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Tuesday, December 15, 2015

"Fire Stranger" Pyroxene and Young Martian Clay

       Pyroxenes are isosilicates which are one of the most common constituents of the lithosphere of earth. They are also prominent minerals in the uplifted rocks on Mars.

       The name pyroxene comes from the Greek words for fire (πυρ) and stranger (ξένος). Pyroxenes were so named because of their presence in lavas, where they are sometimes present as crystals in volcanic glass. It was originally assumed they were impurities in the glass, hence the name "fire strangers". However, they are merely early-forming minerals that crystallized before the lava erupted.

      The most recent data from Mars show that clay found at impact sites near uplifted pyroxene uplifts is believed to be clay-rich impact melt material (i. e. authigenic), rather than clay pulled to the surface by impacts. This authigenic clay is now dated at 2 billion years or less rather than 3.7 billion years, as previously thought.

Brown University geologists, not affiliated with Coffee ;-), describe their research in a press release yesterday.

And, interestingly a hexagonal pattern shows up in craters on Mars as well:

     Mars and earth seem more and more similar every day. . .

       I am taking a Wild Clay painting class next month with a friend's brother here in Colorado. It may come in especially handy, if I ever go to Mars to check out the melted, wild, young clay.

Ka-O, don't be a fire stranger,

Bonus: Cliff Palace, Mesa Verde National Park, CO, with 70 lanterns, December 2015


  1. Steph, I'd be wary of that wild-clay-living-wall stuff if I were you.

    I believe Wild Clay Hickock was Bill's lesser-known brother.

    As for hexagonal craters on Mars, as I believe I have noted before, hexagons (really clusters of six equilateral triangles) are the secret of the universe, perhaps even the multiverse.


  2. I'm exhausted from watching that video clip, Lego. Not sure I ever saw Michael J. Fox either. Hoping the wildness in my walls will be limited to the play of light and shadow.

    Hexagons do seem to be key, Lego. Hence, my newly-updated honey-comb background here at Partial Ellipsis of the Sun. Not at all a Trivial Pursuit!

  3. Not sure the Ancestral Puebloans would've gone for luminaria.

    Probably too snowy for those little Italian scooters out at Mesa Verde this time of year.

    1. Likely not, but the National Park Service has an eye for festive lighting.

      And speaking of strangers this week (you may well already know this):

      "Modern Pueblo people dislike the name "Anasazi" which they consider an ethnic slur. This Navajo word means ancient enemy (or old-time stranger, alien, foreigner, outsider) although it has been in common use for about 70 years."

      Our spring 2016 trip will include a visit to Canyon de Chelly in northeast AZ to see some less visited cliff dwellings (and no lights ;-)).

    2. I almost posted this earlier this week, but I thought it was going a bit too far.

    3. Great colors! Nice complementary colors to the rocks at either Canyon de Chelly or Mesa Verde. :-)

      Solstice-Channukah-Festivus-Christmas science and party with the kindergartners today. Fun and exhausting!

    4. Ha! Just learned Vespa was hornet. Hence, Green Hornet. Got it. D'uh.

  4. My daughter pointed me toward Mary Roach. I thought I'd start with her book about packing for Mars.

    1. That's my favorite book of hers. Though the description of her and her husband getting cozy in an MRI in Bonk was pretty good, too.

  5. They used a REBOA to save the life of a police officer shot here in Colorado. Fascinating.

  6. Replies
    1. Thanks, jan. I did catch that enroute to the library. Zoe and other PCVs have been warned to stay away from Oromia Province, as well as certain parts of Addis Ababa. We talked last weekend. She will be Addis with other PCVs for Christmas.

  7. Happy Solstice this evening or tomorrow morning, depending on your time zone!

    Spectacular, sunny wintry day here.

  8. Replies
    1. I subscribed to Sci Am for over 30 years, and hoarded every issue, but dropped them over 10 years ago after they got too "popular" in their approach. This article is a good example. I doubt you'd find a practicing scientist who'd agree with the inclusion of even half the items on this list. Most of them aren't even related to science, just the intersection of technology and culture. I'm still nostalgic for what this publication used to be.

    2. I would agree, though I also have not subsrcibed for closer to 22 years.

      Do you have a top ten 2015 science list of your own, jan, and PEOTSers all?

      Maybe we could do a top 10 "Partial Ellipsis of the Sun" posts for 2015. . .based on page views? Number of comments?

    3. That's a good question, and hard to answer, since science is an ongoing process, and significant advances take time to develop and become accepted.

      The one item from the Sci Am list that I would completely endorse is the development of CRISPR-Cas9 techniques. Very exciting stuff, posing big ethical questions.

      To the news from Pluto, Ceres, and Mars, I'd add the continued flow of discoveries from Cassini on Saturn and its moons, and the data from ESA's Rosetta comet probe. While expensive manned spaceflight is limited to a handful of people in low Earth orbit and sci-fi movies, robots are getting the job done.

      Meanwhile, I'm slogging through Lisa Randall's "Dark Matter and Dinosaurs", trying to convince myself that dark matter and dark energy are real.

    4. How is the convincing process going?

    5. This image had me howling! I was transfixed in physics joy! Thanks.

  9. This week's post will either be "Silt Happens," coincidentally the motto of the town of Silt, Colorado, or "The search for the missing carbon minerals." Stay tuned.