Wednesday, February 01, 2006

An Introduction

The photo above depicts this young blog’s namesake, the “wormy” intergrowth of feldspar and quartz that is referred to as myrmekite. For the petrographically unititiated, I should explain that a chunk of rock may be attached to a glass slide and ground to a thickness of ~30 microns, at which point the character of the transmitted light when observed with a petrographic microscope is diagnostic of the minerals present. The above “photomicrograph” is of a sample gathered from Granite Falls, Minnesota, where we observed evidence of a basaltic dike injected into a granitic pluton that was not fully cooled. This resulted in some melting of the already-crystallized granitic assemblage. The observed myrmekite rims a grain of alkali feldspar, which partially remelted in response to the nearby injection of hot basaltic magma. The resulting melt, upon cooling, simultaneously crystallized quartz and albite, leading to the beautiful texture above. This might serve as a reminder not to take granite at face value (geologists will note my avoidance of the obligatory pun), but rather to hammer and saw at it until you can appreciate its inner beauty.

I could explain that myrmekite is intended to evoke my writing style, in a space devoted to the complex interworkings of science, politics and culture, or I could simply own up to the fact that I consider petrography quite fascinating, the picture quite attractive, and the name kinda catchy. I hope, as you get to know me, I might say the same of myself and my writings. This blog will concentrate upon the topics of science in general, geology and biology in particular, and how they may cross over into public life from time to time. I may be opinionated… I may be informative and correct or I may (shudder) be wrong now and again, but in either event, enjoy yourselves!


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