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So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.


The Profile


Zanzibar
Age. 33
Gender. Female
Ethnicity. that of my father and his father before him
Location Altadena, CA
School. Other
» More info.
The World









The Link To Zanzibar's Past
This is my page in the beloved art community that my sister got me into:

Samarinda

Extra points for people who know what Samarinda is.
The Phases of the Moon Module
CURRENT MOON
Croc Hunter/Combat Wombat
My hero(s)
Only My Favorite Baseball Player EVER


Aw, Larry Walker, how I loved thee.
The Schedule
M: Science and Exploration
T: Cook a nice dinner
W: PARKOUR!
Th: Parties, movies, dinners
F: Picnics, the Louvre
S: Read books, go for walks, PARKOUR
Su: Philosophy, Religion
The Reading List
This list starts Summer 2006
A Crocodile on the Sandbank
Looking Backwards
Wild Swans
Exodus
1984
Tales of the Alhambra (in progress)
Dark Lord of Derkholm
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
The Lost Years of Merlin
Harry Potter a l'ecole des sorciers (in progress)
Atlas Shrugged (in progress)
Uglies
Pretties
Specials
A Long Way Gone (story of a boy soldier in Sierra Leone- met the author! w00t!)
The Eye of the World: Book One of the Wheel of Time
From Magma to Tephra (in progress)
Lady Chatterley's Lover
Harry Potter 7
The No. 1 Lady's Detective Agency
Introduction to Planetary Volcanism
A Child Called "It"
Pompeii
Is Multi-Culturalism Bad for Women?
Americans in Southeast Asia: Roots of Commitment (in progress)
What's So Great About Christianity?
Aeolian Geomorphology
Aeolian Dust and Dust Deposits
The City of Ember
The People of Sparks
Cube Route
When I was in Cuba, I was a German Shepard
Bound
The Golden Compass
Clan of the Cave Bear
The 9/11 Commission Report (2nd time through, graphic novel format this time, ip)
The Incredible Shrinking Man
Twilight
Eclipse
New Moon
Breaking Dawn
Armageddon's Children
The Elves of Cintra
The Gypsy Morph
Animorphs #23: The Pretender
Animorphs #25: The Extreme
Animorphs #26: The Attack
Crucial Conversations
A Journey to the Center of the Earth
A Great and Terrible Beauty
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
Dandelion Wine
To Sir, With Love
London Calling
Watership Down
The Invisible
Alice in Wonderland
Through the Looking Glass
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
The Host
The Hunger Games
Catching Fire
Shadows and Strongholds
The Jungle Book
Beatrice and Virgil
Infidel
Neuromancer
The Help
Flip
Zion Andrews
The Unit
Princess
Quantum Brain
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
No One Ever Told Us We Were Defeated
Delirium
Memento Nora
Robopocalypse
The Name of the Wind
The Terror
Sister
Tao Te Ching
What Paul Meant
Lao Tzu and Taoism
Libyan Sands
Sand and Sandstones
Lost Christianites: The Battles for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew
The Science of God
Calculating God
Great Contemporaries, by Winston Churchill
City of Bones
Around the World in 80 Days, by Jules Verne
Divergent
Stranger in a Strange Land
The Old Man and the Sea
Flowers for Algernon
Au Bonheur des Ogres
The Martian
The Road to Serfdom
De La Terre à la Lune (ip)
In the Light of What We Know
Devil in the White City
2312
The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August
Red Mars
How to Be a Good Wife
A Mote in God's Eye


want to read: Last Hunger Games Book, Honeybee Democracy, The Bell Jar
The Juanes Module


Juanes just needed his own mod. Who can disagree.
Ice Rheology
Monday. 9.21.09 9:39 pm
The journey of water molecules from snow to ice is not always a linear one.

Imagine a stack of spheres. You drop all of the spheres haphazardly into a pile, and then shake them around a little bit until they settle into their lowest energy state-- that is, they achieve "perfect packing". Perfect rhombohedral packing, to be exact.



The story is much more complicated with snow, you see, because a snowflake is about the furthest shape you can get from a sphere.



As snow falls into a pile, the snowflakes on the bottom are put under pressure from the ones above. They are also insulated from the cold surrounding atmosphere by their mates. At their spindly edges, the snowflakes begin to buckle, break and deform, becoming more like spheres. They settle slightly due to gravity, eliminating large empty spaces. They also start to melt just slightly, especially at the pointed edges. They call it "cintering". Over time the snowflakes are cintered and deformed until they form a kind of snowflake lattice, where all of the snowflakes form the walls of cavities filled with air. Eventually these cavities break or shrink, putting greater and greater pressure on the air. Air is a gas and eminently compressible, so it shrinks and shrinks in volume along with its shrinking cavity. As the layers of snow build up above, the layers at the bottom are under so much pressure that the air pockets close.

Unable to escape, the air is forced to somehow become a part of the molecular lattice of the ice. One way to do this is to dissolve, sometimes splitting into component atoms and existing in the empty spaces between atoms in the ice lattice. The other way is to squeeze into cage-like molecular structures called "clathrates". Clathrates in this case are a collection of water molecules that form a cage around an empty space. All kinds of molecules can find their way here such as methane, sulfur species, or air.

Climate scientists often attempt to use the bubbles trapped in the ice as a measure of what the atmosphere was like when the bubbles were closed off from the environment way back when the ice was still made of snow. In this technique you are limited to snow that hasn't completely become ice yet (it is called "firn"). In order to get at the climate of times long long ago, climate scientists investigate the atmospheric gases trapped in the clathrate structures.

Both of these techniques are very clever, but the fact that air comes in and out of the firn quite a lot during its compaction into ice means that the resolution on the exact date of that atmospheric composition can sometimes be shockingly bad. After all, it can take 80-90 years for snow to become ice, and all that time the firn is interacting with the atmosphere and smearing out the atmospheric signal. In one case at the Russian base in Antarctica (Vostok), the date at which the atmosphere was trapped has an error bar of up to 490 years! The exactness of the ice dates is directly dependent on the accumulation rate of snow at the site. If new snowflakes and atmospheric bubbles are buried very quickly, they will turn to ice more quickly and the smearing effect will be less. If the accumulation rate is slow, the snow and firn will sit there circulating atmosphere in and out of pore space for hundreds of years, smearing out all of the climate signal during that time.

For more information, see the awesome book by Paterson, 1981 The Physics of Glaciers

Comment! (6) | Recommend! (1)

If Death Were a Number, I Would Be Aleph-Zero
Sunday. 9.20.09 9:39 pm
"Yes"
"No"
"Yes"
"No"
"Yes yes yes!"
"No No No!"
"Yes times infinity!"
"No times infinity to the infinity!"

Have you ever had this argument? Probably most of us has. It is possible that at the time we sat and pondered exactly how much infinity times infinity was, and if it were really possible to add infinities together or take infinities to the power of other infinities. What does infinity really mean, anyway, and can we ever hope to wrap our minds around it?

It is also possible that some hitting and kicking and punching and pulling of hair ensued, though whether this was an outgrowth of the fundamental frustration of the human mind to conceive of infinity, I cannot say.

So there are several different kinds of infinity.

Imagine the natural numbers, let's say, "1, 2, 3, 4, 5...etc." They go on into infinity, non?

But let's imagine the rational numbers, that is, numbers that can be represented using fractions, like 1/2, 1/3, or 7/22. How many of those are there? Also an infinite number!

But despite the fact that the rationals and the naturals are infinite in number, we say that they are also "countable". How can something be infinite and yet countable? Well that depends on your definition of "countable". Sure, you could never count to infinity in your lifetime or an infinite number of lifetimes. But on the other hand, everyone can start counting to infinity in the natural numbers and be absolutely certain that they aren't missing any. 1, 2, 3, 4... there aren't any natural numbers between 1 2 3 or 4 that you would be missing. In the same way you could count the rationals, making a grid where you had 1/1, 2/1, 3/1, etc. going horizontally and 1/1, 1/2, 1/3, etc. going vertically and you could ostensibly get all of the rational numbers in existence, because after all, the rationals are just combinations of the naturals. You would probaby get an infinity on the order of infinity times infinity. It would still be countable: you could start counting up rationals and be sure you aren't missing any.

However, if you made it your goal to count the real numbers, you would immediately run into a big problem. What problem is this? Well imagine we wanted to begin by counting up all the real numbers between 0 and 1. We could start with 0.01, and then go up to 0.02. But if we did that, we'd be missing all the numbers like 0.001 or 0.0000001 or 0.0000023343434 that lie between 0.0 and 0.01 and 0.02. In fact, between any two real numbers, there exists an infinite number of real numbers, because you could just extend those decimal places out as far as you like, in whatever combinations you can imagine, making however many numbers as you like between 0 and 1. This, to be sure, is a new kind of infinity. This is an uncountable kind of infinity, and as you may have guessed, its magnitude is far greater than the normal kind of infinity that you just imagined when we were counting natural numbers or rational numbers.

Mathematicians, thinking of this idea for the first time, decided to differentiate between different magnitudes of infinity. They called infinity after the Hebrew letter "aleph". For the regular old type of countable infinity, they chose the term Aleph-Zero. Most types of infinity that one encounters fit into this term. Even if someone made some kind of proclamation like, "Infinity times infinity" or "infinity to the infinity", they would all still fall under the countable kind of infinity of Aleph-Zero.
Even when we discuss the number of real numbers, we can say that the number of digits available to use for each number is Aleph-Zero, because we can say that there is one digit, there are two digits, three, four, and not be missing any in between. But each one of an infinite number of numbers can have Aleph-Zero digits, so we know we are dealing with a much larger form of infinity.

The number of real numbers fits under the term Aleph-One.

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Welcome
Thursday. 9.17.09 7:08 pm


A geologist friend of mine got to actually go to Zanzibar. How unfair is that?

Comment! (8) | Recommend!

Looking Backwards
Wednesday. 9.16.09 1:56 pm
Now that I had become suddenly sensible of the fatuity of the hopes I had begun to cherish, I suffered not merely what another lover might, but in addition a desolate loneliness, an utter forlornness, such as no other lover, however unhappy, could have felt.

---Looking Backwards, by Edward Bellamy

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A Notice of Withdrawal from Public Life
Tuesday. 9.15.09 10:22 pm
Well, the semester has begun and as usual I'm in way over my head. I've decided that my only recourse is to withdraw completely from public life.

I have taken my former list for this semester:

Take Mathematical Methods for Engineers and Physicists
Take Glacial Dynamics
Read about radar
Secretly take Music Theory
Javanese Gamelan
Go to the gym
Flamenco Dancing
Learn Kiswahili or Turkish
Cake Decorating
Contra Dancing
Lion Dancing
Hip-hop dance
Greek dancing
Church
Grad/Med Christian Fellowship
Theological meeting group
Backrub Club
Finish 3 papers
Prepare for Antarctica
RIYR
Hang out with friends
Graduate Student Council
Pleasure reading
Nutang
Sleep

and I have narrowed it down to this:

Audit Mathematical Methods for Engineers and Physicists
Audit Glacial Dynamics
Read about radar only when I can't stand to read about anything else
Javanese gamelan
Go to the gym
Theological meeting group only once a month
Backrub Club x3 (only enough so I don't get thrown out)
Finish 2 papers
Prepare for Antarctica
Nutang
Sleep

I'm still not sure I can fit all that in before I leave for Antarctica. Note how I left "sleep" in there, aren't I optimistic? And Nutang... well, it seems like the time I spend on here goes up the busier I am, so that one gets to stay.

But at least today I got PQ'd!! (I am Physically Qualified for deployment to Antarctica according to their teams of physicians!)

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Blinded by Science
Sunday. 9.13.09 9:57 am
I think I'm in danger of becoming my professors.

Last night I came home early from a cocktail party because I was tired and I find people who have been drinking tiresome. But on the way home I had to stop myself from driving to work and working on my research project. This morning I woke up and lay in bed, thinking about extra loops I could add to my code to increase its efficiency and checks I could make to see where I'm having numerical overflows and why. I walk into the bathroom and I'm thinking about ground-penetrating radar, the shapes of ash particles, where I can get some seives with different sizes of holes so that I can get an idea of grain size versus distance from the volcano out in Antarctica. I want to go search for some papers to read about Mt. Erebus, Mars, radar, thermal infrared. I want to buy a time-lapse device for my camera so I can monitor the winds from our field site. I feel like a detective, with pictures and statements pinned on a bulletin board. I feel like I am on the verge of putting the whole puzzle together at last and solving the mystery.

I have a lengthy daydream where I get up in front of the people in my field and inform them that anytime they need me to simulate a volcanic eruption for them, they can just let me know and I'll do it. They'll find that so convenient. I imagine them coming up to me afterwards with their favorite volcanoes. We'll become friends and collaborators. I'm a little frustrated that I've scheduled a bunch of social activities for today which will delay my efforts to work until Monday.

WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO ME!?!?!?

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WHITEOUT
Saturday. 9.12.09 11:06 pm
Some of the Antarctica people got together today to go to REI to buy some supplies. I didn't buy much, because Target is much cheaper than REI, but I took a look around at everything to make sure that it wasn't leagues better than what I was about to go buy at Target.

Then to get ourselves in the mood we went to the movies and saw Whiteout, the new movie about a mad killer at the South Pole. It was actually pretty awesome, especially because they had amazing shots of Antarctica and the whole thing took place just as winter was setting in, so the entire movie the sun was just below the horizon in the "day", like a ghostly twilight. They had cool shots of the aurora australis, too! Oh how I wish I could see that! The whole thing was set at South Pole Station and they included all these little details about life at the Pole that really happen, like the parties people have and the gear that they have to wear and the people who go streaking outside and the Happy Camper School where they try to scare the bejeezus out of all the n00bs while teaching them how to survive in emergency situations. Mark #3 and I both really want to try and go to South Pole Station for New Year's because apparently they have a big party and then they go out and move the South Pole, because every year it moves about 30 feet because of the shifting ice so they go and put it back at the geographical pole. The South Pole! Think of it!

So we spent the rest of the day trying to figure out which one of the people in our group would be the serial killer. We thought that probably the new kid would be the first to be killed, and then everyone would suspect J, but the real killer would probably be Mark #3 because he's the one that everyone would least suspect. No one ever suspected that it would be me, of course, but I think I was going to be the heroine of the story so naturally I can't turn out to be guilty. Luckily we'll all be in the Dry Valleys where there are no Whiteouts and there is no need to be carrying around ice picks.

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Young Republicans
Friday. 9.11.09 12:07 am
He's a Brown grad, the founder of the one conservative newspaper at an overwhelmingly liberal school. He's wearing a suit. In the years since graduation he's been writing news stories for a local right-leaning paper in New Hampshire. Over the summer he's been doing a little grant-writing for a conservative think-tank in Rhode Island. He wants me to meet so-and-so, important person this-and-that.

I think about this rich old lady I once waited upon at a fundraiser who said that all the Young Republicans were clones.

I ask him what kind of writing he'd really like to do if he could do anything. I ask him if he's ever considered writing a novel. He has. I'm interested. About what? He's hesitant, then he answers that it would be a sci-fi novel. He's heard about several ways that the planet could be completely destroyed. He's not sure about the scientific basis of it all, but he heard that an errant black hole could wander into the solar system and suck up the Earth. He'd like to write a novel about that scenario, and how everyone would react to the news that they only had a short time before they got sucked into the black hole. He brings up "The Plague" by Camus, which was one of my favorite required readings in high school. Instead of everyone being trapped inside a walled city, it would be like everyone was trapped inside the Earth. He'd write about the chaos that ensued and all the different reactions that people would have.

I'm hooked.

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