Category: Geology

August Events! (by )

August dates: Thurs 3rd Cuddly Science goes to Country File Live, Sun 6th running a Poetry Workshop at Waterstones Gloucester 2-4, Tuesday 8th Villanelles SpaceHoppers Stroud 6:30 for Poetry, weekend 11-13th Cranham Feast doing various, Sun 20th True Believers Comic Festival: Summer Variant Edition in Gloucester for my zines/books/art prints and cosplay etc..., Mon 21st Villanelles Chelteham for poetry performance, Thurs 31 Villanelles Gloucester running free poetry workshop during the first hour. I think that is everything - the Soulfull Festival has sadly been cancelled and then September sees me back with craft workshops and history talks!

Mary Leakey – The Puppet! (by )

Cuddly Science has a new puppet 🙂 Mary Leakey - an paleoanthropologist who along with various other members of her family and team found alot of the early homonid fossils and moved our understanding of our own evolution on in leaps and bounds.

Mary Leakey the puppet reading one of her favourite books

Mary Leakey was one of my science heroes when I was a teen - during my GCSEs and A'levels I read all the books the library had or could get on her discoveries. And she was in the original list of ten puppets to make for Cuddly Science. My Mum and Dad worked on her mainly in secret for me, knowing I was uber busy with things.

Mary Leakey the puppet with one of her creators Angie Pym

She also doubles as a general geologist, archeologist and explorer! Which is just what I needed with various archeology festivals and geology based workshops coming up this summer!

Sarah Snell-Pym Cuddly Science Cheltenham Science Festival

The puppet was in fact barely finished before it was being whizzed off to the Cheltenham Science Festival to help explain the Cheltenham Hackspace's magic sand box!

Geology Puppet showing off the sand projector

This 3D projector that maps the sand contours in real time and projects and ever updating graded colour system on top was amazing! I do have video but haven't worked out how to extract it from my phone etc...

Geologist puppet is at the sand

We had over 10, 000 kids through the Makers Shack at the festival which was amazing and also exhausting! Mary Leakey and Ada Lovelace both enjoyed their outings and I have a hell of a lot more photos and vids to put up from the festival including trying to launch a robot into near Earth orbit! But for now I shall end with this pic of Mary Leakey chilling and relaxing behind the scenes.

Mary Leakey the puppet chilling behind the scense at the Cheltenham Science Festival

Cephalopod Week 2017! (by )

Cephalopods are things like squid, octopi, cuttle fish and the nautilus or at least that is all there are today in the rock record it is quiet another matter. Ammonites with their curly shells pretty much ruled the seas at one point and were so wide spread and abundant and varied that we use them as markers in the geologic record i.e. you know what type of ammonite you've got - you know the time period the rock was formed.

Ammonite Ink Sketch

I love my fossil cephalopods (lit. head on legs) and the modern ones are pretty amazing too!

There are so many videos on youtube of them doing amazing things like escaping from jars and squeezing through very small gaps, mimicking walking and so on.

The Natural History Museum London has an entire twitter feed dedicated to cephalopods which is well worth a look and can be found here.

The Guardian has an article on Snake Stones i.e. our friends the ammonites again, which you can find here 🙂

The New York Times has an interesting article on the genetics and intelligence of squids and octopuses, which is stuff I am putting straight into one of science fiction stories as it really is quiet weird! You can find that article here.

Ever since I was a child I've loved the way cuttlefish skin changes colour, squid skin is pretty fab too 🙂

I also have one crotchet squid for my hair and one cuddly octopus for snuggling that have been given to me - surprisingly they are both purple 😉

Over at ChemKnits they happen to have collected a load of free patterns for our cephalopod friends which you can find here.

The drawing sheet still needs some work done on it but will soon be up for free down load though sadly not this week. I will also be creating two different boarders for it - one for workshops and one for the third of my adult colouring in books - Colouring Rocks!

Enjoy what's left of Cephalopod Week and I will try and do better next year 🙂

The Rock Pools (by )

(Back blogged due to server migration issues)

Rock pool

On the last day beach outing in South Africa we came across the rock pools with many and varied creatures, some bright and some not so bright.

Clam Anenome fish

There were anenomes, barnicals, fish, clams, many bright shells and so on. Though some where deeper than others and all had fresh (though sea salty) water washing over them as we stood there watching. Some were deeper than others.

Algea and sea weed

Mary was most taken with the red anenome 🙂

Red Anenome

I liked the fact that the ripples in the sea water cast little rainbows even over the more subtly coloured creatures like this clam.

Clam South Africa

And as promised here are the fish 🙂 or some of the fish anyway 🙂

Fish South Africa

I probably would not have found the rock pools if Lionel had not pointed them out as they are sunk into fractures in the rocks which are slippery with algea. They were worth the slipping risk!

Finding the rockpools

The girls loved the rockpools

Finding Rockpools

Alaric spent ages with them looking in their wibbly wobbly depths 🙂

Looking in the rock pools

I just loved how you could see a whole little ecosystem there contained in a cradle of rock 🙂 It made me miss Ewan Laurie lessons and paleobiology and being shown byssal threads on field trips 🙂 I may have board the kids with all this along with dentition and muscle scars on shells which apparently I tell them everytime we are at a beach (oops!).

Rockpool South Africa

We actually came home with a book on the oceanic life in South Africa and I will attempt to look up some of what we saw. It also made me determined to do more with the poems and stories I've written about rock pools in the past 🙂

Beach Rocks! (by )

(Back blogged due to server migration)

Exploring South Africa

I love rocks, stones, minerals, landscapes... South Africa was already under my skin for it is the home of the Cradle of Humankind and though we did not manage to go and visit it I know of it and about it and as a teen I read every book our library and the library network had to offer me on human origins and various homonid ancestors. My entire Punk In Pink novel series is based on an alternative history that comes from the fossil gap.

Cormarents

But more than any of that - South Africa has rocks!!! It has many and varied rocks and landscapes that show the origin of those rocks so vividly. Even the birds love the rocks!

The Boulders

The thing is that I am a geologist, yes I am not in industry or working for an institution but I was a geologist way before I ever set foot in Imperial College, and even before I did A'level geology. I was the child that collected stones and shells and leaves and stones and fossils because they were stone shells and leaves and tried to make her take a fossil home from the Welsh Mountains that was bigger than me at the age of 5.

Rising boulder

So I took a lot of photos of rocks and how they fit in the landscape and sometimes you can see write small what is write large like contacts between rock types or the way fractures behave.

Contact

I feared that not being active in the field and not studying would mean I could no longer read the landscape, I feared the head injury may have robbed me of what vestage of that ability I had left. But the more we explored, the more I looked, the more I saw, the more the puzzle pieces fell into place.

granite boulder

And once I saw the shape of how it was I began to look for and read the geology of the area - out of books and a map Alaric's Dad and Lynn showed me. I can not tell you the joy of having read that landscape correctly - true I may not be able to tell at a glance what a rock is exactly anymore but I still know enough to tell the rough how it foamed and why it is structured the way it is.

Feldspar

And I might have really liked the feldspars on the beach boulders and the quartz and the mica... and I might have tried to get the girls to look at them and they may have been more interested in the fish (don't worry I took a photo of the fish but you'll have to wait for another post for that one!).

rock in the sea

But Mary would scamper off and find me things and drag me to them and make me look and tell her and Jean would pretend to not be interested but then collected some stones for later...

Boulders at the Boulders

And yes these photos are all from our beach adventure on that last day and believe me if the camera battery hadn't gone flat I would have taken more. I still recall the chinmey climb to the sea we walked past and on other days preserved ripples and fossils and so so much more which I did not get photos of or have come out blurry and which there was no time to sketch.

Interesting weathering

I love rocks but I know most people don't so I have tried to limit the rocky outcrops... I mean posts on them 😀

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