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The Writing of Stones by Roger Caillois

Surrealist and Sociologist Roger Caillois was known for his writings on biomimicry, especially within the insect world, pareidolia and lithic scrying. His latter interest provided us with The Writing of Stones, a book in which he unravels the ‘unfathomable graphic madness’ etched onto the rocks contained within the ‘archives of geology’. Each chapter of the book is dedicated to a species of rock – in each he channels ever increasingly dense, extravagant, and at times morbid tales from the authorless inscriptions each stone contains.

“Life appears: a complex dampness, destined to an intricate future and charged with secret virtues, capable of challenge and creation. A kind of precarious slime, of surface mildew, in which a ferment is already working. A turbulent, spasmodic sap, a presage and expectation of a new way of being, breaking with mineral perpetuity and boldly exchanging it for the doubtful privilege of being able to tremble, decay, and multiply.”

About the book, from the flaps:

The Writing of Stones is a fascinating meditation on the human imagination contemplating the interior of stones. Caillois examines patterns that are revealed by polishing sections of minerals such as agate, jasper, and onyx. He considers the impact these configurations have had upon the human imagination throughout history and he reviews man’s attempt to categorize and explain them.

Marguerite Yourcenar [in her introduction] points out that “there had taken place in [his] intellect the equivalent of the Copernican revolution: man was no longer the center of the universe, except in the sense that the center is everywhere; man, like all the rest, was a cog in the whole system of turning wheels. Quite early on, having entered ‘the forbidden laboratories,’ Caillois applied himself to the study of diagonals which link the species, of the recurrent phenomena that act, so to speak as a matrix of forms.” Caillois found the presence throughout the universe of a sensibility and a consciousness analogous to our own. One way which this consciousness expresses itself is in a “natural fantasy” that is evident in the pictures found in stones. Man’s own aesthetic may then be no more than one of many manifestations of an all-pervasive aesthetic that reveals itself in the natural world.

The Writing of Stones PDF

Digital Media · Earthly/Geo/Astro · Photographics · Science · Technology

A Geological Survey of Venus

Topographic Map of Venus

Radar Image Map

Altimetric and Shaded Relief Map

Geomorphic/Geologic Map of the Northern Hemisphere of Venus

(detail)

The Venus Exploration Analysis Group (VEXAG) was established by NASA in July 2005 to identify scientific priorities and strategy for exploration of Venus. VEXAG is currently composed of a chair and five focus groups. The focus groups will actively solicit input from the scientific community. VEXAG will report its findings and provides input to NASA, but will not make recommendations.
The Lunar and Planetary Institute is a research institute that provides support services to NASA and the planetary science community, and conducts planetary science research under the leadership of staff scientists, visiting researchers, and postdoctoral fellows.

All images via Venus Map Catalog

Earthly/Geo/Astro · Performativity · Science · Videos

Lava on Ice, and other Lava Pourings

Geology typically requires a suspension of our everyday sense of time to be appreciated. If you stare at a rock for a minute or two, you’re unlikely to be rewarded with much action—unless you throw it. But that doesn’t do it for everybody.

What does do it for just about everybody is volcanoes. Big, violent volcanoes. Angry mountains spewing their molten guts high into the atmosphere, with fiery blobs and bits flying everywhere. Of course, such sights are preferably taken in through the comforting insulation of a television set—even a relatively calm volcano like Hawaii’s Kilauea demands serious precaution.

Excerpt of an article written by Scott K. Johnson at Ars Technica. Continue HERE

Syracuse University Lava Project

Earthly/Geo/Astro · Human-ities · Technology · Vital-Edible-Health

4 Rare Earth Elements That Will Only Get More Important

Lithium is lionized. Silicon has a whole valley named after it. But what about the silent heroes of modern technology? Rare earth elements—a set of 17 related metals, mostly shunted off to a tacked-on lower line of the periodic table—are crucial to the way we live now; responsible for miniaturizing computers and headphones, powering hybrid cars and more. The time has come to get better acquainted with the molecules that make our modern world run.


Erbium: In the Pink
The applications of erbium are both deeply important, and a little silly. For instance, adding erbium to glass is about the only way to create a stable pink shade. So erbium-doped glass pops up in novelty sunglasses and decorator vases. At the same time erbium keeps information flowing around the globe. Add a little erbium to the optical fibers that carry data in the form of light pulses, and those pulses get amplified. It can also be used as part of the gain medium that amplifies light in a laser. When you do this, you end up with a laser that can be used for dental surgery and skin treatments because it doesn’t build up much heat in the human skin it’s pointed at.

Erbium is a great example of how rare earth elements work in practical applications. You won’t find very many places where a solid chunk of a single rare earth element is being used. Instead, they tend to be things that are added, in small doses, to composites and alloys. In that way, rare earth elements work a bit like vitamins, says Daniel Cordier, mineral commodity specialist with the United States Geological Survey. “Rare earths have really unique chemical and physical properties that allow them to interact with other elements and get results that neither element could get on its own,” he says.

Find about the other 3 at Popular Mechanics
All text and image via Popular Mechanics.