Reasoning vs. rationalizing

Science is important.  It is something that both Kelly and I take quite seriously. It’s one if the reasons Kelly has worked as a science educator for a decade, and one of the reasons why even some of our hobbies involve a lot of science.   We feel quite passionately about it.

And it’s also why we both get so frustrated about the problems with scientific literacy in America – demonstrated by things like this survey that shows the gaps between scientists and the public when it comes to views of science.  And if you want to see scientific ignorance displayed in all its factually-challenged glory, and I mean some truly godawful stuff,  just turn on a television.

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Calling all Boston area Rock and Mineral geeks!

The Boston Mineral Club is having our annual Auction on January 10th.  (That’s this Saturday for those of you following along at home.)  Geoff and I are rock nerds.  I’ve been a huge rock nerd since I was a kid and I’m THRILLED that I’m finally going to have a chance to go to a live gem and mineral auction in person.

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Another maritime mystery closer to being solved

The Canadian government announced yesterday that it had discovered one of the lost ships from Franklin’s Expedition, the British Arctic exploration voyage led by Captain Sir John Franklin that disappeared in the 1840s.  While it is still unknown whether the shipwreck is that of HMS Erebus or HMS Terror, it is pretty clear that one of the two vessels has been found by an remotely operated underwater vehicle using side-scan sonar.

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Don’t call up Bruce Willis yet, but…

a fairly sizable asteroid has been spotted on a trajectory that gives it a fairly decent chance (about 1 in 4,000)  of striking the Earth.   That is actually better odds than the chance you will get killed in a traffic accident any time you get in a car (1 in 6,700).  At one point the odds were actually being calculated at 1 in 300.  So this particular object has raised a few eyebrows, to put it mildly.    Enough that some people think it would be time to call the drilling crew together.   Or something.

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Well-preserved wreck in Baltic Sea to be explored

The 16th century Swedish shipwreck Mars the Magnificent will now be explored thanks to a grant by the National Geographic Society.  Like similar wrecks (the Vasa comes to mind immediately) the wreck of the Mars is expected to yield all sorts of artifacts and give historians and archaeologists a detailed view of what is a fairly famous ship in the history of Sweden.

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Speaking of rocks…

Yes, I guess you could say that geology is a hobby of ours.  There are certainly some aspects of geology that interest me more than others, just as there are some that interest Kelly more.   And one of the things about geology that really really interests me is studying impact craters, and there have been some interesting developments in recent weeks.

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Science is awesome!

I read a story on Salon recently about a new mineral that was discovered in Western Australia: putnisite.  Although it will never be a gemstone that Kelly can make into jewelry (it’s beautiful – purple with a pink streak – but its Mohs hardness is only 1.5-2), putnisite is amazing because while most minerals fall into a “family” of common minerals, this is one is truly unique.  In addition to calcium, sulphur, oxygen, hydrogen, and carbon, it also contains both strontium and chromium, and the chemical combination of all these in putnisite make it unlike any of the other 4,000 or so known minerals in the world.  It is “completely unique and unrelated to anything.”

How cool is that?

-Geoff