You stagger ouf of the hospital, vowing to identify prior to licking wild rocks.

You head to the Arizona deserts yo bask and recover. In an arid cave, #YouFindARock.

It’s very blue. So blue. Electric blue?

📷 Michael C. Roarke A shockingly bright blue fi...
🎶 I'm blue, da ba dee da ba di🎶 you sing to yourself, picking up your latest gorgeous friend.

Learning absolutely nothing from recently EATING URANIUM, you lunge tongue-first at the strange rock.

“Bright colours are only a warning in animals,” you reason, utterly ignoring the close association between vibrancy and heavy metals in minerals.

> Reconsider

Your guts still aching from your recent encounter with EATING URANIUM, you decide to not be hospitalized twice in two days and keep your tongue to yourself.

At least, until you have some idea who your pretty blue fren is...

> Douse

“If I’m not going to lick you, I’m still giving you a bath” you reason, dunking the mineral in water.

It starts to dissolve.

> Dry

“Eek!” you exclaim. “I had no idea you were such a water-soluble mineral. Sorry about that.”

Your nail catches the mineral, just barely scratching it. “Oh! Mohs hardness 2.5?” you ask, then coo “You’re just a lil softie, aren’t you?”

> Heft & sniff

“Huh,” you marvel after weighing the mineral carefully in your hand. “You’re not so heavy, are you? You can’t have THAT much metal...”

You lean close, inhaling deeply. It smells sweetly metallic. “Oh!” your eyes flutter open in realization. “Chalcanthite!!”

> Take
Armed with appropriate prospecting permits, you collect the chalcanthite. You’re coming with me, sweet thing,” you whisper, tucking the mineral into your pocket.

> Focus on blue goo
You switch your attention to goo created by partially-dissolving your sample in water.

> zap

“Ooh, this means I have copper sulfate solution!” you cackle wildly before pouring goo into unglazed ceramic pots. “It’s time for GEOPHYSICS!!!”

You drop copper electrodes into the pots & wire them together. “Shhh! We’re hunting self potentials!” you hiss sharply.

> wait

You twiddle your thumbs & fidget, but soon have a clear read on how natural telluric currents are flowing through the ground.

“I’ve got you now!” you crow victoriously, creating a map of likely shallow metallic sulfide deposits to hunt for yet more chalcanthite.

> Shepherd

You find the local flock of wooly creatures & strike a deal with their human.

Your new partner uses copper sulfate as a dye fixative tinting yellow to green; a fungicide for unhappy feets & mouldy grapes; and more.

“We done good,” you whisper to your chalcanthite.
> Bask

You stretch out on a hillside overlooking a valley of well-loved fluffy critters, wrinkling your nose slightly as a gentle breeze carries the stench of a copper mordant vat.

“Not every rock is best licked,” you remind yourself, sipping organic wine. “Just some of them.”

• • •

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More from @mikamckinnon

Dec 26, 2021
The degree of rage I feel when someone flippantly declares getting COVID is inevitable and we should give up is beyond my ability to politely express.

It’s never too late to make things less bad. Like Climate nihilism, it’s self-destructive bullshit & I have no tolerance for it.
Science is an astonishing tool linking cause and effect, enabling us to create a path to any future we want.

It’s not easy! Untangling details can be lifetimes of effort to get right. But the harder part is picking a future, then doing the work.
It’s daunting. We need to do the work individually, but we also need our communities, governments, & everyone everywhere else to do the work.

But if we refuse to surrender to suffering?
If we keep struggling to do better?

We have infinite possible futures that are less bad.
Read 5 tweets
Mar 9, 2021
You know the rules:

Most vibrantly-coloured rocks are on the Do Not Lick list, but ALL rocks that are literally radiating are definitely on the Do Not Lick list.
> Record scratch

> Freeze frame of you, the protagonist, contemplating the pros and cons of licking a plutonium puck.

“You’re probably wondering how I got here. It all started when I was strolling around France...”


📷 Roberto Bosi Densely-packed crystals of a pale translucent tan spackled a
You pick up the hunk of densely-packed quartz crystals, intrigued by the spatters of matte black.

“Did you mould?!” you ask the rock incredulously. “No, no, that’s not quite right... what IS this?”

Read 15 tweets
Nov 21, 2020
I’m reading a lot of well-intentioned articles that make it clear how many scicomm peeps have no idea disaster risk reduction is a deep field with a lot of research into effective communication.

ProTip: Using fear & shame as motivation backfires when applied to public health.
I can’t write this article (or even thread!) right now as I’m under medical orders to drop my stress levels (ahahahahasob), but...

If you’re writing well-intentioned pieces trying to influence pandemic behaviour, please take some cues from disaster sociology research. It exists!
Fundamental premise:
Vanishingly few people make active choices they believe will endanger themselves or the people they love.

If they’re making “bad” choices, it’s a fundamentally different risk perception. Until you understand how & why, your argument will miss its audience.
Read 7 tweets
Nov 20, 2020
Gritty has found rocks.

They are all safe but boring to lick. It’s a solid selection of common crystals from a rock shop or museum gift store.

I do have a few questions.
If you go outside and pick up a stray rock, it’s probably quartz.

This looks like quartz. Quartz is an excellent oscillator that is piezoelectric & resonates well.

White sand is also quartz, and is near oceans.

Conclusion: Gritty can use quartz as a distributed spy network.
I have questions on this ID.

If it’s rose quartz, it’s about as fun as licking a window for flavour.

But it could easily be pink halite (like Himalayan rock salt!). If it is...? Lick it! Lick it moar!
Read 7 tweets
Nov 19, 2020
I’m stunned that we’re losing Arecibo.

Even if you don’t pay much attention to ground-based astronomy, you know this telescope from pop culture & movies. It’s somewhere special.…
This article from just before the closing announcement is fantastic for the context of why Arecibo is so unique:…
I just...

I know we’ve got a lot going on, especially with the mass casualty event scheduled shortly after US Thanksgiving.

But take some time to read the Arecibo tributes as they come out. They won’t be cheerful. But they’ll be heartfelt.
Read 6 tweets
Nov 14, 2020
Irregular reminder that landslides can behave like fluids.

(Thank you for all the pings!)
Landslides get weird when there really big, and can start behaving more like fluids than solids once they’re over the half million cubic meter mark.

...which was pretty much why I wrote a thesis once upon a time:…
But technically landslide are fluid-like, not fluids.


Because they’re a mixed mess of materials that act differently when moving than when still. You can’t just sample a tree trunk, some peat, and water to figure out the rheologic properties (how it flows).
Read 9 tweets

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