, which is focused on sharing spaceborne and other geophysical data to understand geohazards and to promote preparedness and hazard mitigation.

22 Jan 2015

Geomedia: Books: A brief history of our cosmic origins

In the 1980 television show “Cosmos,” astronomer Carl Sagan famously noted: “The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of starstuff.” This scientifically and philosophically profound concept — that we are starstuff through and through — has been known for less than 50 years, and the history of its discovery was fraught with naysayers.

21 Jan 2015

Mineral Resource of the Month: Antimony

Antimony is a lustrous silvery-white semimetal or metalloid. Archaeological and historical studies indicate that antimony and its mineral sulfides have been used by humans for at least six millennia. The alchemist Basil Valentine is sometimes credited with “discovering” the element; he described the extraction of metallic antimony from stibnite in his treatise “The Triumphal Chariot of Antimony,” published sometime between 1350 and 1600. In the early 18th century, Jöns Jakob Berzelius chose the periodic symbol for antimony (Sb) based on stibium, which is the Latin name for stibnite.

18 Jan 2015

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