September 2011

This is a photo of the Petermann Ice Island taken by a NASA International Space Station crew.   This amazing image reveals the ice island complete with melt ponds and supraglacial meltwater channels clearly visible.

A series of close-up photos of this huge ice chunk taken in August 2011 can be viewed here.  Currently the ice island is located off the coast of Newfoundland, as seen in July from this satellite image, and reported in this CBC new article.

Updates on the progress of the ice island can be tracked from the Environment Canada webpage.

The drifting ice island originated from the Petermann Glacier in Northwest Greenland breaking off as a giant iceberg of unprecedented size (five times the size of Manhattan Island) on August 5, 2010 (see satellite images here).  The Petermann Glacier drains about 6% of the Greenland ice sheet.  Previously this ice-front had a relatively stable position, but recent environmental changes raise questions about the possible further retreat of the ice-tongue and the knock-on contributions to sea-level rise.  See this article for more context and scientific insight.

K. K. Falkner, H. Melling, A. M. Munchow, J. E. Box, T. Wohlleben, H. L. Johnson, P. Gudmandsen, R. Samelson, L. Copland, K. Steffen, E. Rignot, and A. K. Higgins.  Context for the Recent Massive Petermann Glacier Calving Event, EOS, 92, 117-124, 2011.

Another major iceberg is poised to break off again from Petermann Glacier, probably next year now, according to Glaciologist Jason Box (see media reports here and here).


Here’s a funny animation that clearly explains the problems with for-profit academic publishers:

George Monbiot has also recently highlighted this issue with his usual aplomb (see article here).

I read this today on the bus home, kind of sums up were I’m at right now:

“As a Scientist, your goals are to make exciting discoveries, to change the way your colleagues and maybe even the public at large view the world, and generally to improve people’s lives.  However, need I remind you, you will remain a human being, with human needs, even while you are pushing back the frontiers of ignorance.  No matter how romantically you view your role in research, you will not be happy without a secure, well-paid job.”

This is a quote from “A PhD Is Not Enough!: A Guide to Survival in Science” by Peter J. Feibelman.  It’s a great little book that I would recommend to anyone wishing to enter (or is starting out in) the field of Scientific research.  It covers career advice from graduate school to tenure track, tips for job hunting, presentations, and paper writing.  An easy read, blunt, honesty, and to the point, it’s full of useful snippets of frank advice and information.

What is the link between Gaddafi and the Bible?

Sirte (also spelt Syrtis)

This is the city of Gaddafi’s birth and at the time of writing remains a stronghold against the National Transitional Council forces.  This very same town is mentioned in the Book of Acts (as pointed out by the Bible places blog, here and Peter Kirk’s blog, here).

But not long after, a tempestuous head wind arose, called Euroclydon.  So when the ship was caught, and could not head into the wind, we let her drive.  And running under the shelter of an island called Claudia, we secured the skiff with difficulty.  When they had taken it on board, they used cables to undergird the ship; and fearing lest they should run aground on the Syrtis Sands, they struck sail and so were driven” (Acts 27:14-17, NKJV).

For someone who is about to teach a course on Coastal Geomorphology these Syrtis Sands sound intriguing.  Here is a short article on the Syrtis Sands by Gordon Franz.  Basically, the Syrtis Sands were greatly feared by sailors because of their shifting sandbars and treacherous shallows.  They had a horrible reputation as a sailors’ graveyard saying the name alone struck terror in those who heard it (see some historical references in Gordon Franz’s article).

Here is a sea floor map of the area in question:


… according to a new book by Renovare.  The list was composed by Richard Foster, Dallas Willard, Phyllis Tickle, and Chris Webb among others.  Here is their list:

1.  On the Incarnation  by St. Athanasius
2.  Confessions  by St. Augustine
3.  The Sayings of the Desert Fathers
4.  The Rule of St. Benedict  by St. Benedict
5.  The Divine Comedy  by Dante Alighieri
6.  The Cloud of Unknowing  by Anonymous
7.  Revelations of Divine Love (Showings)  by Julian of Norwich
8.  The Imitation of Christ  by Thomas à Kempis
9.  The Philokalia
10.  Institutes of the Christian Religion  by John Calvin
11.  The Interior Castle  by St. Teresa of Avila
12.  Dark Night of the Soul  by St. John of the Cross
13.  Pensées  by Blaise Pascal
14.  The Pilgrim’s Progress  by John Bunyan
15.  The Practice of the Presence of God  by Brother Lawrence
16.  A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life  by William Law
17.  The Way of a Pilgrim  by Unknown Author
18.  The Brothers Karamazov  by Fyodor Dostoevsky
19.  Orthodoxy  by G. K. Chesterton
20.  The Poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins
21.  The Cost of Discipleship  by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
22.  A Testament of Devotion  by Thomas R. Kelly
23.  The Seven Storey Mountain  by Thomas Merton
24.  Mere Christianity  by C. S. Lewis
25.  The Return of the Prodigal Son  by Henri J. M. Nouwen

Ok, so I’m not doing very well, I’ve read The Imitation of Christ and The Brothers Karamazov (both of which are brilliant by the way) and half of The Pilgrim’s Progress (I got bored so gave up!) and I’ve possibly read some or all of Mere Christianity.  Some of these I haven’t even heard of before – The Philokalia anyone.