Taxonomy term

ward chesworth

Geologic Column: Over the hills and far away

English author G.K. Chesterton thought that “over the hills and far away” was the most poetic line in all of literature. The tune “Over the Hills and Far Away” mentioned in the nursery rhyme is a traditional British song from the late 17th or early 18th century. It was a siren’s song that promised wonder and adventure beyond the blue horizon. Gwyn Thomas, a fine though neglected Welsh writer, heard the song during his early-20th-century childhood in the Rhondda Valley, the heart of the south Wales coal region. Honeycombed by mines, the Rhondda’s spirit lay at the core of Thomas’ heart and imagination, and he distilled a mordant humor from the dark vibes of the life that he knew there.

10 Apr 2018

Geologic Column: A masochist hikes through the heather

A hike in the Scottish Highlands can be a delightful sojourn or a miserable plod in the rain.

06 Oct 2017

Geologic Column: Alternative history: Earth in a funhouse mirror

If a particular historical event had turned out differently, how might subsequent history have changed? 
18 Aug 2017

Geologic Column: Evolution of an ape-man

From Java Man to Piltdown Man to Nebraska Man to the many incarnations of Tarzan, our views on the “ape-man” have evolved.
12 Apr 2017

Geologic Column: Conscious landscapes: Thinking like a septic tank

Dogs, bats, septic tanks, mountains and lowlands can all be explored through philosophy. Can each have consciousness?
14 Dec 2016

Geologic Column: At the end of the Earth

A trip to Land’s End in Spain with some old friends spurs the author’s thinking about the tectonics of Iapetus, peat bogs that hold clues to ancient climate, and the futility of tilting at windmills.

13 Apr 2016

Geologic Column: A Jurassic romance

What do "Jane Eyre," Bevin Boys and icthyosaur-hunting paleontologists have in common? Reader, I’ll tell you.

12 Feb 2016

Geologic Column: The Rumpelstiltskin Factor

Are you a taxonomic “lumper” or “splitter”? The author ruminates on the meanings and conventions of scientific classification and naming.

21 Apr 2015

Geologic Column: Nature for couch potatoes

Why humans seem to fear nature so much — when we are the ones dominating it — is unclear. However, a glance at how nature and wildlife are portrayed in print and on screen reveals our long history (with some exceptions) of declawing it to make ourselves feel safer.

25 Mar 2015

Geologic Column: Lighting out for the territory

The author contemplates the history of westward expansion into arid lands and wonders if our unwise use of resources in places like the U.S. Southwest will eventually return the land "to the process of geology."

27 Feb 2015

Pages