SciFi and Science

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I’ve always been a bit of a sci-fi fan – growing up reading Tom Swift, watching with excitement all the early rockets blast off or blow up in the Sputnik Era. The thought of adventure and exploration beyond the bounds of Earth just mede my head spin! Unfortunately, any reading time now for me is usually art or science related. The thought of fiction just seemed too luxurious a way to spend time – at least until now.

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What an escape I have found in RED MARS by Kim Stanley Robinson – the perfect solution for me on those dreary sunless days of winter! Part One of a trilogy, RED MARS chronicles the first settlement on Mars. It’s a great story, well researched, filled with technological wonders, aesthetic and environmental concerns, etc. No surprise I’m enjoying it, given all the wonderful extended descriptions of the geology and landscape.

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Did you know that many scientists today, particularly the younger ones, were influenced into their career paths thanks to science fiction that dared to challenge young minds? There are plenty of “closet” trekkies at NASA, I am sure.

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I read the news today, oh boy. It was announced that climate change denier Sen. Ted Cruz has been appointed to lead the Senate Space, Science and Competitiveness subcommittee. As professor Michio Kaku said,”It’s like having the fox guard the chicken coop.” And while Cruz will make inspired speeches about space flight, keep in mind that one of NASA’s most important roles is to look back at our planet, keeping an eye on climate change. I wonder where the budgets will be cut?

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At the same time Senator Marco “I’m not a scientist but…” Rubio was named chair of the subcommittee on Oceans,Atmosphere, Fisheries and Coast Guard.

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And, of course, there is Senator James Inhofe, who believes climate change is a “hoax,” has now taken over as chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee (which oversees the EPA)

Bill Moyers has an excellent rundown on what the last election has wrought. Take a look:

http://billmoyers.com/2014/10/28/gop-takes-senate-climate-change-deniers-will-control-key-committees/

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This handful of images shows the variety of appearances made by brachiopods – all from the same site, all the same age. Of the thousands of brachiopod types these are but a few.

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Last is part of a gastropod, just for a little change. These particular fossils  are roughly 385 million years old. And, as species, they lasted millions and millions of years. I oftentimes wonder how it will work out for us.

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One final note. A thanks to all of you who visit this site. I have always been more concerned about turning out something worthy of your time, rather than engaging in publicizing the blog. So I was gratified to see the annual data info WordPress sent recently that showed a very nice jump in viewership – a 33% increase in 2014 over the previous year – 8800 unique visits from 69 countries.

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Thank you again for this visit.

Down at the Creek

Kaaterskill Creek passes within a couple of hundred yards of my studio. After dropping down from the eastern escarpment of the Catskill Mountains, it joins with Catskill Creek on its way to the Hudson River. Thanks to the omnipresent rock formations and outcroppings, indeed rock floor just about everywhere, there are nearby stretches that contain varying amounts of fossils. A great destination on a sunny early Spring day.

The opening image is that of “tentaculites“, conical, ribbed fossils that are poorly understood for a variety of reasons. This was my first find on Tuesday’s hike – not a bad way to begin. The image itself reminds me of some insignia patch that Tom Corbett or Tom Swift might have worn!

A funny thing happens every time I walk this one stretch of creek. It takes only a moment to find something to engage me visually. And once engaged, the opportunities cascade onward well past any original plans. So, on that particular afternoon I found more fossils, including a wonderful piece of ripple rock with a well placed trace fossil crown!

In such a beautiful location, it’s easy to be so focused on finding fossils that you can miss everything else – and there is always so much more. On that day I spent time with the “natural” assemblages still in place from Hurricane Irene.

And, last but not least, there are the rocks. They are so hard to ignore (even without any fossils attached). Let your mind wander with the thoughts they might evoke.
It was a very good day down on the creek.

One final note: Last week I mentioned the Interview and spread in the Spring, 2012 issue of Kaatskill Life Magazine. Many friends from outside the area wrote that they were unable to see the article, given the limited web presence of the magazine online. So I have posted the interview and selected images from the article, all of which can be found at Kaatskill Life Article.

Thank you as always for visiting. More images at www.artmurphy.com

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