01 October, 2006

One year on

A small problem with my new flat's electrics prevented me from exactly marking the anniversary of the post that started my little blog. After a shaky start, I have been much better in recent months at producing posts semi-regularly - at least, when I haven't been gallivanting off to some internet-deprived corner of Europe.

As befits my blog’s name, I’ve drifted a bit about through the many different disciplines which fall under the aegis of Earth Sciences. My interest in planetary geology has led to discussions of possible subsurface water on Mars, the past geological history of Titan, and, during the Pluto controversy this summer, how Ceres might be a worthy planet after all (sadly the IAU didn’t agree).

Back on Planet Earth, I’ve looked at the uncertainties behind the doom and gloom headlines about the collapse of the thermohaline circulation, and how even if it happened it wouldn’t be the Day After Tomorrow. I’ve also fixated a bit on the poor understanding of the science, and particularly the limits of earthquake and volcano prediction, one of the items in my list of annoying misconceptions in Geology leading to posts on a rather odd proposed earthquake precursor, the blend of luck and expertise whichled to an apparently accurate earthquake alert in China, and seasonal variations in the frequency of volcanic eruptions. And, in the run up to the UK government releasing a new, improved energy review, I took a skeptical look at their new-found enthusiasm for nuclear power, one of the valid objections to which isn’t that we’re running out of uranium.

Another thing I have noticed is that other than a short introduction to my own subdiscipline, paleomagnetism, I haven’t really talked about my own research, which is definitely something I want to rectify in a few months.

Whilst waiting around in Southampton to defend my PhD thesis, I’ve also been employed as lab-skivvy and teaching cover for my supervisor. It’s not always been easy, especially when I’ve been marking some rather poor exams, but it’s given me some important insights into the art of teaching science. And despite the odd moan, my position has had its compensations - a field trip or two, for example.

And, like most scientists nowadays, I’ve fretted over the rise of irrational thinking, particularly in the form of ‘Intelligent Design’, creationism with added nudges and winks. It seems the UK is not immune; but despite the warning signs, it appears that things are not as bad as they are across the Atlantic.

Of course, the fact I've been writing stuff says nothing about whether it's worth reading. That judgement, of course, is out of my hands.

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