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Wednesday Wanderings

Today is absolutely gorgeous, so I wandered up to take advantage of the crystal clear skies & great views. Where am I?

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Wednesday Wanderings

I’ll keep with the India theme from last week and choose a few more pictures from the Giant Metre Radio Telescope (GMRT), which I visited last March as part of a whirlwind trip to Bangalore and Pune.  The telescope is located on the Deccan Plateau with the central cluster of antenna on some really lovely property owned by National Centre for Astrophysics (NCRA) and then branching out with a a few antenna up to 25 km away (map of the array).  At the center of the array, they have a heavily watered garden that includes a model of the distribution of the antenna:

model of the GMRT array located next to the central telescope

model of the GMRT array located next to the central telescope

We drove around the property a bit (all dirt roads), but didn’t have time to go and visit the antennas further out.  We did go into the central antenna, which was nicely air conditioned to make sure the electronics worked.  (March in India means that air conditioning is pretty welcome even if you do have to share it with servers.)

Because I was with astrophysicists and engineers, I didn’t have the chance to go and visit the local outcrops of the flood basalt up close and personal, so most of my pictures are of flowers:

just one of the many types of flowers cultivated at GMRT

just one of the many types of flowers cultivated at GMRT

I do have a few “geology” related pictures:

mud cracks in the grounds surrounding GMRT

mud cracks in the grounds surrounding GMRT

part of a rock sculpture in the garden at GMRT

part of a rock sculpture in the garden at GMRT

part of the garden rock sculpture

part of the garden rock sculpture

rock sculpture (?) at GMRT

rock sculpture (?) at GMRT

walls made up of basalt were everywhere

walls made up of basalt were everywhere

Inner courtyard at the research facility at GMRT.  I don't know whether the hexagon paving tiles were a nod to the local geology or not, but I thought they were a cool link to the flood basalts.

Inner courtyard at the research facility at GMRT. I don’t know whether the hexagon paving tiles were a nod to the local geology or not, but I thought they were a cool link to the flood basalts.

I’ve got some more “buildings constructed using cool basalt” pictures from Pune that I’ll share next week :)

 

Wednesday wanderings

Its time to move on from the Italian rocks, but instead of reaching for recent blizzard pictures, I went for a different trip.  I dug out the following picture while working on my lecture notes for igneous rocks because of a student question about the rocks in this area.

where am I?

where am I?

Based on the randomness of where I took this picture, anyone who manages to name 1) what the picture is of and 2) where I took the picture from, I’ll send you your choice of type of Girl Scout cookies.

 

Wednesday Wanderings

I’m going to finish off the month with one more picture from my recent Italian sojourn.

One thing I was highly impressed by in Italy with was the huge diversity of rock types used for statues, busts, church altars, flooring material, and building siding. I’ve got pictures on pictures that I took not really of the artwork, but of what it was made out of or what it was sitting on — unfortunately, with the semester starting so quickly after my trip, the majority are still on my D80. Hopefully when things calm down, I’ll be able to show them off a bit. But for now, this is an altar at the Chiesa del Gesu di Roma — note the diversity of rock types just in this one area of the church:

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Ryan at Glacial Till is hosting this month’s Accretionary Wedge: Geo-Brews and Geo-Cocktails. I have two “additions” to the list.

The first came from a spin through the NH state liquor store a number of years ago where I found a bottle of Reyka vodka on sale. The front of the bottle claimed that it was “lava rock filtered” and that was enough for me to plunk down a few dollars to bring home. One of the students I had in my Iceland geology class two years ago actually chose to research the company and learn more about how they used not only basalt rocks to filter the vodka, but also used geothermal energy to run their distillery. And the vodka wasn’t half bad either :) The bottle is still sitting on my bookcase (empty unfortunately).

(Revised 1. February with bottle picture)

The second came from a small shack in downtown Salem, MA last summer. Because of a request from my mom, we ended up in this little hole in the wall in Salem having dinner. While dinner itself wasn’t anything to return for, my evening libation was called a “Great Molasses Flood” and included rum, ginger beer, and molasses. When I teach about viscosity, I end up discussing with my students the “Boston Molasses Flood” which occurred in January 15, 1919 in the North End of Boston. Due to a faulty tank, mixing warm & cold molasses, and drastic changes in temperature that January, a flood of about 2 million gallons of molasses killed 21 and injured 150. This drink was a perfect example of how cold molasses (when they first served it) has a high viscosity, but as the drink warmed up, the molasses became less viscous and started to mix with the rum & ginger beer. It was good, too :) The picture below was taken just after it landed on the table, so the molasses was still cold and can be seen streaking down the inside of the glass:

a "Great Molasses Flood" from the Lobster Shanty in Salem, MA

a “Great Molasses Flood” from the Lobster Shanty in Salem, MA

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I’m a bit late, so we’ll just go with another view of Vesuvius. This time the view is from Castel dell’Ovo (Castle of the Egg):

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There has been an amazing number of scientists from a wide range of fields posting what they do using the “Up-Goer Five Text Editor.”  The editor only allows you to use the thousand most common English words to try and describe anything.  The concept was inspired by the create comic XKCD, which attempted to describe how a Saturn Five rocket worked using the same constrictions.

Anne & Chris have assembled a wide variety of these attempts at Ten Hundred Words of Science.  I’m a bit late to the carnival, but my first attempt during breaks from teaching yesterday seems to have magically disappeared from my computer.  Oh well, here’s attempt number two:

I help students learn how to study all types of rocks. The rocks tell us story about how the world works. We study rocks close to us, in far places, and in space. We also study how water, ice, humans, trees, and animals change the rocks. Most of my students will only take one class about rocks, so I try to give them understanding of how the world works for every day things.

While my students study all rocks, my own interest is in rocks that were made warmer or pressed deep under the ground. What is in rocks will change if they are cold or warm or hot and whether they were pressed a little or a lot. Time is also important for how the rocks will change. Looking at the new rocks can help tell the story of how one place changed over time.
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