Delicate Arch, with a dusting of snow, as the sun sets.
A great reason to live in Moab, Utah, or visit there.
Delicate Arch, with a dusting of snow, as the sun sets.
A great reason to live in Moab, Utah, or visit there.
Lightning strike in Monument Valley, photo by Carolyn Slay of Oak Ridge, Tennessee; Smithsonian Magazine Tumblr Photo of the Day, February 20, 2014.
Rocks on the right can also be seen in this photo; can you help pinpoint the location of the photographer, and names of any of the other formations?
It’s an interesting town, Dinosaur, Colorado 81610. It’s on the south side of US Highway 40, a very short distance east of the Utah border.
The town of Dinosaur was originally named Artesia; the current name was adopted in 1966, to capitalize on the town’s proximity to Dinosaur National Monument. The monument headquarters is located just east of the town on U.S. Highway 40.
It’s a setup, a straight line waiting for a good comedian.
Brian Switek, the science writer now based in Salt Lake City, suggests one area ripe for comedy:
Wait. What? Dinosaur Baptist Church?
Brian Tweeted that he wasn’t looking to ridicule, but: “I just imagined thyreophorans, maniraptorans, sauropodomorphs, and their ilk in the congregation.”
That might produce even more comedic situations.
It’s a Southern Baptist Convention-affiliated congregation. Aren’t you curious how Sunday school goes for dinosaur-crazy kids in such a church, in such a town?
Signs of life, signs of the times, signs of something!
From a different angle, one can see that the church is just a couple of blocks off of Stegosaurus Freeway. Wow.
Still, it’s fun to imagine a nice, small town church, with dinosaurs in the back pews singing along. (Instead, Chris Clarke suggested, they are hiding in the Rocks of Ages . . .)
Don’t get complacent, yet. Has enough water fallen in the Great Lakes drainage area in the past six months to change this situation at all? From the New York Times last June:
Drought and other factors have created historically low water marks for the Great Lakes, putting the $34 billion Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway shipping industry in peril, a situation that could send ominous ripples throughout the economy.
Water levels in the Great Lakes have been below their long-term averages during the past 14 years, and this winter the water in Lakes Michigan and Huron, the hardest-hit lakes, dropped to record lows, according to the Army Corps of Engineers. Keith Kompoltowicz, the chief of watershed hydrology with the corps’s Detroit district, said that in January “the monthly mean was the lowest ever recorded, going back to 1918.”
While spring rains have helped so far this year, levels in all five Great Lakes are still low by historical standards, so getting through the shallow points in harbors and channels is a tense affair.
It’s not just storms, rising sea levels, and melting glaciers, you know.
Or any other time of year.
From the Department of Interior Twitter feeds:
“Devils Tower NM” means “National Monument,” not New Mexico. This volcano remnant stands in Wyoming.
Old friend, painter and photographer Nancy Christensen Littlefield offers a more close-up view.
And looking even closer, you spy Richard Dreyfus never-wanna-bes:
Devils Tower is the plug of an old volcano. What’s left is the magma that hardened, and what we see is left after the softer cone eroded away.
We had to fight to keep this stuff in Texas science books.
Then, out on the street, I see a U-Haul truck.
Well played, U-Haul. Can Texas catch up?
Update, October 24, 2013: Turns out U-Haul has a website that features all of the graphics they use on their trucks. I sense a geography or state history assignment in here, somewhere, social studies teachers. Reminds me of the animals that used to (still do?) grace the tails of Frontier Airlines airplanes, the Native American on the tails of Alaska Airlines, and other specific destination promoting tricks businesses have used over the years. Wish more businesses would do that.
The film is simply named, “Granite.” Steven Bumgardner produced the film.
Yosemite’s chief formations are granite, an igneous rock. Much of the terrain was carved in the granite by glaciers and glaciation — so what Yosemite shows is how fire and ice combine to make rock, to make rock formations, and to make rocks of astonishing beauty.
(This is not a place to bolster creationist ideas. This is real science, looking at God’s handiwork first hand.)
A North Carolina university makes field trips to Yosemite? I’d love to take that class!
Watching this film, you get a sense of how important it can be to the education of our children to travel in the summers, to take vacations to our National Parks, and to places like Yosemite.
Where are you taking your kids this summer? Kids, where are you going?
Enjoy it. Geology lessons are often fun, and this one, on film, is more fun than most.
We shouldn’t get out of April 19 — a day marked by significant historic events through the past couple hundred years — without remembering that it is also the anniversary of the death of Darwin.
Immortality? Regardless Darwin’s religious beliefs (I’ll argue he remained Christian, thank you, if you wish to argue), he achieved immortality solely on the strength of his brilliant work in science. Of course he’s best known for being the first to figure out that natural and sexual selection worked as tools to sculpt species over time, a theory whose announcement he shared with Alfred Russel Wallace, who independently arrived at almost exactly the same theory but without the deep evidentiary backup Darwin had amassed.
But had evolution turned out to be a bum theory, Darwin’s other works would have qualified him as one of the greatest scientists of all time, including:
Any of those accomplishments would have been a career-capping work for a scientist. Darwin’s mountains of work still form foundations of geology and biology, and are touchstones for genetics.
Born within a few hours of Abraham Lincoln on February 12, 1809, Darwin survived 17 years longer — 17 extremely productive years. Ill through much of his life with mystery ailments, perhaps Chaga’s Disease, or perhaps some other odd parasite or virus he picked up on his world travels, Darwin succumbed to heart disease on April 19, 1882.
East side of Timpanogos, by the Heber Valley Convention and Visitors Bureau:
Tip of the old scrub brush to Susan Reeve Lewis.
Stealing the entire post from P. Z. Myers at Pharyngula:
I’ve been playing with it for a while. It turns out that when you go back to Cretaceous Morris, you need to be able to swim really well, but Cambrian Morris is high and dry on a fairly small landmass (whoa, but oxygen is way down and carbon dioxide way up). You can have your own time machine, too — it’s the EarthViewer app for iPad, and it’s free from HHMI Here’s what it has:
• Data and continental reconstructions dating back billions of years
• Climate and carbon dioxide data for the last 100 years
• The ability to manipulate the globe and zoom to any location
• Track the location of modern cities back over 500 million years
• In depth features on major geological and biological events in Earth history
• Clickable details on geologic eons, eras, and periods
• Automated play modes
• An extensive reference list
• Suggestions for classroom use
• Tutorial videos
Did I mention that it’s free? This HHMI thing is pretty danged sweet.
There is no creationist/Noah’s Flood version.
No Windows version, yet, either.
Did we mention the Howard Hughes Medical Institute made this and related apps free?
In a state where they once named the proposed state capital “Fillmore,” and the county in which that town sat, “Millard,” to try to curry favor with President Millard Fillmore for the state’s petition to gain statehood, one might logically think that a spectacular desert canyon not far away called Millard Canyon might also be named in honor of our 13th president.
Not so, in this case. According to John W. van Cott’s Utah Place Names (University of Utah Press, 1990):
MILLARD CANYON (Garfield County) originates at French Springs southeast of Hans Flat. The canyon drains north northeast into the Green River at Queen Anne Bottom. According to Baker, “They learned later that they had misunderstood this name; instead of honoring a president, it was named for an undistinguished `Miller’ who did nothing more than leave this small, mistaken mark on the map” (Baker, Pearl. Robbers Roost Recollections. Logan, UT: Utah State University Press, 1976, p. 33). The name was even misspelled Millard.
Millard Fillmore is off the hook on this one.
Garfield County, Utah, was named after President James Garfield.
So, who was this “Miller” guy?
(Post inspired by image from the Canyonlands NP Facebook site; temperature at the time of the photo was near 0°F.)
Here’s a good demonstration of why you don’t need PhotoShop, but a decent camera and a steady hand instead.
Craig Clyde took this photo of Utah Valley‘s Mt. Timpanogos, probably from Saratoga Springs, on the west side of Utah Lake, after one of the first snows of 2012. (This area had a few farm fields when I grew up there.) It’s a great photo for several reasons.
It’s a formerly unusual view, there being so few people on the west side of the lake until recent development. It pictures all of Timpanogos, with American Fork Canyon on the left, Mahogany Mountain, Big Baldy, and Provo Canyon on the right. It’s an afternoon shot, you can tell from the angle of the sun (the mountain runs on a north-south axis), and the darkness on the lower mountains may be caused by the Sun’s setting behind the mountain range on the west side of the lake. Timpanogos in white, in the afternoon sunshine, is one of the greatest images of a mountain you’ll ever see.
Tip of the old scrub brush to Craig Clyde. Mr. Clyde and I attended high school together — haven’t seen him in more than 30 years; not sure, but I don’t think he’s the same Craig Clyde in the movie business.
Long-time Scout friend Hal Rosen said he caught some good photos here, too — but none at this precise moment:
First you must get to Capitol Reef National Park, in Utah — one of Utah’s unfairly large number of five National Parks. Then you take your “high-clearance vehicle” (not necessarily 4-wheel drive) out on the dirt roads in Cathedral Valley, and you hope for a crystal blue sky like this one. Then you happen to get there just as the sun is right at the peak of the formation . . .
You had to be there. Mike Saemisch was there just over a week ago, on October 29, 2012, and fortunately caught this photograph with the Sun as part of a sparkling spire on a sandstone formation known as the Temple of the Sun.
Digital photography changes the way one tours these places. Fortunately. Take the kids, and make sure they find it on a map so they can use your trip as fodder for their 9th grade geography class.
You got the Tweet?
US Dept of Interior (@Interior) November 05, 2012
We should go see for ourselves, no?
If you go today, vote before you go. This is one of the areas to be opened to energy exploration — oil and gas drilling or other mining — under Mitt Romney’s “energy plan” and the GOP National Platform.
This is an encore post, a repeat post from about four years ago, back in 2008. For some reason the post got a couple hundred hits one day this past week, probably from a reference at another blog that I could not track. I reread it — still true, still good stuff. In this campaign year of 2012, I am dismayed at how anti-science and the denial of reality haunts election discussions, especially on-line, but also in the newspapers and magazines, on television and radio, in diners and drugstore fountains, in churches and PTA meetings. Denial of reality may or may not be a genuine ailment to humans. When it becomes a core belief of a significant number of people, denial can cripple our nation, our states, cities and towns. We need to ask deep questions. We need to have real answers, not fantasies nor dangerous delusions.
Denying reality plagues us as an actual political response to several problems. Denialists wander so far down paths of disreality, they argue that we should ignore serious problems, and that the problems will then go away.
Should we teach the science of evolution to our children, or should we pretend fairy tales will substitute? This has deep meaning to those who understand that Charles Darwin’s greatest contribution to science probably was his strict methodology, which required observation of things in nature before writing about them as if authoritative. Early in his life Darwin recognized that the natural world he saw, in Brazil, in the Galapagos Islands, in Australia and Tasmania, in South Africa, bore little resemblance to the world portrayed as authoritative by the great William Paley in his Natural Theology. Throughout his science career Darwin observed real things in real time. For his monograph on coral atolls, Darwin extensively observed the volcanic island phenomena throughout the South Pacific. To write about barnacles, Darwin raised them in tanks in his study. Looking at the mystery of exactly how the ivy twines, Darwin put a plant before him, and watched it, unraveling the secrets of how tendrils “knew” what to latch onto for support of the vine. To write about leaf moulds, Darwin observed worms at work, in his lab and in his gardens. To show the variation existing in what we now call the genome of a species, Darwin made extensive interviews and correspondence with animal husbanders of pigs, sheep and cattle, and he raised pigeons for generations himself, demonstrating how variations can be expressed that drive populations of one species to split into two through natural, everyday processes familiar to anyone who observed nature, and accessible by anyone who made methodical notes.
This familiarity with reality made Darwin a great scientist. The methodology proved extendable into other areas when he carefully observed the mediums to whom his brother had cast great credence. Charles revealed to Erasmus that spirit knocking on the tables at the séances did not occur so long as they held the hands of the mediums, who were then unable to feign the knocking. Ultimately it provided some despair to Darwin: In the face of criticism from William Thompson, Lord Kelvin, that the Earth was not old enough to allow for evolution as Darwin suggested it must have occurred, Darwin had no answer. Lord Kelvin calculated the ages of the Earth and Sun to be no more than 200 million years. This was shown by the present temperatures and color of the Earth and the Sun, and calculated by Lord Kelvin from how long it would take the Earth, known to be composed of much iron and nickel, to cool from white hot to current temperatures. Lord Kelvin ventured deep into coal mines to measure the temperatures of the Earth deep underground, to confirm his calculations. At his death, though he defended his own observations of fossils and breeding of live animals, Darwin had no response for those arguments. Darwin thought there must be other forces at play. Only some years later did Ernest Rutherford find the secret of the Earth’s heat: Radioactive decay in the mantle and core of the planet keeps it warm. Measures of heat loss for such a large body had not accounted for continuous heating from within. A short while later astronomers and physicists discovered problems with Lord Kelvin’s calculations of the age of the Sun: The Sun is not composed of iron, cooling from white hot temperatures, but instead is hydrogen, fusing into helium, and making its own heat.
Darwin’s calculations of the age of the Earth were more accurate than Lord Kelvin’s, based on Darwin’s crude calculations of how long it might take animals and plants to have evolved from much more primitive forms. History demonstrated by easily observable things provided greater accuracy than history devised without benefit of grounding in reality.
In what other realms might grounding in reality produce answers different from what some expect, even producing better questions that many ask? Should we consider the migratory pattern changes of birds, fish and mammals, as indicators of a warming climate, over rebuttals provided by untested claims that measuring stations might not be placed correctly? Can we actually “cool” atoms with lasers, and use individual atoms to store information, no matter how counterintuitive that might sound? Can it be true that teaching people about contraception, and about sex, actually prompts teenagers (and others) to reduce sexual activity and look for love, rather than just sex? Does extending medical coverage to an entire population actually decrease total health care costs as observed in all other nations where that solution has been tried, or will it increase costs because the only way to reduce medical costs is to ration it, either with a bureaucracy, or by cutting off access by backdoor, death panel means testing (no money, no health care)? Is there any place Arthur Laffer‘s “curve” of increasing tax revenues by cutting tax rates, actually does not work — or any place it actually works? Has any society in history ever gotten rich by showering riches on the rich, and ignoring the poor, the merchants, and the working class?
In short, how does reality we know, inform us about reality yet to be? Which is the more potent predictor, observed reality, or hoped-for results to the contrary?
Our future hangs on how we answer the question, probably more than what the answer actually is.
I believe Christians, the largest faith group in the U.S., have a duty to stand for reality, and truth discovered by observation. That was the issue in 2008, too.
Here is my post of four years ago. I noticed a few of the links no longer work; I’ll replace them with working links as I can. If you find a bad link, please note it in comments; and if you have a better link, note that, too.
Several weeks ago [in 2008] I responded to a lengthy thread at Unreasonable Faith. The original post was Garry Trudeau’s “Doonesbury” cartoon of the guy in a doctor’s office, just diagnosed with an infection. The physician asks the guy if he’s a creationist, explaining that if he is, the doc will treat him with old antibiotics in honor of his belief that evolution of bacteria doesn’t occur.
Point being, of course, that evolution occurs in the real world. Creationists rarely exhibit the faith of their claims when their life, or just nagging pain, is on the line. They’ll choose the evolution-based medical treatment almost every time. There are no creationists in the cancer or infectious disease wards.
At one point I responded to a comment loaded with typical creationist error. It was a long post. It covered some ground that I’ve not written about on this blog. And partly because it took some time to assemble, I’m reposting my comments here. Of course, without the Trudeau cartoon, it won’t get nearly the comments here.
I’ll add links here when I get a chance, which I lacked the time to do earlier. See my post, below the fold.