Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Pinnacle Park, Western Australia

Last year I had my first trip in the Land Down Under.  I was in Perth for most of the time, but my first escape to the bushland was to visit the Nambung National Park and to see the pinnacles.
© RomaniaRocks
The trip in itself was awesome: my friend and I took off from Perth, driving "on the wrong side of the road", checking religiously the gas level in the tank to make sure we are not stuck on the road, no gas, in the middle of nowhere.  The car windshield cracked midway there... you get the picture, it was a blast.  The trip was fantastic, the geology great.  The pictures show these pinnacles, which are believed to be syngenetic karstic geomorphological features formed by karstification and lithification of aeolian calcarenite.  The origin of these features is controversial, which explains why I was confused reading the info in the park, but here is a recent paper discussing the subject. The pillars are produced by
simultaneous karstifcation and lithifcation of aeolian calcarenite
Eolian calcarenites are sands consisting of fragments of carbonate-skeleton organisms such as foraminifera, mollusks, red algae, echinoderms.  These skeleton fragments were transported by wind and deposited as dunes or other eolian land forms.  Shortly after deposition, these sands were affected by karstification (dissolution) and lithification (the process of turning a sediment into a rock), resulting in the formation of the pillars.

© RomaniaRocks

© RomaniaRocks

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Cool Science #1

(image source http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2009/10/fractal-genome/)
A team of researchers in the Harvard MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology found a way to resolve the 3D structure of the human genome.  They used a method dubbed Hi-C, which involves: 1) bonding together gene-sequences situated close together in the 3D-structure but not in the linear sequence, 2) breaking the genome into million pieces, 3) marking the ends of the bonded genome fragments, 4) glue the ends of each fragment together, to form a circle of DNA and 5) sequencing of the marked pieces to visualize which pieces of DNA were physically close together.

I know I am off topic, but this is not only amazing in itself, but a similar method may be applied/addapted to visualize and understand many other complex systems.  And geology certainly has plenty of such systems.

More on this may be found here and here.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Romanian-born German wins 2009 Nobel Prize

Herta Müller, the Romanian-born German novelist and essayist won the 2009 Nobel Prize for literature.  She grew up in communist Romania and lived part of her adult life there. I relate to that experience, I left Romania when I was 25-years old.  My circumstances were different, and my adopted country was different, but I recognize many of my experiences in her writings. Ms. Muller's modesty and down-to-earth attitude when interviewed after she learned of the award stuck with me:
"I am the person that I am, I am now nothing better and I’m nothing worse. It’s O.K., it’s nice, but it won’t change anything for me. My inner thing is writing. That I can hold on to."
This is a great!  The typical news from Romania these days are not great, usually "no news is good news".  This is truly extraordinary, and makes me very happy and proud.
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