Thursday, January 31, 2013
Sunday, February 26, 2012
I’m taking a Java class right, and having a little bit of trouble wrapping my head around the concept of object-oriented programming and how to implement it. So, I asked my dad for some advice, and this is how he responded:
"Object oriented thinking:
Imagine a planet, any planet. How do you describe a planet? These are the properties.
The planet has it's own gravity,
It's own sky color,
It's own funny looking, sexy locals - if it is a 'star trek' type of planet
It's own monsters.
What do you do on the planet? These are the methods.
Look at the sky,
Chase the women
Run from the monsters
So Capt Kirk lands on Boiseity, what does he find?
Gravity - normal
Rainfall - dry
Local women - nice clean cut Mormons
Local monsters – chipmonks
These are the unique properties of the Boiseity planet.
Now Capt. Kirk lands on CapitolHillia, what does he find?
Gravity - .95 earth normal
Rainfall - wet
Local women - grunge
Local monsters – panhandlers
CapitolHillia and Boiseity are both unique objects of class Planet.”
Fighting aliens makes so much more sense than withdrawing funds from a bank account.
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
Since I’m a geo-baby, I thought I’d talk about what I love about being a geoscience student!
I originally studied classical literature, philosophy, math, and science at a liberal arts college. While that experience has deeply shaped me, the most important thing it taught me was what I really want to study – the world! Geology is the best way to study the world that I’ve found, so I happily switched majors!
1. Real facts.
2. Whiteboards > ChalkboardsThe movement of Mars, over 16 years, according to the folks before Kepler.The Earth revolves around the Sun.
The “heavenly spheres” are the troposphere, the stratosphere, the mesosphere, and the thermosphere. Sometimes the magnetosphere and the galaxy come up. None of them play music, or have anything to do with the divine.
Chalk dust gets everywhere: in your nose, in your hair, on your pants. It may look hip and old-school, but it’s kind of a pain.3. Arts & Crafts Time.
Whiteboards, on the other hand, only leave black smidges on your fingers.
Recently, I was talking to a computer science student about how much I like graphics. His response? “But I thought you were into, like, geology.”
But the geosciences are filled with pretty pictures! There are nifty geologic maps and psychedelic polarized thin sections. There are colorful charts and graphic graphs. And, of course, the “reference photos.”
I love listening to people explain things I know nothing about! It’s a great way to explore the field, learn more about the world, and make connections to things I’m studying. I’m most comfortable when I’m a little bit confused.5. Fancy equipment.
Or not so fancy equipment.I can’t even properly pronounce magnetometer, but I’ve used one (briefly.) Seismometers are currently blowing my mind, and I’m really excited for the vibrating trucks while studying active seismology. I also love using fancy technology like remote sensing satellite data and excessive computing power. The toys are awesome.
Homework for a liberal arts major:7. The people are nice.
Homework for a geoscience major:
One of these will result in a Vitamin D deficiency.
The other will result in a cold beer.
Tough call, right?
Being pretentious is a prerequisite for a philosophy scholar. Sometimes, they’re lovely, fascinating people. Frequently, they’re mean as snakes, twice as funny looking, and think they’re the coolest thing to wear tight pants.
Geologists are good-natured, helpful, and handy in a pinch. Also, they’re generally gorgeous – the men are handsome and handy, the women are beautiful and highly competent. I think it’s all that Vitamin D.8. The scope.
Plus, it’s just tough to be pretentious while “examining the sagebrush.”
From isotopic changes in the range of parts per billion, to the rise of immense mountain chains hundreds of kilometers long; from the earliest creation of the planet, to the future movements of continents; from the relatively slow movement of water through a watershed, to dramatic pyroclastic deposition over the course of a few minutes; from the glacial moraine in my parent’s backyard, to Arizona-sized volcanoes on Mars – geology encompasses all of these.9. Real-life applications.
How is that not awesome, in the truest sense of the word?
I LOVE the thought that, someday, I’ll be qualified to search for oil, reconstruct the tectonic history of the planet, understand hydrological changes in caves, analyze earthquakes to see the structure of the planet, make discoveries about cryovolcanism on Enceladus, or help predict volcanic eruptions.
Or even just be able to pick up a rock from the river, and know what it is, and where it’s been. That’ll be pretty cool too!
10. The fine line between “work” and “vacation.”
Work:Exploring a’a lava at Craters of the Moon.
11. New things to learn. Everyday.
Today, I learned how to analyze stress and fracturing in rocks using a wacky thing called a “Mohr’s Circle Diagram.” Then I learned about constructing three-dimensional objects just using calculus. Then I learned how to make Java applets. Then I learned how to find different rock types via satellite. Then I came home and read about ocean islands and mantle plumes.
In one day. Who knows what crazy business we’re going to learn tomorrow?
I’m sure it’s going to be incredible.
Sunday, January 22, 2012
|This is the seismograph from Wupatki, Arizona. There weren't many closer, and I quite liked how clearly the P-wave and S-wave showed up in this one.|
On February 28, at 10:54 am, I had just been picked up from school, and we were driving in my mother’s 1870s powder-blue Camaro towards The Big Swoopy Hill. All of a sudden, the car swayed back and forth, the dashboard tilting up and down. It looked like that One Time My Dad Took the Car on the Potholed Forest Service Road Where People Go Mudding.
“Mum, do we have a flat?” I asked.
“No, I don’t think so. We might have run over a downed branch.” My mum looked in the rearview mirror. “Although I don’t see anything behind us…”
“Mum, look at the lady parked on the side of the road!”
“She’s getting back in her car, she’s ok.”
After we got back home, my mother worked on some legal briefs, and I worked on my report on deciduous trees. After an hour or so, the phone rang.
My mum picked it up. “Hello?”
“Are you ok? Is the house ok?” my dad asked, frantically.
“We’re fine… Are you?”
“There was an earthquake!”
We walked around the house, and, sure enough, some of the vases on top of the piano had shifted a little. The dishes had moved.
The next day at school, my classmates regaled me with tales of crawling under their plastic-topped desks, all the while imagining the back half of the portable buildings sinking into the ground. One girl even declared that she’d thought it was the Rapture.
|This is from a school near Nisqually. Our school only had a couple lights fall down, and was otherwise fine.|
|Well, I tried.|
|A fault plane solution for the Nisqually earthquake. The little circles are dilatations, and the little stars are compression - so you can see how part of the plate extended, compressing the material to either side.|
|A path near the State Capitol. One fellow looks depressed at the thought of all the work he's going to have to do. The other fellow looks like this is the coolest thing to ever happen - definitely a geologist.|
|Highway 101 - nobody really uses the right lane, do they?|
|The exterior of the State Capitol. You can see that some of the bricks are separating from the facade. The building was shut down for quite some time as it was examined for structural stability.|
|Looters run rampant in downtown Seattle.|
These fellows actually just found a co-worker's purse amidst the wreckage of their van.
|"Pssh, I've got nine lives, I ain't scared."|
|Some fellows braving aftershocks to repair the Viaduct so people can tempt fate.|
|A sand boil in Olympia.|
|Worst sweeping job ever.|
In addition to the websites linked through the above photos, here are some websites with information on the Nisqually earthquake:
Some Observations of Geotechnical Aspects of the February 28, 2001, Nisqually Earthquake in Olympia, South Seattle, and Tacoma, Washington
Geodetic Information from Central Washington University
The Nisqually Earthquake Information Clearinghouse, housed by the University of Washington
GPS Analysis of Olympia Quake from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
The Pacific Seismic Network's Nisqually Earthquake Page
USGS's Preliminary Earthquake Report
Washington State Department of Natural Resource's Nisqually Earthquake Page
Identifying the Rupture Plane of the 2001 Nisqually, Washington, Earthquake
A Video Taken Inside Microsoft During the Earthquake
KOMO News Broadcast from February 28, 2001
Car image: http://bit.ly/x4x9RL
This video made me laugh so hard I cried. It's ridiculous!
Friday, November 25, 2011
In the past, I’ve waxed poetically (or, at least waxed on endlessly) about the beauty of the eastern Snake River Plain. But the more metropolitan western section is also quite lovely, especially in the fall!
The whole western Snake River Plain at a lower elevation than the eastern half (check out this map from geology.com), which creates a warmer, more temperate climate than the western portion (about ~10 degrees difference.) This makes a great environment for agriculture, and gives the eastern section the nickname “The Banana Belt.”
The name “Boise” is a bit disputed, but the word derives from the from the French “Le Bois,” or, “the trees.” Boise is situated in a wooded river valley, while the surrounding plain is fairly sparsely vegetated with sagebrush.
I’ve never lived in a place with so many deciduous trees – Seattle has them, but the leaves quickly become sodden with rain. It’s quite lovely to walk along the bike path and crunch the leaves.
There’s also some scenic construction equipment. (I’m quite fond of large, colorful machinery, frankly.)