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I'm a consulting geologist for a small company in the Denver area. I study problems related to active tectonics, using geomorphology, structural geology and remote sensing.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

order in chaos

the study of geomorphology is crazy. one of the papers we went over in seminar this morning (Lawrence, J. P., and B. T. Werner, Fracture networks in frozen ground, J. Geophys. Res., 106, 8599-8613, 2001) describes the authors' attempts to boil a fairly complex and not-well-understood permafrost ground pattern, resulting from frost heaving and cracking, into a simple (well, ok... not so simple) computational model. essentially they, and many other geomorphologists, describe what appear as chaotic and random patterns in nature with mathematical equations that (at least in models) produce the observed patterns, to a first order approximation. it's publications like these that make me wish i had a stronger mathematical background. i can understand them when i read them, but as soon as i try to produce something like this myself i am utterly at a loss. ...so instead i run back to my protractors and rulers and colored pencils and start drawing structural cross sections. i suppose (actually, i know) that some people are completely befuddled by things like stereographic projections and palinspatic base maps (my bread and butter), but i still experience math-envy on a regular basis.

referring to a different sort of chaos... i suggest folks check out this site. particularly with the recent snows in colorado, lots of people have been parking like morons. bad parking skills is one of my pet peeves about americans... if you've ever been to europe, you know what i'm talking about. i've seen spanish drivers who could park a dumptruck in a spot designed for a smart-car and still have room to spare on either end. i myself have been complemented on my parallel parking skills in the past... one of my passengers looked over at me when i had finished parking in less than ten seconds and said, "you really are from new york, aren't you?!" well, i wish i could say all new yorkers, or all city dwellers, can park well - it's just not true. the site has some great diagrams of classic parking infractions (my favorite is the, "you call that a compact?" one) and tips on how not to park like an as$#0le.


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