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Geomedia: Performance: Bella Gaia is a show in orbit and Earth is the star

On the screen, images of the far reaches of the cosmos — galaxies, stellar nebulae and supernovae — loom high over a stage. The words, “The Living Universe,” appear and the view zooms in: first on our galaxy, then on our solar system and, finally, on Earth. Bella Gaia, a live performance piece featuring dance and music set in front of a large projection-screen displaying images of Earth from space, begins.

13 May 2016

Benchmarks: May 12, 1905: Andrew Carnegie donates 'Dippy the Dino'

As one of the world’s wealthiest philanthropists, Andrew Carnegie had come to expect that people would praise and honor him, but May 12, 1905, would be an unusual day for the Pittsburgh steel magnate. Never before had he been honored for donating a dinosaur. Carnegie’s contribution of a massive plaster model of a Diplodocus — at the time the largest-known animal to have ever trod the planet — to London’s Natural History Museum was part of the Scotsman’s dream to rid the world of war, which he called “the foulest blot upon our civilization.”

12 May 2016

Down to Earth With: Solar physicist Thomas Berger

Growing up in California during the Space Race, Thomas Berger was fascinated with aeronautics and aviation, so when he arrived at the University of California at Berkeley, physics seemed like the natural choice. After graduating with a degree in engineering physics, Berger took a job with Lockheed Aircraft in Burbank. But he soon decided it was not for him and returned to graduate school at Stanford, where he discovered a new passion: solar physics.

09 May 2016

Down to Earth With: Ethnogeologist Steven Semken

As a boy growing up in New Jersey, Steven Semken was fascinated by rocks and minerals. His father, a banker, and his mother, a municipal tax collector, loved to travel and frequently indulged their son’s yen for sparkling specimens. They also bought Semken numerous books about geography and geology, including “The Big Golden Book of Geology,” which made such an impression that his childhood copy still sits on his office shelf. Semken vividly remembers staring at the book’s picture of Ship Rock, a towering volcanic neck on the Navajo Nation in northwestern New Mexico. Little did he know that he would later spend 15 years living and teaching geology with that Ship Rock as a backdrop.

06 May 2016

Geomedia: Film: 'A Beautiful Planet' inspires with vivid views of life on and off Earth

An endless sea of bright dots surrounds you amid the otherwise darkened expanse as you slowly approach a swirling, recognizable cloud of glowing light — the Milky Way. As the galaxy grows to fill the screen, you feel as if you are heading home toward Earth. This sensation of being a crewmember on a spaceship stays with you throughout the new documentary film, “A Beautiful Planet,” as well as after it’s over — which is just what the filmmakers intended.

29 Apr 2016

Benchmarks: April 22, 1995: GLOBE is launched

Studying the global environment requires collecting numerous detailed observations. And although it may seem today like we’re awash in such data, relevant observations — collected at the right time and place — are often unavailable. For example, scientists studying precipitation must rely on just a handful of sampling stations: All of the world’s raingages gathered together would only cover an area the size of two basketball courts.

22 Apr 2016

Down to Earth With: Tectonicist Eldridge Moores

When Eldridge Moores was 10 years old, his family lived in Crown King, Ariz., a tiny, remote mining settlement high in the rugged Yavapai Mountains northwest of Phoenix. Money was tight and his family rarely traveled, so Moores vividly remembers a holiday road trip to visit his father’s relatives near San Francisco. The Bay Area left a deep impression on Moores, and, at the end of the journey, upon reaching the first of four switchbacks on the narrow dirt track that led up to Crown King, Moores vehemently pronounced that he would do everything he could to get out of there.

15 Apr 2016

Benchmarks: March 17, 1944: The most recent eruption of Mount Vesuvius

Four-and-a-half years into World War II, the residents of San Sebastiano, Italy — a Neapolitan village on the western slopes of Mount Vesuvius — had already endured much misery: dictatorial rule, invasion, occupation and bombings. In mid-March 1944, they faced yet another catastrophe, this one a natural disaster that would destroy their town.

17 Mar 2016

Down to Earth With: Glaciologist Ted Scambos

As a young boy, Ted Scambos was fascinated by space and technology, and spent many hours watching aircraft take off and land at the Air Force bases where his father, a pilot, was stationed. For his birthday or Christmas, he says he would often ask for a new telescope or a book about the planets. By sixth grade, Scambos had decided to become an astronomer. But by high school, his attention shifted from outer space to chemistry, and he set up an elaborate chemistry set in his parents’ basement. As Scambos’ interests evolved, he gradually realized that although astronomy and chemistry were both very hands-on disciplines at first, the deeper he delved, the more esoteric they became. Instead, he found himself drawn to geology, especially after discovering how much he enjoyed fieldwork.

11 Mar 2016

Geomedia: Books: The danger of anti-data ideologies is explored in 'Denying Science'

I see science denialism as a pernicious problem in modern society. It was with some anticipation, then, that I recently read John Grant’s 2011 book “Denying Science.” In it, I found a mix of indignation and new information, as well as a lot with which I was already familiar.

02 Mar 2016

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