Geology as a surprisingly good topic?

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Joined: 26 Apr 2009
Gender: Male
Posts: 7,224
Location: Houston, Texas

22 Jul 2009, 6:34 pm

At age 46, I have been considering going back to school and have been browsing books at a local university library, somewhat reviewing classes and course schedules I used to have, including high school. In college, I got into philosophy and secondarily into psychology. Now I find myself considering science.

Okay, leafing through geology books, really more right-braining them than anything else, the pictures and diagrams, often excellent, and text, often not so good. A book like "T. rex and the Crater of Doom" by Alvarez and Zimmer which I read about five years ago is different, the authors take more of a chance and aren't writing such an academically safe book.

Geology has color, plot, drama. You can at least theoretically hold much of the stuff in your hands and/or get your face right up against. Some examples . . .

I didn't know that we had a rift valley right here in the United States as the Rio Grande goes up through New Mexico (and in geologic time will split the North American plate).

I didn't know the evidence for plate tectonics was as early as it was, around 1967 or '68. And what a slam dunk it was, once you got the zebra stripping of magnetic bands symmetrical on both sides of the mid oceanic ridge, that was it, even though the zebra stripes were all crumbled up by transform faults.

I didn't know that the Canary Islands had the potential for a big landslide and potentially, potentially big tsunamis that would be really bad for Africa, Europe North America; or perhaps not--- ... 234801.htm

and possible, the same potential off the Big Island of Hawaii with the undersea mount of Loihi. (Okay, it's a big number multiplied by a small number. We probably want to do something, and in this case, doing something means some amount of continued research, that is, not letting the issue go completely stale.)


When I went back to college in 1997 and took calculus, I experimented with pre-studying and staying a section in the chapter ahead of the professor. I largely avoided the problem of losing the thread of what he was saying and then being thoroughly bored the rest of the class. (And it also helped that I had previously taken and passed calculus in 1983.)

I understand that the second semester of geology---Historical Geology (the History of the Earth)---is the really hard one. This would duplicate calculus in which the second semester is much intellectually substantial (and maybe too fast) than the first. I also understand organic chemistry is this way, with the second semester being much harder.


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Joined: 2 Jul 2004
Age: 41
Gender: Male
Posts: 42,315
Location: Houston, Texas

22 Jul 2009, 6:54 pm

I agree with it being a fun topic. It used to be my major, but I changed it to geography/urban planning.

Who’s better at math than a robot? They’re made of math!