Friday, 1 March 2013

A Rock Solid Month

I have to admit that this month’s “ology” subject in the earth science I’m most interested in – geology. In fact, it’s the only science subject I have any qualifications in. My interest in rocks, minerals and fossils began at an early age. As a toddler I was often found digging a hole in the flower beds with my bare hands (I’ve got it on a home movie to prove it!). Even when the family went to the seaside on holiday I was more interested in the sand and pebbles than the sea or anything else (except, perhaps, candy floss!).

Included with this moth’s ology is palaeontology. As well as having quite a large rock and mineral collection I have a few fossils, so I’ll be looking at lgbt fossil and dinosaur hunters as well as an assortment of geologists, vulcanologists and seismologists.

March is also Women’s History Month, and International Women’s Day is on the 8th. I shall be looking at some of the notable and influential female lgbt scientists and tying in my Ology of the Month with 2 of them. There’ll also be a couple of other posts on women’s history which are not about science.

In a way some ancient civilisations believed the whole of mankind was part of the geological world. The old Hebrew scriptures that made their way into the Bible give the familiar story of how God created man out of clay which is, after all, soft, soggy rock. The Maori creation myths also have man being created from a geological source – red ochre. The Arabs believed that God created angels from diamonds, emeralds, rubies and sapphires. I’ve mentioned angels several times before in my blog in relation to their asexual, androgynous nature.

For quite a few years after the beginnings of geology as a proper science geologists were considered to be rather eccentric. Clambering up mountains with hammers, staring at cliffs, and picking up pebbles were just some of the activities which non-geologists of the early 19th century considered weird behaviour. After all, they thought, a rock is a rock is a rock. But how far would the Industrial Revolution have got without rocks – coal, iron ore and limestone.

The eccentricity is perfectly illustrated in the extraordinary life of Transylvanian aristocrat and fossil hunter Baron Franz Nopcsa. Not only was he thought to be a bit eccentric just for being a fossil hunter, he has also acquired a genuine eccentricity because of his desire to become King of Albania! Just how much of a reality this became will be told later this month.

As well as Baron Franz Nopcsa I’ll write a couple of posts on four other geologists – 2 men and 2 women.

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