Thursday, September 30, 2010

Astronomer dispenses with the scientific method...

and leaps to an unsupported conclusion:  '100 percent' chance for life on newly found planet?  More technical article here: First "Potentially Habitable" Planet Announced.

Indeed, why bother with actually doing the hard science when one can generate sensational headlines with a ridiculous proclamation made with no evidence whatsoever?  For the record, this is what it would take:  If There's Life on Alien Planet Gliese 581g, How Do We Find It?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Twittering nitwits forecast earthquake...

in southern California:  Thursday's Predicted Earthquake Downgraded to Hoax.  The USGS responded appropriately with a tweet of its own: 
"Seeing many tweets on quake prediction. Folks, let's set the record one can predict one"

Monday, September 27, 2010

Aliens have landed at EWU...

and here's the indisputable evidence captured on film, er, digitally:
It's not clear if the Visitors are posing as students (or faculty?) and infiltrating classes.  Perhaps the anticipatory stance recently taken by the Vatican and UN for greeting ET were appropriate after all?

Actually, this is an advertising stunt to promote the library fundraiser on 16 October 2010 at EWU's Kennedy Library, seen behind the landing craft in the image above.

EWU Geology Club...

will meet every Tuesday at 11:30 am in SCI 118 during fall term.

UN to appoint ET ambassador...

in preparation for first contact with aliens:  United Nations to Appoint Alien Ambassador?

This is interesting, especially following the recent announcement that a papal astronomer would baptize an alien if it/he/she asked him to do so.  Is there something happening that we don't know about?

Like Fox Mulder, I want to believe.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

How to fossilize yourself...

for future generations.

I've always thought that being entombed by a turbidity current in a deep (anoxic) basin would favor long-term preservation.

Friday, September 24, 2010

What I'm reading...

right now:  Bear Attacks - the Deadly Truth by J. G. Shelton.

Hat tip:  EG

RELATED:  Zucchini Handy for Fending Off Bear Attack

Saturnian aurora...

captured by Cassini in this false-color image of the south polar region of the ringed planet (click to enlarge).  Read more about the new views here.

It's field work Friday...

again, and I anticipate finding the lowest groundwater levels in the Rathdrum Prairie aquifer for the year when I make my measurements in six monitoring wells later today.

UPDATE:  Equipment problems prevented me from making a full round of measurements.  I'll fix the sounder and try again in two weeks.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Trip reports describing my voyage...

this summer across the Bering Sea with Zegrahm Expeditions are now on-line:

Tonight's Harvest Moon accompanies...

the change in seasons: Watch Out for the Super Harvest Moon.

The autumnal equinox occurs this evening, at 8:09 PDT, when we make the transition from northern summer to fall.

The fully assembled 1:72 scale model...

of the Space Shuttle Discovery is nothing less than spectacular as it sits in my office, a birthday gift from my nieces and nephew from earlier in the year. The detail is quite impressive, and there are a number of see-through components.

Very cool. Thanks, kids!

Monday, September 20, 2010

It's back to my day job...

this week after six months of active travel and high adventure. Classes resume this Wednesday at EWU and I always enjoy the beginning of fall term, catching up with faculty colleagues, chatting with returning energized students, and the resumption of a predictable schedule.

Important things to do today: attend a department meeting, prepare the syllabus for strat/sed, and get a haircut. Don't want to overdo it.

Papal astronomer would baptize an alien...

if it asked him to do so. The pope's astronomer said that "an alien – 'no matter how many tentacles it has' – could have a soul."

Hmm. I wonder if he was subliminally influenced by the Flying Spaghetti Monster when he made the statement?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Opportunity passes halfway point...

on its long trek to Endeavour Crater on Mars earlier this month. Click on the image to load a larger version where you can more clearly discern the rim of the destination crater off in the distance.

"Crowdsourcing" the detection...

of earthquakes: Your Computer as an Earthquake Sensor.

Doing geology in a war zone...

in Afghanistan: The Treasure of the Safit Chir.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Sunspots could soon disappear...

for decades. Key bit:
"Sunspot formation is triggered by a magnetic field, which scientists say is steadily declining. They predict that by 2016 there may be no remaining sunspots, and the sun may stay spotless for several decades. The last time the sunspots disappeared altogether was in the 17th and 18th century, and coincided with a lengthy cool period on the planet known as the Little Ice Age."

Friday, September 17, 2010

It was a Pintlerpalooza...

in western Montana the last few days when I rendezvoused with L. Pinter and his two sons, M. and B. Pintler, camping and fishing at Pintler Lake at the edge of the Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness. LP is the great grandson of C.E. Pintler who homesteaded the Big Hole Valley north of Wisdom, Montana, and for whom the wilderness is named.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Early winter arrives at Anaconda...

where snow dusts the mountains above the nation's largest superfund site in western Montana (click to enlarge). The historic 585 foot high brick smelter stack can be seen standing in the left center part of the image.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Wasatch 100...

is a challenging high altitude endurance run along the rocky spine of the Wasatch Range between Kaysville and Midway, Utah. Here's a shot of the terrain where the cumulative elevation gain over the entire course is about 27,000 ft:

Rachel and I supported one of her friends in the event the past two days, providing water, food, etc. at several aid stations along the course, with Rachel running the last 25 miles as a pacer.

RELATED: Here's Rachel's latest column in the October 2010 issue of Runner's World on the joys of trail running: Ode to Dirt. And a previous article about running the Grand Canyon rim-to-rim-to-rim in the June 2010 issue of Running Times: The Colossal Crack.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The vista from Mount Peale...

in the La Sal range in Utah is nothing less than breathtaking, especially after the lung-busting ascent to the summit (12,721 feet) across steep and loose scree slopes (click to enlarge):

This panorama is shot from west (left side) to northeast (right side) and features Mount Tukuhnikivats, the Spanish/Moab valley, Mount Mellenthin and Mount Waas to name just a few of the landmarks.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Getting high in the La Sals...

today with Rachel, our objective, the the summit of the tallest peak in the entire range:
It took us exactly two hours to make the 2,700 foot climb of Mount Peale from La Sal Pass, much of it on huge broken blocks of trachyte porphyry:
Here's the view northwest towards Moab (the green oasis in the bottom of the distant valley in center) from the peak of this laccolithic mountain:
The descent was only marginally faster moving down the sharp-edged scree:

Monday, September 6, 2010

Solinst equipment is entirely unreliable...

for monitoring groundwater, as I've just discovered that two more of their LTC loggers have died while deployed in the field. That makes a total of six of eight Solinst loggers that have ceased to function and resulted in months of lost data, a failure rate of 75% based on my experience. Sheesh.

Here's a blog post about their earlier failures, and it doesn't involve battery problems. In addition, I got no satisfaction from their technical support staff, and valuable research data was irretrievably lost.

They have competitors. Use them.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Utah's highest waterfall...

captured in action by Moab photographer Tom Till. (Spectacular image at the link.)

Recent intense rainfall provided runoff to the normally dry channel, creating the ephemeral cascade.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Peekaboo Trail...

in the Needles is described as a spectacular hike with "steep slopes and nearby cliff edges that make this a challenging route." So off we went this morning, crossing both Squaw and Lost Canyons, and finally dropping into Salt Creek Canyon:
We ultimately arrived at the end of the long trail, at a small arch and fantastic pictograph panel:
If you look closely, you may notice older Barrier Canyon style paintings behind the most recent:
No, Rachel isn't boasting about how high she can count, but just simply providing a scale for the image at my request, and being expressive:

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Canyon country camping...

is downright pleasant, especially in the summer, when it's usually dry with warm and starry nights. Here's our home for two nights on BLM land a short distance outside the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park:
After our hike out to the confluence overlook, Rachel spent the latter part of the day in the hammock, reading her Kindle:
And to prove that I was indeed present, here's my usual self portrait, taken at dusk:

The diffusion boundary...

at the confluence of the Green (entering on the left) and Colorado Rivers, the product of differing suspended sediment loads, is clearly seen at low water:
Here's a telephoto shot of the mixing boundary that completely disappears less than a mile downstream:

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Explorations of Davis Canyon...

just days after heavy rains made it more challenging than usual, as the route into the canyon follows a system of normally dry arroyos:
Recent flash flooding significantly reconfigured the drainages, and kept us from making it all the way to the boundary of Canyonlands National Park. However, beautifully preserved current ripples were everywhere:
We hiked into the Park and up onto the slick rock, finding horizontal burrows weathering out of the Cedar Mesa Sandstone in dramatic relief:
Evidence of the early Anasazi culture are abundant in this part of the Colorado Plateau, and see if you can pick Rachel out of this image of a panel of pictographs:

Signs along the road...

a few miles south of Moab, Utah, painted on the Entrada Sandstone, and impossible to overlook:
Upon investigation, the perfect indestructible vehicle for geological field work and dinosaur bone collecting was found parked there: