May 2012

The artist Gabo Guzzo has a new art project called The Geological Turn this project explores the Anthropocene and involves several contributors (most notably Paul Crutzen (Nobel prize winning Chemist) and Jan Zalasiewicz (Geologist and author)).  The residency was at Banner Repeater (which according to the Guardian is one of the best arts venues in north London) and the project continues to be hosted on the blog:

My own contribution/response shown on the project blog is reproduced below.

The formula in the picture is a standard conservation of mass equation describing landscape evolution, essentially all Earth surface changes in one equation, e.g. uplift, erosion, sediment flux, etc [1].  These natural geomorphic processes operate over geological time periods shaping the landscape – mountain ranges etc.  However, humans have now become the leading geomorphic agents of landscape change [2].  For example, the current rate of sediment transport by humans ellipses that of glaciers and rivers combined.  This simple picture endeavors to capture this concept.  Humankind has literally bulldozed its way into a new geological era, the Anthropocene.

[1] W. E. Dietrich and J. T. Perron, The search for a topographic signature of life, Nature, 439, 411-418, 2006.

[2] R. LeB. Hooke, On the history of humans as geomorphic agents, Geology, 28, 843-846, 2000.


The sinking bubbles in Guinness and stouts in general have intrigued drinkers and scientists alike.  Research into this phenomena has been highlighted before on this blog (post linked here).  The latest research published in arxiv (academic paper linked here) demonstrates the importance of the shape of the glass in generating the fluid circulation necessary for the creation of the sinking bubbles.  Numerical simulations and experimentation show that the standard pint glass which has a narrower base cause the falling bubble effect whereas a glass that has a larger base does not i.e. results in rising bubbles.  Essentially the small (nitrogen, as opposed to carbon dioxide used in most beers) bubbles are being carried along by the local fluid motion in the glass and the shape of the glass influences the circulation of the beer as it is poured determining a sinking or rising bubble effect.  More explanation is provided in a BBC news article here.

What are climate models?  The UK Met. Office explains:

Here is our wonderful planet (or the northern hemisphere part at least!). Images taken from the Russian Elcctro-L satellite every 30 minutes are stitched together to make this video.

The geostationary weather satellite takes the highest resolution images of our planet, they are single shot photos. The images consist of visible and near-infrared wavelengths (e.g. vegetation is red not as the human eye sees it).

More details are provided here.

Here is another beautiful movie showing ocean fluid patterns (previous post here).  This time we have a numerical simulation of the discharge of fresh water from the Amazon River entering the saltwater of the Atlantic Ocean.  The ocean model (Mercator Ocean) simulates sea surface temperatures over a 3 year period.

HT FYFluidDynamics

This blog post gathers together recent data and information on University Professor salaries in North America.  I happen to have just accepted an Assistant Professor position at Trinity Western University in British Columbia, Canada which (unfortunately for me) has the lowest salaries in all of Canada.  I was aware of this before I got the job and choose to work here for reasons outside of pay.  However, it is a slight consolation to know that academics in Canada on average are the best paid in the world (taking into account cost of living differences).  This according to a new book

Paying the Professoriate: A Global Comparison of Compensation and Contracts

more details and a global league table can be found in this New York Times article on the book.

All sorts of useful data on University (teaching/academic) salaries in the United States including averages by discipline, career stage, region, and type/size of University can be accessed through The Chronicle of Higher Education:

For full-time teachers at Canadian Universities 201o-2011 statistics (mean, median, 10th and 90th percentile, maximum and minimum) for each rank at every University in Canada is provided in a report by Statistics Canada:

If you want to be really nosy, in British Columbia, you can find out the pay of the highest paid public employers (those who earn over ~$75,000 CAD), including individual professors at the public universities.  Search the database (data currently from fiscal year 2010/2011) compiled by the Vancouver Sun:

I’ve read the first book and am looking forward to reading the next two.  I thought the film was excellent, really well done, especially the scene leading up to the entrance into the arena which was extraordinary gripping.  The book and the film are so good in that they challenge long after you’ve finished.  In many ways the world of the hunger games resembles exploitation happening today in our own world.  I’m left with a lingering realization of my own compliance and everyday acceptance of the injustices in our world.

If your interested in some of these provoking themes check out the following links:

Julia Clawson has written what sounds like an excellent commentary on the hunger games trilogy.  The book (currently only an e-book) is called The Hunger Games and the Gospel: Bread, Circuses, and the Kingdom of God.   Homebrewed Christinity interviewed her on their Theology Nerd Throwdown podcast – well worth a listen, here’s the link.

Jesus in ‘The Hunger Games’ a magazine article in Christianity Today

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