Welcome to Green Comet

These free novels, Creative Commons licensed Green Comet, and its sequels Parasite Puppeteers and The Francesians, tell an expansive story of love and adventure on an inhabited comet. To learn more about the trilogy, and for samples, visit the Welcome Page. To download the books, visit the downloads page.

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Continental Drift

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Public Domain

Alfred Wegener had a lot of evidence for continental drift, but he didn’t have an explanation for how they did it. He had the curious way South America and Africa looked as if they should fit together. This was noticed almost as soon as good maps were available, but it was largely dismissed as coincidence. After all, it would imply that the two land masses had moved apart, and everyone knew that couldn’t happen. The idea was ridiculous.

He also had a geological connection. The rocks of South America and Africa matched up where they would have been joined had they once been a single land mass. It is the same two billion year old rock on the two separate continents.

In a similar example, there is an old mountain range — over 400 million years old — that today has its remnants in the widely separated areas of Canada, Greenland, Ireland, Scotland, England and Scandinavia. When these areas are put together, the so-called Caledonian mountain belt re-emerges.

Old glacial deposits put down during the Permo-Carboniferous glaciation 300 million years ago are found in the present day Antarctica, Africa, Australia, India and South America. The most economical explanation for this is that these continents were gathered around the south pole at the time.

Finally there is the fossil evidence. Often the same type of fossil is found on continents that are separated today, while being found nowhere else. Either this is because the continents drifted apart after the fossils were laid down, or something more improbable happened, such as breeding pairs swimming together to another continent and establishing the species there.

Public Domain

Alfred Wegener was born in 1880 and died in 1930, but his continental drift theory, first put forward in 1912, didn’t achieve wide acceptance until the 1950s. The expanding theory was developed in the four editions of his book, The Origins of Continents and Oceans, accumulating increasingly impressive evidence as it went. The theory had a few supporters, such as Milutin Milankovich, but since Wegener couldn’t come up with a convincing mechanism for how the continents moved, most scientists were sceptical. One even argued that the continents simply couldn’t “plow through” the oceanic crust. They also found fault with the imperfect fit of the jigsaw coastlines, not realizing that he was matching them at their continental shelves, where it is a much better fit.

Paleomagnetism, a new science in the 1950s, produced much evidence to support Wegener. The ancient magnetic field was imprinted in the rocks and can be read today. India is in the northern hemisphere today, but its paleomagnetic signature shows that it was in the southern hemisphere in the past, as predicted by Wegener. As the evidence quickly mounted, and with additional evidence of seafloor spreading, scientists came to accept the theory. Eventually the theory of plate tectonics brought it all together.

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Original upload by en:User:TbowerUSGS animation A08, Public Domain, Link

Today we can directly measure the movement of the continents with the Global Positioning System (GPS.) Alfred Wegener could have used that when he was exploring Greenland, the continent that eventually killed him.

rjb

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The Plainsrunner – Chapters 13 & 14

Mike Gonzales – CC-BY-SA


Chapter 13 is the beginning of Part Two – The City.

Sage finally reaches the city and learns that what Street told her about it is true.

Download chapters 13 & 14 of The Plainsrunner at OliverOnline. (Leza’s post is entitled “The Plainsrunner, Chapter 2″, but we’re really in Part 2, and the chapters are 13 & 14.

rjb

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The Plainsrunner – Chapter 12

Credit: finetooth- CC-BY-SA


Chapter 12 marks the end of Part One.

Adorned with her trophies, Sage continues her trek. It has been about a month and she thinks she must be getting close to her destination, when she comes upon a sentinel tree. She also meets some people, the first she’s seen since she left her village.

My partner hasn’t made a post on her website, so I’m putting the link to the chapter here. I can’t expect you to wait forever, can I?

Download chapter twelve here.

Next week will see the beginning of Part Two – The City.

rjb

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The Plainsrunner – Chapter 11

Credit: finetooth- CC-BY-SA


The serialization of The Plainsrunner continues with Chapter Eleven – The Savage.

After dealing with the day flier, Sage spends some time talking to her glider and trying to figure out what it is. She also explores the savage side of her nature.

Download at OliverOnline.

rjb

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The Plainsrunner – Chapters 9 & 10

Credit: finetooth- CC-BY-SA


It’s another two-chapter week again. Last week Sage began her long trek south, and learned how dangerous it was to be alone out there. This week she has to deal with a persistent day flier that wants to carry her away to its aerie.

Download at OliverOnline.

rjb

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The Plainsrunner – Chapters 7 & 8

Credit: finetooth- CC-BY-SA

There are two chapters again this week. In chapter six, Sage said good-bye to her friend, Tallgrass, then was attacked by a night stalker. This week she begins her long trek south, and learns how dangerous it can be to be alone out there.

Download at OliverOnline.

rjb

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Alzheimer’s and Pollution

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Lilian Calderón-Garcidueñas photo

Researchers have found evidence of a link between living in a polluted megacity and developing Alzheimer’s. (Read my previous Alzheimer Disease posts, one with a correlation to a cynical, distrustful nature, and one looking at the syndrome’s roots early in life.) Autopsies on over 200 people showed signs of the disease in its early stages in individuals less than a year old. If this holds up, then we will have a pathway to the prevention of this horrible affliction.

MISSOULA – A University of Montana researcher and her collaborators have published a new study that reveals increased risks for Alzheimer’s and suicide among children and young adults living in polluted megacities.

“Alzheimer’s disease hallmarks start in childhood in polluted environments, and we must implement effective preventative measures early,” said [Dr. Lilian] Calderón-Garcidueñas, a physician and Ph.D. toxicologist in UM’s (University of Montana) Department of Biomedical and Pharmaceutical Sciences. “It is useless to take reactive actions decades later.”

Overall, the authors have documented an accelerated and early disease process for Alzheimer’s in highly exposed Mexico City residents. They believe the detrimental effects are caused by tiny pollution particles that enter the brain through the nose, lungs and gastrointestinal tract, and these particles damage all barriers and travel everywhere in the body through the circulatory system.

It’s terrible to think that we might be condemning newborns to a horrible death before they’ve even begun to live, but it’s encouraging to realize that we have a potential solution right in front of us.

via Evidence mounts for Alzheimer’s, suicide risks among youth in polluted cities | EurekAlert! Science News

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Alfred Wegener

Alfred Lothar Wegener was born in Berlin, Germany on November 1st, 1880. He was the youngest of the five children of Richard Wegener, clergyman, theologian and classical language teacher. The family was well-off enough to own a vacation home, as well as to afford to educate all their children. Alfred did very well in school and went on to study physics, meteorology and astronomy. He got a doctorate in astronomy in 1905, but had formed a strong interest in the growing disciplines of climatology and meteorology.

Public Domain

Wegener made four expeditions to Greenland in his study of the polar climate, the first in 1906. He built a weather station and made observations using kites and tethered balloons, in addition to the usual instruments. He had his first experience with the killing harshness of Greenland’s climate when the expedition leader and two others died while exploring. He returned to Germany in 1908.

His second expedition to Greenland in 1913 began with a calving glacier that almost wiped it out, and ended with a fortunate and unlikely rescue as their crossing of the interior resulted in their having to eat all of their dogs and ponies before its completion.

His military service in World War One lasted only a few months. He faced fierce fighting, was injured twice and declared unfit for duty. He spent the rest of the war in the meteorological service and published 20 papers by its end. Having published on his ideas about continental drift for the first time in 1912, Wegener followed up with a major work — “The Origin of Continents and Oceans” — in 1915. Interest was small.

After the war he worked as a climatologist and as senior lecturer at the University of Hamburg. In collaboration with Milutin Milankovich, he did pioneering work in a field that would become known as paleoclimatology, where they reconstructed ancient climates. He published the third edition of “The Origin of Continents and Oceans,” provoking discussion of his theory of continental drift, and disparagement by the experts of the day.

By 1924 he attained a position that provided stability for his family, and he was able to concentrate on his studies for the rest of the decade. In 1926 he presented his ideas on continental drift at a symposium in New York, to near-uniform rejection. In 1929 he published the fourth and final edition of “The Origin of Continents and Oceans,” and made his third expedition to Greenland.

Wegener led the 1930 Greenland expedition, his fourth, and his sense of personal responsibility ultimately led to his death. A combination of a late thaw and harsh conditions resulted in the failure of a re-supply mission and the death of Alfred Wegener. His body remains buried where he died.

Public Domain

Alfred Wegener was accomplished at astronomy, meteorology and climatology, but what he is known for today is continental drift. We’ll cover that in more detail in future posts.

rjb

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The Plainsrunner – Chapter 6

Credit: finetooth- CC-BY-SA

Just one chapter this week, since it’s a normal size. Last time, Sage experimented with her glider, and that led to her first encounter with a day flier. In this chapter she spends some time close to the village, not knowing what to do. Finally she comes to grips with her situation and sneaks to the village to say good-bye to her friend Tallgrass. In the darkness of the night, she has a run-in with a night stalker.

Download chapter six here.

rjb

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The Plainsrunner – Chapters 4 & 5

Credit: finetooth- CC-BY-SA

There are two chapters together today, because one of them is pretty small. In chapter three, Sage learned a little about the artifact, but just enough to make her wonder even more. Today she experiments a little with it, and has her first experience with a day flier. As her exile becomes more real, she begins to wonder if she will survive, and what would be the point.

This project is being well received in my little town, with some people angling for sneak previews. Don’t worry. They won’t be getting the chapters even a day earlier than the rest of you.

Go to OliverOnline for the download link.

note: it says chapters 3 & 4, but the download is 4 & 5.

rjb

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