Literally nothing about the debate tonight could possibly change how I vote, and I don’t want to deal with either rage or despair from hearing his horrid voice and cruel ideals.

So I’m focusing elsewhere.

On geologic glitter, specifically.
Today’s #MinCup2020 battle is a showdown between glitter vs magnetics.

I am forever & always #TeamShiny.
Which is losing.
#Magnetite is a pretty cool mineral. It’s key to a lot of geophysics, I like collecting it with a fridge magnet on beaches, and it makes for a cool high-impact low-effort geo demo.

But then there’s #Muscovite, a subset of mica & the essence of #TeamSparkle. It’s SO SHINY.
Glittery eyeshadow? Probably has mica.

Picked up a random rock because it glinted at you? Most likely mica.

Shake hands with a geoscientist and confused why you suddenly have small shiny flakes of rock? Totally mica.
There’s a lot of good scientific reasons to vote for #Muscovite (or, sigh, #Magnetite) that you can find browsing those tags or #MinCup2020.

But I’m tired & worn down & this year has been so, so, so long. I just like the pretty rock that’s fun to play with. It’s that simple.
#Muscovite grows in sheets you can peel apart with your fingers. If you peel it thin enough, it makes glitterific flakes you can gently flex between your fingers.

It’s honestly the best (& safest) fidget toy you’ll find in a geology department.
#Muscovite is not as rock-like as your intuition suggests.

It’s soft, just Moh’s hardness 2.5 so you can scrape it with your fingernails even if you’re not peeling apart its perfect cleavage.

And its low specific gravity makes it weirdly light.

Soft & friendly.
Both tonight’s contenders are on the Safe But a Boring list when it comes to licking.

You could nibble on #muscovite, but as a potassium aluminum silicate with traces of misplaced chromium or manganese, it tastes like licking a glass. The texture is the fun bit.

And the glitter
#Muscovite handles heat REALLY WELL.

It’s actually an insulator, which along with the transparency & cleavage into tidy sheets made it ideal as a Ye Olde Times oven window.

And ordinary window.
Along with a fondness for fire, #Muscovite is a cute lil weirdo when it comes to water.

Have a chunk of mica? Don’t wash it. It’ll absorb the water into its structure.

Instead, mica wants to be cleaned with a dry electric toothbrush. Yeah: give it a vibrating massage!
Continuing the theme of strange reactions to external forces, #muscovite is also has decent electrical resistivity.

Building a semiconductor from coconuts on that deserted island where you’re hiding from the ongoing apocalypse? Find shiny mica as your electrical insulator.
You have mica somewhere in your home right now. It’s a super-useful, super-common mineral.

#Muscovite gets incorporated into everything from the non-stick dust on moulding car tires to household capacitors to cement joins to pearlescent paints.
I love mica because it’s dead common, EVERYWHERE, incredibly useful, yet also casually gorgeous.

I’m a totally sucker for the ultra-competent ultra-femme aesthetic of wielding a wrench in delicate high heels. That’s #Muscovite.
#Muscovite has been losing by 6% to #Magnetite all day. It’d need to close a 140-vote gap over the next few hours to make it to the finals.

It’s small. It’s silly. It probably won’t happen. But my heart is with shiny & sparkle & glitter as the mineral I want to win #MinCup2020.

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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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