Taxonomy term

december 2014

Chess as a scientist

I started playing chess again this year. I learned to play early in elementary school, and I finished high school as the captain of our chess team. During college and graduate school I found fewer opponents for friendly games, and I lost my connection with the world of competitive chess. I have since reflected that, thanks to knowledge acquired since high school, I could potentially become much better at the game than I was then, so I recently set out to find a local chess club at which to dust off and maybe even improve on my past ability. I found a club near my home that features a number of players much better than I, and their willingness to share their knowledge has already helped my game tremendously.

05 Dec 2014

Crystal ball science: In the energy sector, follow the money in 2015

Five years ago this month, in these pages, I and a number of other contributors looked deep into our crystal balls to predict what the following year might bring. This year, I thought I’d try it again. As I did then, I’ll add this caveat now: Due to the intertwined relationship of energy with every sector in the economy and the complicated behavior of commodity prices and financial markets, only a fool would be bold enough to put pen to paper to add his or her predictions about energy to the permanent written record. I am one such fool.

05 Dec 2014

Family inspiration for my career(s) in transdisciplinary science

I have been fortunate to spend the last 31 years working for an organization that has allowed me to make multiple career shifts across earth science disciplines and to collaborate with people in fields well beyond the earth sciences. Many inspirational colleagues have guided me along this transdisciplinary science path, but perhaps my biggest source of inspiration has been my family.

04 Dec 2014

Walking - and mentoring - on the wild side

Last summer, I ventured into the Santa Cruz Mountains, southwest of San Jose, Calif., to spend a week camping with my 11-year-old daughter, Jade. I pushed for the trip for three reasons: First, I wanted to spend some time among the California coast redwoods with Jade. Second, I wanted to attend an “Art of Mentoring” workshop in support of a book I was writing. And third … well, let me get back to that in a minute.
 

04 Dec 2014

Minor miners: A brief reflection on child labor underground

It has been more than a century since one of the first child labor laws in the U.S. raised the minimum age of mineworkers to 12, but some mines in Colorado are still encouraging children to descend into the bowels of the Earth — as tourists now, of course.

03 Dec 2014

What a wonderful world to explore

Exploring this planet is a seminal experience, but my children don’t always see it that way. Over the last year, I was fortunate to travel extensively with my family across Europe, New Zealand, Australia and portions of Southeast Asia. From Croatia’s dazzling coastline and Australia’s dusty Outback to Bali’s mist-clad volcanoes, I immersed myself in dozens of diverse landscapes and numerous cultures. I was privileged to share these encounters with my husband, a fellow geologist, as well as my children — as it turned out, this was not always as enriching an experience for them as it was for us.

03 Dec 2014

I wish I could remember all the things I've forgotten

Not long ago, my husband and I were in the car when a story came on the radio about a big geomagnetic storm that was going to make the Northern Lights visible at much lower latitudes than normal. He turned to me and asked, "Why are the Northern Lights only visible at certain latitudes?" I opened my mouth to answer and nothing came to me. I had to admit that, although at one time I had known the answer, I couldn't remember. It got me thinking about all the things I once knew but have forgotten — as well as about all the things I feel like I should know as a good geoscience-minded individual. Have you ever had that experience?

02 Dec 2014

Mountains beyond mountains

The best perk of being a freelance writer, for me at least, is the flexibility to work from anywhere. Instead of paying rent, I house-sit in the winter and spend spring, summer and fall on the road. Winters are for exploring deserts; summers are for climbing mountains. Two summers ago, I drove all the way to Alaska, my 50th state, and in 2013, I spent the whole summer tagging peaks in southern Colorado.

02 Dec 2014

Beware the list that skews your view

List-making is an almost universal human endeavor. Some of us still scrawl them on paper; some tap them out on virtual sticky notes on phones and computers. Others, using mnemonic devices or sheer willpower, keep track in their heads. (I’m partial to the ink-on-paper medium, though I stray occasionally.) Whatever the case, I don’t know anyone who doesn’t make lists.

01 Dec 2014

Family trips, liberation from lists and other musings from 2014

For our 2014 year-end issue, we decided to continue a new tradition begun last year, once again asking the EARTH editorial team and several of our regular contributors to offer short commentaries on topics that caught their fancy or ideas they’ve been mulling over the course of the year. The topics are often very personal and are quite varied, although many of the contributions seem to tie into one of two themes: lists and family.

01 Dec 2014

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