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john copeland

Geologic Column: May: Nature's forces in collision

Throughout history, May 1 has probably had more festivals and events associated with it than any other day of the year, from celebrations of spring and fertility to a day of protest for workers’ rights.

29 Apr 2016

Geologic Column: The beginning of "time" as we know it

We have many methods for measuring things — volumes, lengths, areas, for example — but we have only one system to measure time. It's based on three astronomical cycles: a day is based on one rotation on our axis; a month is based on one orbit of the moon around Earth; and the year is based on one orbit of Earth around the sun. Our calendar has changed some over the millennia but has remained remarkably constant. 
13 Dec 2015

Geologic Column: Thanksgiving's unsung hero

Thanksgiving as we know it in America today has only been celebrated since President Lincoln declared it a national holiday in 1863, thanks to the entreaties of Sarah Josepha Hale, an influential writer and editor.

13 Nov 2015

Geologic Column: On the Summer Solstice

Today, we can only speculate on the significance that the summer solstice had for our ancestors, but we do know its scientific meaning. The author ruminates on the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, and its place in our annual journey around the sun.
21 Jun 2015

Geologic Column: February 2: A day long celebrated for its seasonal ties

February is the only month not named for a god, a number, or a Roman Emperor. It is named for a Roman festival of purification. Since antiquity, many groups have celebrated February, specifically Feb. 2, honoring everything from a fire goddess to sheep and other furry animals, and much later, church candles and groundhogs. 

02 Feb 2015

Geologic Column: Geography as destiny: How glaciation led to the Civil War

It intrigues me how geography — a product of dynamic processes shaping Earth’s surface — influences our lives, culture and even plays a hand in the affairs of nations. Take, for example, the last glacial maximum, which shaped parts of North America roughly 20,000 years ago, and in doing so contributed to factors that eventually led to the American Civil War.

07 Nov 2014

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