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Rank #76 in Natural Sciences category

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Natural Sciences

History of the Earth

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Rank #76 in Natural Sciences category

Science
Natural Sciences
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We've concentrated the history of Planet Earth into one year. Follow the geology podcasts chronologically from the origin of the Earth to the origin of Mankind.

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We've concentrated the history of Planet Earth into one year. Follow the geology podcasts chronologically from the origin of the Earth to the origin of Mankind.

iTunes Ratings

72 Ratings
Average Ratings
60
5
4
2
1

History of the earth

By icedejet - Aug 07 2018
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Really do enjoy your show, I put it on one and a half speed as I am a fast listener.

GREAT KNOWLEDGE

By ol fuzzy - Dec 02 2017
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I love every episode. I'm always looking forward to the next one.

iTunes Ratings

72 Ratings
Average Ratings
60
5
4
2
1

History of the earth

By icedejet - Aug 07 2018
Read more
Really do enjoy your show, I put it on one and a half speed as I am a fast listener.

GREAT KNOWLEDGE

By ol fuzzy - Dec 02 2017
Read more
I love every episode. I'm always looking forward to the next one.
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History of the Earth

Latest release on Apr 30, 2018

The Best Episodes Ranked Using User Listens

Updated by OwlTail 10 days ago

Rank #1: Paleozoic Vertebrates compilation

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Ganoid fish from an old textbook (public domain)Running time, 1 hour. File size, 70 megabytes.
This is an assembly of the 15 episodes in the original series from 2014 that are about Paleozoic vertebrates.

I’ve left the references to specific dates in the podcast so that you can, if you want, go to the specific blog post that has links and illustrations for that episode. They are all indexed on the right-hand side of the blog.
Thanks for your interest and support!

Feb 11 2018

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Rank #2: Triassic and Jurassic Vertebrates compilation

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Morganucodon, a possible early mammal from the Late Triassic. Length about four inches.Drawing by FunkMonk (Michael B. H.) used under Creative Commons license

Running time, 1 hour. File size, 68 megabytes.
This is an assembly of the episodes in the original series from 2014 that are about Triassic and Jurassic vertebrates.

As usual, I’ve left the references to specific dates in the podcast so that you can, if you want, go to the specific blog post that has links and illustrations for that episode. They are all indexed on the right-hand side of the blog.

Thanks for your interest and support!

Mar 04 2018

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Rank #3: Episode 387 Geology of Beer

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It isn’t true that all geologists drink beer. But many do, and I’m one of them. Today I’m going to talk about the intimate connection between geology and beer.

Beer is mostly water, and water chemistry has everything to do with beer styles. And water chemistry itself depends mostly on the kinds of rocks through which the water flows. You know about hard and soft water – hard water has more dissolved chemicals like calcium and magnesium in it, and while salts of those chemicals can precipitate out of hard water, making a scum on your dishes, they also can be beneficial to development of bones and teeth. In the United States, the Midwest and Great Plains have some of the hardest water because of the abundant limestones there, and in Great Britain, southern and eastern England have harder water than Scotland for similar reasons.

But it wasn’t limestone that made Burton-upon-Trent a center of brewing in the 19th Century, when it was home to more than 30 breweries. The water there is rich in sulfate which comes from gypsum, calcium sulfate, in the sandstone underlying the region. Those sandstones are Permian and Triassic in age, representing a time when much of the earth was arid. Those dry conditions allowed gypsum to crystallize in the sediments. Gypsum is much more soluble than limestone, and the slightly acidic waters of Burton help with that. Burton water has ten times the calcium, three times the bicarbonate, and 14 times the sulfate of Coors’ “Rocky Mountain Spring water” in Colorado. That certainly makes Coors’ Burton brewery product rather different from that made in Colorado.

In fact, the addition of gypsum to beer is called “Burtonization.” This increases the hops flavor, but more important to history, sulfates act as preservatives in beer, enough so that Burton brews of pale ales could survive the long trip to British India, giving us the India Pale Ale style of beer. Not from India, but brewed with sulfates derived from gypsum in Britain’s rocks.

That slight acidity in Burton’s water depends on the calcium and magnesium content, and also lends itself to extracting sugars from malted barley in the mashing process. Calcium and magnesium also help yeast to work its magic. Today, home brewers can buy “Burton Water Salts” to imitate the product from England.

Truman, Hanbury, Buxton & Co., Black Eagle brewery, Derby Street, Burton-upon-Trent, in 1876,
from University of LondonLess hoppy beers often originated in areas where the sulfate content of the water was low. Pilsen in the Czech Republic, home to pilsner beer, has almost no sulfate and only 7 parts per million calcium in its water, compared to around 300 for Burton. Pilsen is in an area of metamorphic rocks that don’t yield the typical hard-water-making elements.

The presence of Carboniferous age limestones in Ireland make waters that are high in calcium and carbonate, but they lack the sulfate of northern England. Together with other differences, that makes the area around Dublin ideal for making a stout porter known today as Guinness.

After water, it’s the soil that makes the most difference to beer. Hops can grow in a wide range of soils, even the decomposed granite we have here in Butte, but the thick, well-drained soils of Washington and Oregon, weathered from volcanic rocks, make those states the source of 70% of the hops grown in the United States.

The surge of craft breweries in the United States has given rise to some interesting geological names for brews. Great Basin Brewing in Reno and Sparks, Nevada, has Ichthyosaur IPA, known as Icky, as well as Orogenesis, a Belgian-style amber ale. Socorro Springs, in New Mexico, brews Isopod Pale Ale and Obsidian Stout is available from Deschutes in Oregon.  You can get Triceratops Double IPA at Ninkasi Brewing in Eugene, Oregon, and Pangaea Ale at Dogfish Head in Delaware. And even though it’s more chemical than geological, we shouldn’t leave out Atomic Ale’s Dysprosium Dunkelweizen, made in Richland, Washington. Dysprosium is a rare-earth element found in the phosphate mineral xenotime and other stranger minerals.

San Andreas Brewing Company, near the fault in California, boasts Oktoberquake and Aftershock Wheat.

And I’m undoubtedly prejudiced, because I’m the House Geologist at Quarry Brewing here in Butte, which probably has the best mineral collection in a brewery in the United States, but I think their collection of geological names for their beers is unexcelled: Shale Pale Ale, Galena Gold, Open Cab Copper, and Gneiss IPA, and seasonals including Albite, Basalt, Bauxite, Calcite, Epidote, Halite, Ironstone, Porphyry, Opal Oktoberfest, Schist Sour, Rhyolite Rye Pale Ale, Pyrite Pilsner, and more. Mia the bartender and I tried to come up with a fitting name for a 50-50 mix of basalt and gneiss. I wanted it to be charnockite, but we ended up calling it Mia’s Mixture.

Next time you enjoy a beer, thank geology!

—Richard I. Gibson More Geology of Beer 
And another from Lisa Rossbacher
Image: Truman, Hanbury, Buxton & Co., Black Eagle brewery, Derby Street, Burton-upon-Trent, in 1876 from University of London

Feb 13 2018

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Rank #4: Cretaceous and Cenozoic Vertebrates compilation

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Smilodon and dire wolves (drawing by Robert Horsfall, 1913)
Running time, 1 hour. File size, 69 megabytes.

This is an assembly of the episodes in the original series from 2014 that are about Cretaceous and Cenozoic vertebrates.

I’ve left the references to specific dates in the podcast so that you can, if you want, go to the specific blog post that has links and illustrations for that episode. They are all indexed on the right-hand side of the blog.

Thanks for your interest and support!

Mar 04 2018

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Rank #5: Episode 389 Vanadium

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Vanadium is a metal, and by far its greatest use is in steel alloys, where tiny amounts of vanadium improve steel’s hardness, toughness, and wear resistance, especially at extreme temperatures. As I reported in my book What Things Are Made Of, more than 650 tons of vanadium was alloyed with iron to make the steel in the Alaska Pipeline, and there’s no good substitute for vanadium in strong titanium alloys used in jet planes and other aerospace applications.

Vanadium isn’t exactly one of the well-known elements, but in terms of abundance in the earth’s crust, most estimates indicate that there’s more vanadium than copper, lead, or tin. But it’s difficult to isolate, and it wasn’t produced chemically as a chloride until 1830, when Swedish chemist Nils Sefström named it for the Norse goddess of beauty, Vanadis, perhaps better known as Freyja. It wasn’t until 1867 that pure vanadium metal was isolated by British chemist Henry Roscoe, whose work on vanadium won him the name of the vanadium mica roscoelite.



As a mineral collector, I’m attracted to vanadinite, lead vanadate, because it forms beautiful hexagonal crystals, often bright red and so abundant from one lead-mining area of Morocco that excellent specimens can be had without mortgaging your house. Some vanadinite crystals are like perfect little hexagonal barrels, and others can form needle-like spikes around a central crystal, making the whole thing look like a cactus with caramel-orange spines.

Some of the vanadium for making steel alloys comes from primary mined vanadinite, but much more was once produced as a by-product of phosphorous manufacture, because it’s commonly associated with phosphate rock. And today, a lot of the world’s vanadium comes from refining crude oil and from fly ash residues, which are products of coal combustion. I got curious about why vanadium metal is so closely connected with these organic deposits.

Crude oil actually has lots of trace elements in it, including metals like gold, tin, and lead, but by far the most abundant are nickel and vanadium, as much as 200 parts per million nickel and 2000 parts per million vanadium in some crude oils, especially heavy, tarry oils like those found in Venezuela. In some oil, the nickel and vanadium can add up to 1% by weight of the oil, an incredibly huge amount. Refining Venezuelan crude gave the U.S. a lot of vanadium back in the late 20th century. But why is it in there?

Oil and coal are both the result of decaying and chemically changing plant matter. Forget dinosaurs; virtually all oil, natural gas, and coal comes from plants – usually marine algae for oil and gas and more woody, land-based vegetation for coal. There’s a class of organic molecules called porphyrins. I’m no organic chemist, but these complex hydrocarbon molecules, made of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen have boxy ring-like structures with open space in the centers. Chlorophyll and hemoglobin are related chemicals, both of which contain metals in the middle of the structure, magnesium in chlorophyll and iron in hemoglobin. The vacant holes in the centers of porphyrins in crude oil are ideal for trapping metal molecules, and apparently vanadium, in the form of a VO2 ion, is one of the easiest to trap because of its molecular size and electronic valence.
The vanadium comes from the original oil source rock, so there’s quite a range in vanadium content around the world. Heavy oils, like the tars in Venezuela, hold more than fluid oils like those in Saudi Arabia. This has more or less been known since at least the 1920s, and today the vanadium and other metal contents of oils are being used to characterize the original source rocks even when those source rocks no longer exist or are no longer what they once were.

The United States has had no mine production of vanadium since 2013 and even then we were 94% dependent on imports. Today 100% of our vanadium is imported, and we also produce some vanadium from imported crude oil and ash. More than 90% of the world’s vanadium is mined in China, Russia, and South Africa, although the US imports much of what it needs from the Czech Republic and Canada as well as Russia. We also imported enough ash and refining residues to account for 9000 tons of vanadium in 2015, mostly going as I said to making steel alloys. A new emerging use is in high-capacity storage batteries, where vanadium compounds make the electrolyte. These batteries have potential uses for renewable energies such as wind and solar power, and although in 2015 and 2016 several companies were working on prototype designs, they’re still pretty expensive batteries.

Way back in 1971 when I was a teaching assistant for the Indiana University Geologic Field Station, on one mapping project we went to the Mayflower gold mine south of Whitehall, Montana. I collected a bunch of rocks with interesting looking sparkly crystals – some of which I’ve only recently gotten around to really studying. I gave a talk at the 2017 MontanaBureau of Mines and Geology Mineral Symposium on minerals from there that turned out to be vanadium-bearing, including vanadinite, although it’s probably an arsenic-rich variety, and stranger minerals like descloizite, a lead-zinc vanadate, tangeite, calcium-copper vanadate, and some others. I even think there are some tiny bits of roscoelite, the vanadium mica named for the chemist who first prepared vanadium metal.  

Even more exciting for me are some tiny, millimeter-sized red-orange crystals in the specimens I found at the Mayflower Mine. All I knew for a long time was that I couldn’t figure out what they were. By looking at their crystal shapes and properties, I narrowed it down to two very strange and very rare minerals – gottlobite, a calcium-magnesium vanadate, and calderónite, a lead-iron vanadate. Both of these minerals are so obscure I didn’t really seriously imagine I had actually collected one of them. But, thanks to an analysis by Stan Korzeb, the economic geologist at the Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology, it turned out that I did indeed find calderónite, 32 years before it was described as a new mineral in 2003. Stan’s analysis in January 2018 used EDX, or energy-dispersive x-ray spectroscopy, a technique that gives not only the elements present in a mineral, but their relative proportions, which allowed Stan to calculate the chemical formula. The lead-iron vanadate calderónite he found is intergrown with descloizite, a lead-zinc vanadate. This probably indicates changing iron-zinc concentrations in the fluids that precipitated the minerals. This represents just the 11th documented calderónite occurrence in the United States and the second in Montana. Stan identified the first in Montana in the fall of 2017.

It’s an obscure mineral, and the crystals are tiny, but it made this mineral collector’s day.

—Richard I. Gibson
Link:USGS Mineral Commodities - Vanadium (PDF)

Feb 27 2018

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