Tuesday, August 30, 2011

but I thought such things were fiction

Although I have been busy enough with other aspects of my life that I haven't been doing much science of my own (unless you count kitchen baking experiments) I am continuing to read the various emails I get from geology lists. The list for people who are part of the mineralogical society of America has often proved to be an interesting one. One of yesterday's posts was no exception. It mentions a revolutionary invention for decomposing rocks into individual mineral grains, a plasma discharge device, which was shown at the Goldschmidt conference in Davos a few years ago.

The poster reports that "The action is based on the fact that the electric conductivity is elevated on grain boundaries and a plasma discharge at 50 keV proved to break up a variety of rocks into single crystals. The rocks included a metamorphic shale (greenschist facies) with amphiboles, garnets, sulfides, etc; a marble broke into perfect calcite rhombohedra, sphalerite and galena crystals - an amorphous shungite delivered intriguing round graphitic aggregates plus much fine grained graphite."

Plasma discharge? Really? That sounds like something I heard about on Star Trek as a child, but would have assumed was naught more than "technobabble". It is kind of delightful to hear that such things really exist. I would love to see such a toy—what a great way to isolate garnets or monazite for further analysis. Though, sadly, one would lose all of the wonderful information available from in-situ analysis, perhaps the larger amount of statistical information to be obtained by getting all of the grains in the sample in their whole form might make up for that.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

and the adventures continue

My mandatory holiday in Australia, wherein I applied for my visa to move permanently to Scandinavia to live with my partner, turned out to be only three weeks long. This was a long time to be separated from him, but only just long enough to accomplish what I wanted to with the trip. In between visiting with friends and family I managed to get what feels like a good draft of my paper from my PhD research written and handed in to my adviser for his edits/comments, and had some very good discussions with him about the research/experiments I did in Italy that will be useful when I return to finishing up the paper from that project. But before I do that it is time to enjoy the rest of my love's summer holiday with him, and go camping at the Medieval Week in Gotland. Time enough to return to being a scientist after indulging personal interests.

and the adventures continue

My mandatory holiday in Australia, wherein I applied for my visa to move permanently to Scandinavia to live with my partner, turned out to be only three weeks long. This was a long time to be separated from him, but only just long enough to accomplish what I wanted to with the trip. In between visiting with friends and family I managed to get what feels like a good draft of my paper from my PhD research written and handed in to my adviser for his edits/comments, and had some very good discussions with him about the research/experiments I did in Italy that will be useful when I return to finishing up the paper from that project. But before I do that it is time to enjoy the rest of my love's summer holiday with him, and go camping at the Medieval Week in Gotland. Time enough to return to being a scientist after indulging personal interests.