Sunday, August 21, 2016

To my Dad on His 100th Birthday

(Dad and I, Mid-1977)

Trying to think of some worthy things to say on my Dad's 100th birthday.  He passed away a few days before Thanksgiving in 1980, due to heart problems.  I am posting it here, as he (and my Mom) were influential in nurturing my enjoyment of the outdoors and nature.  He was pretty generous, an avid photographer, amateur historian, logical,...and he loved learning new things.

I am Thankful for these things that he taught me or influenced me towards...
  • How to drive a 4x4 (without getting myself into more trouble, something he said 4x4s were good for).
  • How to drive a manual transmission (I had a lot of help from my cousin Alice Beth Royce, in her Karman Ghia, too).
  • How to turn a Jeep and trailer around (I did it on a slope, but when I returned to the house, I stalled the engine while parking and forgot to turn off the ignition.  It sort of melted the points together.  Oops.)
  • He wasn't into hunting or fishing, but he did enjoy being outdoors in our garden, hiking, panning gold, hunting for arrowheads, picking blackberries, looking for beech trees with Cherokee carvings,...
  • He wasn't really a sports nut, which was good, as I wasn't big enough or athletic enough for baseball or football.  I am sure that saved him some frustrations.  When I gravitated to NASCAR, he took me to my first four races (1967-1970).
  • He taught me the basics of plumbing, soldering, carpentry, painting, how to use a table saw and wood lathe without destroying myself,...  How to rebuild a car's starter,...
  • He taught me the importance of firearms safety and responsibilities.
  • He made damn sure my sister and I knew how to avoid Poison Ivy.
  • He influenced my interest in photography and Dr. Gale Bishop taught me the specifics (Thanks, Doc.)
  • He (and others) taught me the importance of respecting one's elders.
  • He wouldn't let us throw trash out the windows of our cars nor in our creek, while in the garden.
  • In an odd way, he inspired my epic 1974 road trip with my college roommate.  We covered 8,800 miles in 4 weeks.  The year before, on a family vacation, while at Mesa Verde, CO, I saw stacks of Coors Beer in the camp store.  Having heard that Coors was "nectar of the gods", I asked if I could get a sixpack to "take back to my friends" (haha).  Being a nondrinker, he thought about it for 3 seconds and said "No".  As he was pretty generous, I was "not going to die on that hill", but I did start conspiring towards a western trip the following year, to get my case of Coors and go to Yellowstone (which I did).  (Where did that self confidence go?)
  • His love of reading and learning new things influenced my interest in talk radio (WRNG) when it started becoming part of the Atlanta market.  After adapting to personal styles, I think he would have enjoyed the back and forth of debate.

    Other considerations:
  • I am glad he had the confidence in me to let me leave home for grad school in El Paso.  I am sorry that he didn't live to see me finish.
  • I am sorry he didn't live to see his four grandkids,  I think he would have been a good grandpa.  That is why my grandsons and my sister's granddaughters are so precious to us.
  • While he might be horrified at some (many) aspects of modern culture, I think he would have loved researching family and military history on the internet and its facilitating communications with family members.
  • After the learning curve, he would have loved the versatility of digital photography.  

    There is so much more to say.  I miss him (and Mom) and think of them often.  [I may add more as "the spirit moves me".]

Thursday, April 7, 2016

A Worthy Addition to Your Science Library

Minerals of Georgia: Their Properties and Occurrences, by Robert B. Cook and Julian C. Gray is a worthy addition to the libraries of Geologists and Rockhounds alike.

Jose Santamaria, Executive Director of the Tellus Science Museum in Cartersville served as the editor of this new book. 

As a link-up to my new YouTube channel, I will be posting more book info here.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Future Plans

Plans are in the works for a YouTube channel "@geosciblog".  It's just a matter of sitting down in front of my little video camera, getting over "stage fright", and pushing that "on" button.

And the YouTube channel will be linked here to provide additional opportunities for science education.

It all starts with a dream and a "shoe string" budget.

I will be back to offer some planned subject titles.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

A Spring Renewal

 For a variety of personal reasons (maybe to be discussed later - in part), my science blogging has been neglected for the past year.
I intend to change that.  That is why I posted this image of Trout Lilies, an early-Spring wildflower of the Georgia Piedmont and Blue Ridge.  These particular flowers were at Mt. Arabia in DeKalb County.  It took me three years of efforts to get this photo, due to missed flowering seasons and camera malfunctions.  When I finally got this photo, thankfully the ground was dry as I had to lay down to properly photograph these recumbent flowers.  Getting that flower photographed was on my "Bucket List".
Other plants on my Photo Bucket List include Wild Ginseng, Indian Squawroot, perhaps re-photographing Pink Lady Slipper and a few others, now that I have a better camera.
Anyway, the purpose of this blog is to impart information on science subjects and other subjects which may have subtle connections and learning opportunities that can be applied to the study of science.  In an effort to shake the "winter blues", I intend to be busier here.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Just an update...

Notice:  A significant number of posts (mid-2011 to early-March of 2015) have notations of "previously posted on such-and-such date", i.e., these were rescued from a now-retired blog of mine.  Here is given notice that unless the prior date is needed for pertinence, it will be retired from the titles - gradually.  This is being done to simplify the titles, not for any nefarious, fraudulent reasons. 

IOW, these were posted over a period of several years (2005 - 2008) on the other blog and I started copying/moving them to this newer blog.  I had put time and passion into these posts.  If any of them have now-disconnected internal links to the retired-blog, I will be fixing those, too.  Gradually.

Thank you for your time, visits, and thoughtful, constructive comments.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Geo-Tutorial I - A Brief Minerals & Rocks Primer

Student geologists generally study (and learn to identify) individual minerals first, before we learn to recognize them as components of rocks.

After we gain a working knowledge of minerals, we usually study igneous rocks second, as those are the original sources of most minerals.

Minerals are naturally occurring, inorganic compounds that are solid at normal atmospheric temperatures. They have orderly internal structures, defined characteristics, and a defined composition (or range of compositions due to ionic substitution), with a few exceptions.

Some minerals are elemental, i.e., the consist of a single element, e.g., diamond - but most are compounds consisting of one or more cations (positive ions) and one or more anions (negative ions).

We classify minerals by their anions, e.g., minerals related to pyrite (FeS2) are called sulfides, usually the anion is S or S2. These can include iron copper sulfides (chalcopyrite), silver sulfides, copper sulfides (cuprite), zinc sulfides (sphalerite), lead sulfide (galena). When sulfur is present in the formative stages of these minerals, whether in the original molten form, or in high-temperature, high-pressure mineralized water - called hydrothermal solutions, and if there are a variety of metals present, it is not unusual to find several different sulfide minerals together in the same ore body. This is the nature of the "massive sulfides" that were mined in the Ducktown, TN area and elsewhere.

The nature of the chemical bond between the cation(s) and the anion affect its chemical and physical and characteristics.

The four minerals in the rock above are all included in the Silicates class, wherein the anion consists of a silicon ion and three or four oxygen ions, which act as a single ion when bonded with a cation. Quartz is chemically an oxide (SiO2), but structurally, it is related to the other silicates. The vast majority of important "rock forming minerals" are silicates. Silicate-dominated igneous rocks range from the dense, iron-rich basalts found in Hawaii to the lighter, quartz/feldspar-rich granites that one sees at Yosemite National Park or Stone Mt., GA.

The term "rock" is a little less precise, as a rock is an aggregate of one or more minerals. We use texture (crystal sizes, mineral ratios, and overall composition) to classify igneous rocks. The rock pictured here is a piece of granitic igneous rock with a pegmatitic (large-crystals) texture and it contains four identifiable minerals. This particular specimen was collected along the Appalachian Trail on the north side of Springer Mt., GA. The biotite mica measures about 1-inch across, horizontally.

The presence of potassium feldspar and quartz identify the rock as granitic, while the relatively large crystal sizes identify the rock as being "pegmatitic". The large grain (or crystal) sizes of this rock are the key to this identification. Pegmatites are irregularly-shaped igneous bodies that fill fracture zones and because of the significant presence of pressurized water in the magma, larger crystals form (in a pegmatite in South Dakota, the lithium mineral Spodumene occurs in crystals 40 feet long). In a former pegmatite mine in Georgia, "books" of muscovite mica 5-feet across were mined.

In igneous rocks, the key to crystal size is the rate of cooling and the quantity of pressurized water. Molten lavas at the surface cool relatively quickly because of their exposure to the atmosphere, thus their crystals are generally small, if they are visible at all. If a lava contains some large crystals, these crystals were already solidified before the lava was erupted. Obsidian forms when a lava flow enters a lake, river, or the ocean and the lava is chilled. The ions are present, but there wasn't time for the mineral bonds to form, resulting in the formation of volcanic glass.

Molten magmas, below the surface solidify more slowly, resulting in larger crystals, especially when more water is present. The crystals of the Elberton Granite, northeast of Athens, GA generally measure 1 - 2 mm and the estimated cooling time for the granite to solidify was 1 million years (laboratory experiments with high-pressure furnaces provide some of this information). In a molten magma, there is a defined progression in which minerals crystallize, as the magma cools, different minerals solidify. The Bowen Reaction Series shows the temperature range in which certain major silicate minerals solidify. Quartz is the last major mineral to solidify and the first to melt. In the above sample, the order is biotite, potassium feldspar, muscovite, and quartz.

Generally, minerals that form as well-defined crystals do so because they have "room to grow", i.e., they are the earlier minerals to solidify in a magma (or lava) so they can grow within the remaining molten material or they have a cavity (a fracture, a gas-bubble, or other void) into which to grow. The later minerals solidify, the less room there is to allow crystal growth.