Western Geology and Eastern Meteorology

Don’t get me wrong, both earth sciences are important on both coasts.  Weather is everywhere, and earth is our planet.  But the effects of these areas of knowledge are more profound on their respective sides of the United States.

My point is the majority of geological disasters (as well as benefits, whether practical or aesthetic) happen on the west side of the country.  And because of the 1959 ratification of Alaska and Hawaii as states, that adds to the picture.

A prime example is the state of California.  Pros of living out there (concerning geology) are its beautiful structures, from mountains (i.e., Coast Ranges, Sierra Nevada), to the coast itself.  A notorious con is, of course, earthquakes, due to the San Andreas Fault.

The Pacific Northwest (i.e., the states of Washington and Oregon), extreme northern California, and the Canadian province of British Columbia also hold a grand mountain range, the Cascades.  This is where things get nasty, however, namely, concerning volcanoes.  If you are old enough to remember 1980’s Mount St. Helens eruption in Washington state, you will understand what I mean.  There are other Cascade volcanoes as well.  I hope to discuss in a later post in more detail about how volcanoes work, as well as other geological phenomena.  For now, as a sneak peek, I will at least mention that Hawaiian volcanoes are a little safer.

And further inland, we all know about all the major spectacles, like the Grand Canyon, the Rockies, and many others.  Ditto for Alaska and much of Canada, which are not only sublime sights, but Canada may provide oil and natural gas, to help our economy divert from imports from Middle Eastern lands.  But that’s politics, so let’s not go there)

Now on to the east.  As an east coast dweller (Pennsylvania) myself, we worry more about hurricanes, severe thunderstorms, and flash floods.  (And maybe the very occasional tornado).  While many of these ills are of an issue on the southeastern portion of the east coast (as well as the states by the Gulf of Mexico), in rare instances, like 2012’s “Superstorm Sandy,” a strange type of hurricane, portions of the northeastern end (mostly the states of New York and New Jersey) was quite severely traumatized.

But the east is not devoid of geologic structures!  The Appalachians (another splendid region) are probably the best example.  Pennsylvania (and probably other states) has some iffiness on “fracking” (namely, shale fracturing).  The dilemma in this case is either clean water, or more and/or better energy.  Again, though let’s stay away from politics!

Perhaps the heartland gives the best of both worlds.  The Great Plains in the Midwestern Untied States, often known as Tornado Alley, was intended as the path for the Keystone XL pipeline designed to capitalize on American and Canadian fossil fuels.  And obviously, it is a tornado risk area.  The Gulf of Mexico, also an oil source, is also hurricane prone.  (Remember Hurricane Katrina in 2005?  Most locals would rather repress it.)

So while both sides of our great country involve both branches of earth science, geology seems more dominant out west and meteorology in the east.  I’ll be sure to update you as I read things on the subject!

Hey, this stuff may make a good hobby later on.

College Update

This afternoon, a few months after submitting an application to Lock Haven University, one of the Pennsylvania “state schools” in the northern part of the state, I returned a call from an admissions director, and I was accepted!  Due to some misconduct over the past few years, sparing the gory details of such, I cannot live on campus.  Nonetheless, I can definitely live in the neighboring town (namely, you guessed it, Lock Haven, PA) and commute to school on time.

While I applied to the University for spring 2017, I probably won’t go until the fall of 2017 or more likely, 2018.  (Spring 2017 was the latest option on the application, so I selected that.)

The other major update is that after a year or so of study at Lock Haven, I may, in addition to my Biology program into which I have already been accepted, may add a “double major,” perhaps in geology.  Just as with biology (if not more so), when studying the subject, as a young-earth creationist myself, I would thinking against what I would typically believe.  Yet I have good resources, such as journals and personal mentors, that can keep me on track.  After all, the majority of scientists (of any kind) that follow creationism have had to take old-earth scholastic routes to get there.

As for my West Chester plan, I felt the double major of Biology and Geology had a better overlap of courses at Lock Haven, so I think I’ll go for Lock Haven instead, even though it’s MUCH further (that is, 4 hours or so from Philadelphia).

So, while I feel headed for “the Haven”, for now let’s just concentrate on getting through its “gateway,” that is, CCP.

“Pete Can Dance Silly On Camera” – A Paleozoic Mnemonic

(Disclaimer:  I do not take a solid position whether the earth is old or young, nor is it relevant.  This post is just here to demonstrate the power of associative learning, especially mnemonic devices.  Also, I am not a paleontologist or geologist, so don’t assume any scholarly accuracy on my post!)

You may think I’m nuts, but this mnemonic literally rocks!

It stands for, in backward chronological order, for Permian, Carboniferous, Devonian, Silurian, Ordovician, and Cambrian, the six periods of the Paleozoic era.  Broadly, this is life before the dinosaurs, who ruled the Mesozoic era.  Next (the era we live in now, according to evolutionary theory) is the Cenozoic, which is basically the time of modern life (especially humankind).

With mnemonic and other associative methods of learning, you can retain information better.  For example, with the Silurian (which started 430 MYA, according to an old earth), you could use the number 430 and make a statement like “it’s silly to get up before 4:30 am,” a way of relating the two.

Or, for the Cambrian, starting 570 MYA, you could consider the idea of the 570 area code of Pennsylvania, and Cambria County (which is not in 570 area code; if you were wondering, it’s in 814).  But by associating Pennsylvania, a county therein, and one of the state’s area codes, it may be easier to remember.

Mnemonics, don’t you just love them?

Hold Your Horses, Let’s Think Twice a Little

It dawned on me that chemistry may not be the way to go since both the degree and the careers to which it leads are meticulous and mathematically intense.  But if I get so consumed with trying to be too much of a “polymath,” this may deter me from normal adult duties, like bills, raising a family (if applicable), and especially, work.

So that leaves me with the geosciences and biology as choices for majors at my choice college (West Chester U, about 30 miles west of Philadelphia).  But since I’m not too partial to either, I thought, hey, why not get the best of both worlds?  So I might as well get, you guessed it, a double major!

They share a few courses (i.e., physics, chemistry, math, etc.), most of which I shall complete during the community college portion.  Most of the work at West Chester will likely be in the specific fields of the majors.

And these two often intertwine.  For example, consider work with plants, and the branches of biology that deal with them, directly or indirectly.  The plants are the subject of botany; herbivores, their carnivorous or omnivorous predators are considered in zoology; and their interaction with each other is ecology.  Then you have genetics and cell biology, concerning how all this stuff runs.  And there are many subdisciplines of these, many of which are “tie-ins” of each other.  As for the geoscience side of things, mineralogy and petrology deal with minerals and rocks, respectively.  Many processes shape the earth, and there are courses for that.  The weather, of course, is discussed in meteorology, and astronomy shows how celestial bodies affect what goes on this terrestrial ball.

Or, from a geological perspective, if I pursued petroleum geology, well, guess what, petroleum is brought to you, by, yes, fossils!  Paleontology, a course in the geoscience lineup, is essentially where biology and geology meet, thereby making many biological courses relevant.

Whichever major I choose to center my career on (if it is only one, as usual), the other one is doubtless beneficial.  Pray for God’s guidance for me, as He directs one’s steps no matter what his/her plans are.  (cf. Prov 16:9)

I hope the field isn’t too rocky — or wild!

The Kaaba Stone

Natural or supernatural?
Natural or supernatural?

In my Britannica online access (courtesy of the community college I attend), when probing the article dealing with Islam (a wonderful topic to learn about, not to convert of course, but to understand where their doctrines, practices, etc. come from), I came across the statement of the Kaaba (Black) Stone.”  Located at the Kaaba, which Muslims consider the link between heaven and earth and the point of ascension of Mohammed, it was stated that the stone was placed due to Adam’s fall, and it was originally white, but by taking the sins of those who go on the hajj (the pilgrimage Muslims take once in their lifetime), it became black.

Now of course I do believe miracles have happened, can happen, and do happen, and the scientifically proven laws can be supernaturally resisted, but very rarely.  From the Christian perspective I write from, when the apostles ceased to have the capacity to perform miracles after Jesus ascended.  Since then, miracles, when they happen, come directly from God.

But for these Muslims who use this stone to perpetually absolve (and, comically enough, absorb) their sins, the stone just gets darker and darker.  And considering the idea of the age of the earth, which alas, will doubtless take us extremely beyond the scope of this post, may have a different rate of blackening depending on a given age, as well as, more or less, based on the pilgrims who visit.

The concepts of geology, like all natural sciences, were set in place by God, and as a Christian, studying these subjects instills an appreciation of the orderliness of God.  If He is controlling the stone’s blackness (though human will, of course, but that’s another matter) due to sin accrued, rather than the laws he instated concerning rocks (proven by science), that would be a violation of those laws.  After all, rocks are made of minerals, which are chemical compounds.

Yet a prevailing theory, given while Muslims view the Kaaba stone is of divine origin, others view it as a mere meteorite.  Also, while the astronomical “heavens” are one thing, the heaven where God dwells is an entirely different concept.

Most likely, according to geologists in a 1974 paper, the stone is most likely an agate, which fits the criteria of their studies.  An anonymous geologist, who was a Muslim, also analyzed this stone on his hajj.

Keep in mind all stones are created, not divine.  Some sources attribute Allah to be the stone itself.  Since only a God can forgive sin, and Islam teaches that Christ was spared from crucifixion, which, per Christianity, is the way sins are forgiven.

To conclude, as a hopeful scientist and/or writer of such, not to mention a Christian, there will inevitably some bias.  Two of the three authors of the Britannica article had Islamic names and were hence most likely Muslims, the other had a typical Western name, which does not suggest much.  But in anything, even in secular topics like science, things must always be taken with a grain of salt.  After all, scientists “write the book of nature” by their observations and experiments, and on this side of heaven, it will always be a mere approximation of the objective truth held only by God.