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The Earth is a Weird and Wonderful Place

It's easy to forget neglect the wonder of our planet in the bustle of the every-day, until you stop to really think about the terrific forces at play to shape the world around us. Here's my quicklinks from around the web on amazing (and terrifying) things about our planet.

Illustration for article titled The Earth is a Weird and Wonderful Place

NASA has a satellite photo gallery of every country participating in the World Cup. This is Sao Simao Reservoir in host-nation Brazil. Check out the rest of the gallery here. [Credit: NASA/ISS] If you want yet more World Cup physics, Physics Today has an article on the aerodynamics of soccer — of the kick styles themselves, not of the ball.

Alaska has an entire handful of volcanoes setting off alerts right now, so it's a good time to marvel at the power of volcanic eruptions. While you're familiar with the flash-bang-lava-exploding parts of volcanoes, pyroclastic flows are just as deadly. Pyroclastic flows are hot, volcanic landslides travelling at mind-boggling speeds capable of flattening forests. The video really does merit the "amazing" descriptor.


While hot for landslides, pyroclastic flows are cool compared to lava. One particularly cool pyroclastic flow actually managed to create a cast of a vulture's head. That's just downright awesome.

Also in palaeontology news, once upon a time, palaeontologists got into a fist-fight over ear bones.


We will never reach the deep Earth, but we know a whole lot about it anyway. Part of how we know about it is through geophysics, the science of inversion problems to investigate the subsurface. Geophysics is a strange and tricky science where sorting data from noise is a non-trivial process. But maybe we can borrow some tricks from auditory processing to help with finding weak signals in seismic data?


Talking about mysterious features in the subsurface... When ringwoodite is under enough pressure at hot enough temperatures, it changes form, releasing water into the crust. But it's dehydrated water, hydroxyl (OH), not the normal water we're accustomed to, hydrogen dioxide (H2O). Go ahead and call it a subterranean ocean if you absolutely must, just understand that it's a lie-of-simplicity. If you want an actual subterranean ocean of liquid water, you're going to have to look at the icy moons instead.


Climbing back up to the Earth's surface, the town of Norfolk is already dealing with raising sea levels periodically cutting parts of the town off during high tide. The sooner we stop arguing about if climate change is a thing, the sooner we can get on to prioritizing how to mitigate and adapt to the changes.

In other conflicts between science and policy, Canada's looking at building a pipeline based on a report that independent scientists insist is deeply flawed. But hey, it was approved by the Federal government anyway!


This last link has very little to do with geoscience, and is more about the practice of academics. I constantly struggle with finding clicky-yet-accurate titles, but these phD students have clickbaited their dissertations. Some of them were catchy enough to lure me into reading the abstract, impressive!

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