Monday, November 30, 2009

Interesting word for today: graben

According to the American Geological Institute's Glossary of Geology, 4th edition, the definition of graben is the following:

"graben (n) An elongate trough or basin, bounded on both sides by high-angle normal faults that dip toward the interior of the trough."

Breaking it down a bit:

A fault is a crack in a rock body along which the rock has moved--i.e., the rock on each side of the fault has moved relative to the rock on the other side. Most faults are tilted relative to Earth's surface--they're not perfectly vertical. Therefore, there is a body of rock "above" the fault and a body of rock "below" the fault. The rock "above" the fault is called the hanging wall. The rock "below" the fault is called the footwall:

The hanging wall and the footwall can move in two different ways. In a normal fault, the hanging wall moves down relative to the footwall. In a thrust fault, the hanging wall moves up relative to the footwall:


A graben is a valley bounded by high-angle (i.e., steep) normal faults on both sides:


Sorry about the blurry images. Blogger's thumbnails aren't that great. But you should be able to see the images in all their glory by clicking on them...

Friday, November 6, 2009

An open letter...

...to the leftover Halloween candy lurking throughout my house.

Dear Evil, Yet Strangely Delicious and Compelling Ones,

Please, leave me alone. Seriously. Why can't you bother my husband for a while?

Please?

Thanks,

Kate, who wishes to remain cavity- free and to not have to purchase new pants

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Uncomfortable research

There are a couple of good posts up at ScienceBlogs (at Bioephemera and Adventures in Ethics and Science) about the double standard applied to drug addiction research, and the ethics thereof.

To sum it up succinctly, BioE points out the apparent double standard of research into how to help people quit smoking tobacco = GOOD! but research into how to help people quit smoking pot or crack = BAD! She also points out the (possibly larger) societal costs associated with illegal drug use and addiction and (validly, in my opinion) questions why spending money to try to avert those costs is considered a waste of money. She also touches on issues involved in funding research on other "uncomfortable" topics, such as HIV transmission in transgendered prostitutes.

Dr. Free-Ride, as is her wont, addresses some of the ethics involved in avoiding research on behaviors considered to be "moral failings." She asks (again, validly, in my opinion) "...are we committed to a one-strike policy with bad choices, with no room for compassion or fresh starts? Is that really who we want to be as a society?"

My answer is a resounding "Hell, no!"

And as both Dr. Free-Ride and BioE have asked for others to post their thoughts, I thought I would.

I'd like to write more on this, but between the two of them they've pretty well hit all the points I would have made.

Go forth, read...and then do something about it!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

This requires a new label category

Between this and the Sesame Street Martians, I think I need a new category: "I wish I'd thought of this!"

h/t to Dr. Isis

Check it out!

Suzanne Coldwell--a friend of mine from high school--and her family have an alpaca farm! How cool is that??

Check out their new website and blog.