earth's layers

Region Generator

“What, my homeland? Oh, don’t get me started! Where should I begin?”
Follow the directions below to generate the outline of a marvellous, far-away land, and interpret as you see fit.

Geography and Climate (Roll 1d12):
1. A layer of earth and moss scraped across bedrock
2. Dry soil heaped in ever shifting dunes
3. Rocky shores and chilly wind
4. Towering mountains
5. Great climbing hills and sloping valleys
6. Plains stretching beyond the horizon
7. Lowlands pocked with lakes and rivers
8. Fire spewing fissures
9. Deep canyons and deeper caves
10. Dripping forests
11. Scrubby tundra
12. Rugged, tangled evergreens

History (Roll 2d6):
2 -4. Passed from warlord to warlord
5 - 6. Total isolation
7. A slow cultural takeover
8 - 10. Unwavering religious dogmatism
11-12. An unending tug-of-war between factions

Noteworthy Animal (Roll 2d6; if either die shows 1 the creatures are especially large; a 6 means they are prolific; doubles means they are magical in some way):
2 -4. Slinking carnivores
5 - 6. Soaring creatures
7. Stampeding herds
8 - 10. Chattering, dexterous beasts
11-12. Glittering insects

Current Events (Roll 2d6; doubles means there is active conflict):
2. A very valuable natural resource has been found there recently
3-4. A new religion has taken root
5-6. Natural disasters have been common in recent years
7. A benevolent leader has united the people
8-9. A contagious disease is ravaging the population
10-11. Industry has increased recently
12. A religious crusade is beginning

Local Cultures (Roll 1d12 1d4 times):
1. A large people
2. A posh people
3. A nature loving people
4. A diminutive people
5. A warlike people
6. An industrious people
7. A water-dwelling people
8. A reclusive people
9. A festive people
10. A socialist people
11. An oppressed people
12. An ancient people

Sights Worth Seeing (roll 1d12)
1. Vampire falls
2. The Sinkhole
3. The Dead Kahn’s Temple
4. The Stepping Stones
5. The Giant’s Teapot
6. The Green Vortex
7. The Harvest Festival
8. March of the Dead
9. Sunrise Pass
10. Mushroom Hole
11. The Church Below the Earth
12. The Crimson Rain Ceremony

Watch on

This is an absolutely unbelievable demonstration of the behavior of different layers in Earth’s atmosphere. Look how the distant clouds move so different from the near clouds.

Requested by @affectos – a correction to this post that was published prior to the games’ release.

Throughout the generations, there have always been pokémon that supposedly originated in space: Clefairy, Lunatone, and Beheeyem, for example. Surprisingly, Minior is not one of these extraterrestrials: it did not come from space. Instead, according to the pokédex, it is formed inside the atmosphere.

Strong impacts can knock it out of its shell. This Pokémon was born from mutated nanoparticles. (Moon: Meteor Form)

Originally making its home in the ozone layer, it hurtles to the ground when the shell enclosing its body grows too heavy. (Sun: Meteor Form)

The ozone layer is in the stratosphere, the second layer in Earth’s atmosphere, from around 10-50 kilometers above Earth’s surface. Many airplanes fly in the stratosphere: it’s hardly considered outer space.

Still, Minior is classified as the Meteor Pokémon, so if it’s not from space, what makes it a meteor? The definition of a meteor is “a small body of matter from outer space that enters the earth’s atmosphere.” Generally, they are debris from a larger celestial body, such as a comet, asteroid, or planetoid, that crossed Earth’s orbit some time ago. Earth runs into the debris stream, picking up the particles in Earth’s atmosphere. The friction between the object (a meteoroid) and the atmosphere causes the object to burn up, manifesting itself as a shooting star (a meteor). The few that make it to the ground are called meteorites.  

Minior isn’t from outer space, so by definition Minior is not a meteor. Instead, Minior is a precipitate, a dust particle floating in the atmosphere that clumps together with other particles to grow. Rocky precipitates like Minior are often the seeds for rain clouds (see Bronzong for more detail). However, instead of collecting water until it gets too heavy to stay in the air, Minior collects other dust particles in its crust until it is too heavy to star in the air. 

Interestingly enough, volcanic activity (found in abundance in the Alola region), can add very specific types of precipitates to the atmosphere: the colorful sulfates, or chemicals with at least one sulfur atom and 4 oxygen atoms. Here are some examples:

(From left to right: Cobalt Sulfate, Ammonium-Cerium Sulfate, Nickel Sulfate, Iron Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, and Chromium Sulfate)

The cores of Miniors, then, are likely different kinds of sulfates! The crusts can be anything and everything else it picks up along the way: clay, soot, dust, pollution, all which are very common in the atmosphere everywhere in the world.

Minior does not come from space, so it is not a meteor. Instead, the core is a sulfate precipitate, found commonly in Alola due to the volcanic activity there. Other particles from the atmosphere stick to the core to form its crust.

It’s hard to be funny this week.

I had a number of good intentions for the last five days: make headway on my NaNoWriMo project (I did not), finish beta reading for a friend (I did not), and draw some funny stuff for y’all (spoiler alert: I did not.)

Instead, I cried (a lot), panicked over my mother’s cancer treatment coverage (a lot), and called people misogynist racists lacking even a shred of human compassion (spoiler alert: I especially did this a lot.)

I was not very funny. Even now, the jokes I’ve made are the kind of “laugh in disbelief because hey, your friends all died in a plane crash, but look the life raft deployed just fine on the tarmac” sort of funny. I’ve already alienated one friend whose mother may have voted for Trump, and one family member who certainly voted for Trump, and perhaps if I make it to five people within the month that’ll fill up my punchcard and I’ll get a free latte.

Caption: a letter that will guarantee a lot of awkwardness in my future.

I’ve had people try to tell me it won’t be as bad, that he’s already changed his mind about preexisting conditions and gay marriage and aren’t we overreacting, give him a chance, let’s see how he actually governs. 

To which I say: if a man has spent the last year waving a knife in your face and telling the rest of the country he’ll stab you if they vote for him, and your country[’s very flawed electoral college system] says “go ahead, stab them, we actually vote for stabbing”, why on earth would you believe that man when he leans back and says “actually I’m good, no stabbing, even though I promised people with my nuts in a vice that I would stab you. Don’t sweat it.” (Admittedly this metaphor is a little on-the-nose.)

Many creative folks are pretty shaken right now. Good luck affording individual health care without the exchanges, right? Good luck convincing your employer to insure you without the mandate. Good luck hoping your state gives a shit about gay marriage, reproductive rights, but hey come move to the big city on the coast where this stuff is safe, and your vote will now count for 1/6th of a voter in Wyoming.

I chipped away at that shellacking of existential horror today a little. I cut off family, I went to my first protest, I did something to feel like I fought back in a way that wasn’t just passive-aggressive posts on Facebook. (Really more aggressive than passive. Think “YOU CHOSE THIS, YOU WROUGHT THIS ATROCITY ON ME AND MY COUNTRY, AND BY GOD I WILL BE SHRIEKING THIS IN YOUR EAR LIKE THE FURIES ON ORESTES FOR EVERY WAKING MOMENT OF THE NEXT FOUR YEARS.”

Caption: Furies screaming at Orestes and pointing to his mother, whom he stabbed. They are probably saying, “UNFRIEND ME, MOTHERFUCKER, I DARE YOU.”)


I did stuff today. Not fun stuff like drawing or writing, but stuff that felt like I am beginning to draw my line in the sand. A line that says the Electoral College is bullshit. A line that says Trump’s abhorrent stances were never state secrets, and for some they were incentives, for others an acceptable loss. A line that says my people are my people, and they are of many nations, faiths, races, genders, orientations, bodies, and they are my fucking people and if you want them you go through me.

A line that says I’m sorry I didn’t draw this sooner.

I don’t think it’s coincidence that when I came back home from a day of drawing my line, I felt like writing again.

Caption: the sign I made. It says “Tomorrow There’ll Be More of Us”, which is of course a Hamilton quote, and consequently my sign was absconded with by a Hamilton fan while I was on a bathroom break. Moral of the story: never leave your sign unattended. 

But I do hope it’s right. It feels like all around the country these lines are being drawn. People are saying, collectively, this is bullshit in so many ways, on so many levels, it is a tiramisu of bullshit and we are going to be on the right side of history. 

I hope there will be more of us.

I plan on making it a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Layers in the atmosphere

Light and air make for strange mixtures sometimes, with a great variety of beautiful optical effects produced in consequence. The reddened colour of this sunset is due to the greater amount of air that the light has to pass through to reach the ground at the grazing angle of dusk, as opposed to the right angle of noontime. Particles of dust and aerosols absorb, diffract and scatter most of the higher energy green to blue wavelengths, while the lower powered red to orange hues pass through while the shorter light paths of midday scatter all wavelengths but blue.

Keep reading

Where to Look for Fossils

Vertebrate Paleontology Collections Manager Amy Henrici in the field. 

by Patrick McShea

As I travelled west from Pittsburgh to meet Carnegie Museum of Natural Hisotry Vertebrate Fossil Collection Manager Amy Henrici for a frog fossil hunting expedition in eastern Nevada, the same question was asked by each of my airplane seat mates.

How do you know where to look for fossils?“ 

For the sites we planned to visit the answer was simple. Earlier written reports by geologists mapping rock formations and mineral deposits noted the occasion occurrence of fossils in certain rock layers. 

Fossil searches involved locating and visiting sites where such rock layers are exposed on the surface, and then examining fragments that have eroded from these outcrops.The full process, which might stretch over decades, is an example of how published findings allow one branch of science to serve another.

As a geologist friend takes great pleasure in explaining, "Geologists let paleontologist know where fossils are in the multitude rock layers of Earth’s history, in time and in place.”

Patrick McShea is a museum educator who is traveling through Nevada with Vertebrate Paleontology Collections Manager Amy Henrici to search for frog fossils. He frequently blogs about his experiences.

The Descent of Quetzalcoatl, 1

This is from the mythological sequence describing the descent of Quetzalcoatl, the Plumed Serpent, to the Underworld, to recover the bones of the ancestors from the Lord of Death, in order to create the new, and current, race of men. At the top, the Teótl gather in Tamoanchan, the Twelfth layer of the heavens, to order Quetzalcoatl and his Spirit Animal, Xolotl, the dog-god, to descend to the Underworld to recover the precious bones. Below, they descend on a rope adorned with eagle plumes, which symbolically represents the Milky Way, through the subsequent 11 layers of the heavens, before they enter through the belly of the earth Goddess, Coatlicue. These layers are, in order, the Red, Yellow, and Blue heavens, the Daytime and the Nighttime Skies, the heaven of shooting stars, the heaven of Venus, the heaven of the Sun, the heaven of the stars, and the heaven of the moon and clouds. Below is the surface of the earth and the imperial city of Tenochtitlan.

The painting is the preliminary drawing for the painting, which will be painted in full color. A print of the preliminary drawing is available on my Etsy store at this link.


It’s like being surrounded by lava flows!


Variably oxidized layers at Rainbow Mountain, Peru