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Stories by David Bressan

The Sciences

Geologizing Women into the Field!

Geology usually requires outdoor activities in remote, inhospitable, hazardous or dirty environments. At the beginning of the 19th century it was hard to imagine that a gentleman would engage voluntarily in such an activity and it's seemed even less comprehensible that a woman could and should be allowed to do the same thing!As results of these social prejudices throughout history women geologists have encountered difficulties travelling to their field locations or working in the field.Girls and women working in the field were tolerated in the social lower classes, like professional fossil collector and dealer Mary Anning (1799-1847) of Lyme Regis (Dorset), daughter of a craftsman, but for upper-class women engaging in field research was almost impossible.Women could minimize these "problems" by collecting fossils and studying rocks in their local environment, for example on private property or in the surroundings of their home, where their social status was known and such behaviour regarded as eccentricity and somehow tolerated...

March 8, 2012 — David Bressan
The Sciences

How Volcanoes became a Symbol for Revolution

More than a year ago a wave of uprisings and insurrections in the North African countries of Tunisia, Egypt and Libya inspired a cartoon (still visible on the geology blog " Pawn of the Pumice Castle ") comparing the rage of the people with a sort of magma chamber ready to erupt.The use of natural forces as metaphor has a long tradition, especially phenomena as fire, floods or storms were often associated with negative historic events like war, invasions or plagues.During the 18th century the European revolutions against aristocracy and monarchy, especially the French revolution of 1789-1799, changed this negative to a positive view...

February 19, 2012 — David Bressan
The Sciences

January 17, 1995: The Kobe earthquake and early Antiseismic Architecture

In the morning of January 17, 1995 a strong earthquake hit the Japanese city of Kobe and despite the modern city infrastructure was assumed earthquake-proof more than 6.000 people were killed, 26.800 injured, 46.000 buildings destroyed or damaged and more than 300.000 people were made homeless.The Kobe earthquake lasted for 14 to 20 seconds and reached a magnitude of 7.2 after Richter (7 according to the Japanese intensity scale - shindo , the maximal possible value), the strongest earthquake in western Japan since 1923...

January 17, 2012 — David Bressan
Evolution

January 6, 1912: Continental Drift!

" Beautiful is what we see, More beautiful is what we understand, Most beautiful is what we do not comprehend. "Anatomist and self-educated geologist Nicolaus Steno , 1673January 6, 1912 the German meteorologist Alfred Wegener presented in a lecture entitled " Die Heraushebung der Großformen der Erdrinde (Kontinente und Ozeane) auf geophysikalischer Grundlage " (The uprising of large features of earth's crust (Continents and Oceans) on geophysical basis) for the first time his hypothesis of the ancient supercontinent Pangaea , from which all modern continents split apart.Three years later he will publish his book " Entstehung der Kontinente und Ozeane ", translated in the third edition and published in 1922 as " The origin of continents and oceans...

January 6, 2012 — David Bressan
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