Skip to content

Monthly Archives: August 2010

Rocks in the News

I’ve added a new page that has links to interesting articles and images- check it out under Rocks in the News to the right, or just click here.

Today’s selection includes images of a volcanic eruption, updates on the situation with the miners in Chile, new news about CO2 in the oceans, and mammoths.

The Dark Dreary Mine

Come and listen you fellows,

so young and so fine,

And seek not your fortune in the dark, dreary mines.

It will form as a habit and seep in your soul,

‘Till the stream of your blood is as black as the coal.
~”Dark as a Dungeon” by Merle Travis. First performed 1946
Merle Travis wrote that song in the 1940’s, lamenting the fate of the miners in the West Virginia coal mines. It has since been performed by groups of all different kinds, from Johnny Cash to the Chieftains. With the ongoing events in Chile, a new focus has come onto mining, and the line “Dark as a Dungeon” seems more apt than ever.

Since the collapse of the San Jose copper and Gold mine on August 5, 33 miners have been trapped in an area that the New York Times described as the size of a “small apartment”, 2,300 feet underground. They survived for 17 days without any contact from the outside world, until they were located last week. Their families have been encamped outside the mine for weeks, and will likely remain there for many more, as it has been estimated that it could take up to three months to drill down and rescue them.

Walk Like an Egyptian

If you watched the Colbert Report last night you saw part of Colbert’s “Award-Ready Series: Mysteries of the Ancient Unknown” Featuring Egyptian ‘treasure’ (gold, and king tut’s penis) and Scotland. Thank you Stephen, for the perfect lede for my post today.

Egypt is perhaps the best known location for Archaeology. People are absolutely fascinated by the mystery of an ancient culture so different from our own, and way older. Since the Egyptology craze began in the early 1800’s with Napoleon’s excavations, western civilization has been entranced by all things Ancient Egyptian. What started as front-page news in the 1800’s with the discovery of the Rosetta Stone and the renewed interest in the Pyramids, merged gradually with popular culture. The Art-Deco movement of the 1920’s and ’30’s was partially inspired by egyptian styles, and the opening of King Tut’s tomb in 1922 inspired a new wave of art, including the 1932 movie The Mummy starring Boris Karloff, which in turn, inspired the remake series in 1999.


RESOURCES- The latest issue of Scientific American has a fantastic article about the limits of the earth’s resources. While the accuracy of broad estimates can always be questioned, no one can predict the future with 100% accuracy, this interactive article does a reasonable job of estimating the resources left in the the world, especially the estimates involving water, minerals, and oil. Two of the minerals that he mentions we’ve already spoken about; lithium and gold.

Poetry and Science? Say what now?

cience and poetry are not things that usually go together. Some would say that they are two totally seperate ideas that cannot be reconciled. Those ‘some’ would be wrong.

Erasmus Darwin, painted by Joseph Wright (1770)
Meet Erasmus Darwin. He was the grandfather of the undeniably more recognized Darwin, Charles. He was also one of the most brilliant scientific minds of the early 1800’s, whose passion for reason was reflected in his poetry. Poetry that reflected not just the analysis of the world which was being undertaken in his time, but also the sheer glory and beauty of the world and the awesome power of discovery. He incorporated scripture and mythology into his works while discussing astronomy, biology, geology, anatomy, psychology, and many more, and often more than one at the same time. He was what would be considered a controversial thinker today, one that discussed evolution before it was known as evolution, and commented on anatomy before dissections were widely accepted. He valued reason and discovery and logic, but one thing that he did not see value in separating the study of humans (or the world) from the humanities.

In short, he’s a cool guy.

So today we have a selection of his poetry, taken from his book The Temple of Nature published in 1803, a year after he died.