Saturday, February 20, 2010

Mars!

What happens when you take super-accurate HiRISE data and make a movie out of it?

Via Wired: Science
So this is a really accurate view of the surface of Mars, in particular the Athabasca Valles, including an interestingly eroded volcanic cone and some dunes. How awesome is that?

HiRISE (High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment) is a camera aboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter that takes incredibly detailed images - down to a scale of 1m. It also takes stereo images to create these DEMs (Digital Elevation Model). Also, the public is allowed to submit requests of areas to be imaged, so it's a touch democratic. If you want a gorgeous desktop, google HiRise.

The HiRISE DTM page the animation was based on
A series of interesting HiRISE images regarding volcanic processes on Mars
NASA's HiRISE page
A brief description of Mars volcanism

Also, googleMars is awesome, but jMars offers a much more technical approach, even to the layperson. As this program is used by actual Mars scientists, it can be quite complex, so a gander through the tour/tutorial pages is helpful.

Spider Fossil

165 Million Year Old Spider Fossil Found

This picture completely blows my mind, because the fossil is of such great quality. As a layman, I frequently look at fossils in situ and scratch my head. But this fellow is undeniably a spider. And here's why:
"Spider fossils from this period are rare, because the arachnids’ soft bodies don’t preserve well. The pristine fossil pictured in these photos was probably created when the spider was trapped in volcanic ash. The ultrafine clay particles squashed the spider without breaking up the animals’ delicate cuticle as more coarse sediment would, Selden said."
Read the rest of the article here. It also discusses the spider's evolution (or lack thereof) and change in habitat, possibly relating to previous climate change. It's an incredible find, even if you're not too keen on spiders.

Fun Fact: At a young age, my mother taught me about scientific classification, and the arthropod family. Noting the close relationship between spiders and crustaceans at a young age has kept me from ever, ever wanting to eat them.
That, and the funny smell.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Freeze Your Computer

Some pictures from the last few months, in roughly chronological order:
My mum's post-Thanksgiving table.
It's becoming difficult to remember who the baby is.
These days, I hardly eat anything I don't cook myself. Hence, if I don't want to cook, I don't eat, and my pants are starting to not fit.
As a early christmas present, my parents got me a new computer! Thank god, as the old one was taking ~15min. to boot!
Discovery Park with the geology club.
The Olympia Formation, as seen at Discovery Park.

Trains on the way to Eugene.
The Eugene train station bathroom combines some of my favorite tile patterns: hexagonal honeycomb, greek key, wee squares, and subway.
A farm in the fog, on the way to the caves.
Learning lessons the hard way: don't mix concrete with bare hands.
Bought my dream car for $500! Granted, it needs a new fuel pump. But it's so exciting!
Knit woolen wristwarmers, in the only variegated yarn I've ever really liked. Learned how to use double pointed needles!
Gave up on carrying around a stylish messenger bag, and instead acquired a 32liter daypack for $50 (1/2 price!) It carries everything imaginable, without giving me scoliosis.

Geology and Politics

This is the niftiest blog post I've read in awhile:
The Relationship Between Today's Political Map, the Economy, and Geological Time
It simply demonstrates the connection between decreasing sea levels, slave ownership, and a line of counties in the South that voted for Obama, not McCain. It's based off this article, and both are well worth a read.