Archive for January, 2010

A Wooster Geologist on the 2012 Doomsday Phenomenon: Pseudoscience, Baseless Fears, and the Mysterious Planet Nibiru

January 31st, 2010

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WOOSTER, OHIO–Last week I gave a talk about the coming End of Time scheduled for December 21, 2012.  You may have heard that the Mayan Long Count Calendar ends on the day before the 2012 winter solstice, and that all sorts of global catastrophes have been predicted to mark the event.  I was invited by Ohio State University Mansfield and North Central State College to describe the cataclysmic ideas about 2012 and explore the pseudoscience behind them.  It was a good opportunity to explore the value of science and scientific thinking … and hearty skepticism.

I’ve attached the 2012 lecture here as a PowerPoint file which should open in your browser with a click-through display.  There is no audio, alas, so you’ll just have to imagine the jokes.

You might also be interested in the “living syllabus” of our First-Year Seminar course on “Nonsense“.

Voices of Undergraduate Geoscience Research

January 29th, 2010

Two Wooster geologists, Colin Mennett (’10) and Terry Workman (’10), are featured Voices of Undergraduate Geoscience Research on the Council for Undergraduate Research (CUR) Geoscience Division website. Colin and Terry were interviewed by a CUR Councilor when they presented their research at the 2009 Annual GSA Meeting in Portland, OR. In the podcasts, Colin and Terry discuss the benefits, difficulties, and strategies of working one-on-one with faculty on a year-long Independent Study. If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to do an I.S. at Wooster, here’s your opportunity to hear about a couple of first-hand experiences! Enjoy!

Colin Mennett CUR Interview

Terry Workman CUR Interview

Coin Mennett explains the results of his work in using tree-rings to investigate the Alaskan Cedar Decline.

Colin Mennett explains the results of his work in using tree-rings to investigate the Alaskan Cedar Decline.

Terry Workman and Alena Giesche presented results of their work in Alaska. Their poster entitled DEVELOPING A PROXY RECORD FOR MOISTURE VARIABILITY THROUGH THE HOLOCENE FOR THE KENAI LOWLANDS, ALASKA, KENAI NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE

Terry Workman and Alena Giesche presented results of their work in Alaska. Their poster entitled DEVELOPING A PROXY RECORD FOR MOISTURE VARIABILITY THROUGH THE HOLOCENE FOR THE KENAI LOWLANDS, ALASKA, KENAI NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE

Hazards Blog

January 25th, 2010

Check out the GEOL 105 Blog: http://geol105naturalhazards.voices.wooster.edu/
Get to know the students over the week as they discuss their favorite hazards. Then follow the blog for updated information on current hazard-related events!

Earthquakes and the Power of the Internet

January 7th, 2010

It’s amazing how quickly information moves on the internet. I was working on my Natural Hazards course today when Twitter exploded with news of a magnitude 4.1 earthquake in northern California.

USGS shake map for Jan 7 4.1 magnitude Bay Area earthquake

USGS shake map for Jan 7 4.1 magnitude Bay Area earthquake

Within minutes, the USGS posted details on a website, complete with maps and list of people who reported that they felt it. Incredibly, in just less than an hour after the event, a total of 13,372 people reported this earthquake to the Did You Feel It? website. The number of people who felt it continues to grow.

Given all of the information sources on the web (blogs, organization web pages, Twitter, etc.), it will certainly be a challenge for my Natural Hazards students to keep up with and critically analyze information about current hazard-related events.

Lunar Ilmenite

January 6th, 2010

Lunar Ilmenite: Next Gen Fuel Source Part 1 and Part 2 presented by Andrew Retzler ’11.