Sunday, January 30, 2011

Ternary Diagram of Geologists, Balmy winters, Fizzing Kim Chi

Recently, there have been solicitations for GeoUnion T shirt designs. We've been trying to make a T shirt for a while, but due to lack of design submissions, it dead-ended until now. Here's my contribution:
Whether or not it makes it to a T shirt, I still like it and think it's a tongue-in-cheek joke on the different types of earth scientists out there :-)

In other news, Houston's "winter" has been gradually warming up in the past week or two. Today and yesterday it was over 70 degrees! Yesterday, in particular, was one of those strangely warm, Southern winter days with brooding rainclouds and a subtle chill in the air. Such days always feel wildly anomalous to me, even though I've lived in this neck of the woods for 6 years already. Something deep down inside me feels a connection to the Northern snow, almost a missing for its familiarity.

Hmm... one more random thing. I had a jar of kimchi in the fridge that I bought 3 weeks ago. There's no expiration date on kimchi as far as I remember (I guess it's a sort of "controlled rotting" of cabbage anyway). But, the interesting thing was that when I opened it, the kimchi juice fizzed and bubbled! I wonder if I hadn't opened it, would the lid have eventually blown off from the pressure of fermentation inside?

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Blue on a Matilija Poppy

Photographed back in July in the Sierras. The petals of the Matilija poppy fascinated me with their crinkledness.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Rock Collection

I've finally gotten around to displaying some of my better rock, mineral, and fossil specimens, thanks to getting a big new bookshelf that had some leftover space. I still have lots more rocks and minerals... wrapped in tissue paper in shoeboxes. Of the ones shown below, I collected all the rocks and a few of the minerals myself. The anorthosite (sort of a rare rock on Earth.. but common on the Moon!) is from Laramie, WY. The green stuff in it is actinolite. The basalt is from Craters of the Moon, ID (technically not legally collected... but it was SUCH a beautiful piece). The Eocene leaf fossils are from Wyoming. The mafic enclave is from the Sierra Nevada. The staurolites are from western Alabama... undergrad structural geology trip. The chert is from Utah, although chert is everywhere (including even Texas). The lepidolites are from the Harding Pegmatite in New Mexico. The Nautilus is not yet a fossil.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

"Scrapbooking" late at night

I've been neglecting my "scrapbook" for a while... but I keep a running list of things I need to put in there, gathered from various notebooks and scratch papers I carry around with me. One such topic is long overdue - the basic workings of an ICPMS. Although I have several notebook pages filled with scribbled notes, handouts, etc. on this topic, I still haven't had a chance to distill out the essence from these notes into the Scrapbook. I even set aside 5 blank pages way back last year especially for it... but got sidetracked with other minor little topics (such as, the liquidus phase diagram for Leucite-Quartz-Diopside. Have you ever wondered why it looks so bizarre, with a teeny field of K-spar and an enormous field of Di? It's because Leucite is the "Anti-Quartz"). Resolution for 2011 - draw more, don't just cut and paste (although that's OK for some things, like abstracts, and maps). I find that even copying a technical drawing helps me understand the machine better. Below: how a mass spectrometer works, in one page (or, how I spent my Friday evening - but it was so much more fun than doing other "fun" stuff!).

Other analytical instruments... coming soon.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Breathtaking pyroxenite

With our lab's brand new Nikon Coolscan film scanner, we can now obtain 4,000 dpi scans of thin sections. Here is a pyroxenite I scanned today. Whereabouts undisclosed so you won't go looking and plunder them all!

Breathtaking, isn't it?