I’m finding, more and more, that many articles found in popular magazines today are predictable. I read the first few paragraphs and get the gist of what’s being said and the perspective of the author. I get ‘bored’ part of the way through and stop reading.
Perhaps it’s the time of year: Yesterday we celebrated another school year with our School Closing service. In the life of a teacher, school closing is a significant event. I still have report card comments to write (no computer generated comments for us, thank goodness), meetings to attend, planning for next year, and a Yearbook to finish, but the day-to-day business of teaching is over for two months, as is the marking. I have mixed emotions; despite the daily stress of organizing and executing multiple ‘performances’, assessing what all those young minds are learning, and dealing with the various dramas that so characterize teenage life, I thoroughly enjoy the daily interactions, the quest for learning, and the growth I see in each student over the course of the year, and in many cases, years.
I was drawn to the articles I read, and thoroughly enjoyed, last night by the demise of EARTH magazine. As far as I’m aware, it is the only magazine dedicated to Earth Science in a form accessible to just about anyone with an interest in geology, volcanology, glaciation, climatology, etc. EARTH will survive, but only as a ‘channel’ within the Nautilus sphere. I navigated to that channel and was not immediately impressed, so I logged on to their magazine and downloaded the latest issue of Nautilus. The articles were not Earth Science oriented, but they were intriguing. I found the cover story, The Stick is the Unsung Hero of Human Evolution by archaeologist and Mediaeval historian Alexander Langlands, thoroughly fascinating. We always talk about human tool evolution in terms of rocks the various Stone Ages but, Langlands reminds us sticks are “stone’s silent sister in the archaeological record.”
The second article, by geneticist Adam Rutherford, was equally intriguing: You’re Descended from Royalty and So Is Everybody Else. He takes a fascinating look at the mathematics and genetics behind the idea that we, meaning everyone of European descent, can trace our lineage back to a common ancestor living as little as 600 years ago. In fact, every one of use is related to Charles the Great – Charlemagne! Furthermore, everyone around the world is related to someone who lived as few as 3,400 years ago. Staggering!
Now I’m on to my third full-length magazine article from Nautilus and I’m equally intrigued: Why Aliens and Volcanoes Go Together by Steve Nadis. It’s from April 2014, and takes a fascinating (sorry I’m over-using that word!) look at the connections between plate tectonics and life I teach plate tectonics and global climate change to my Grade 7 students. This is definitely above their reading level, but I’m determined to find a way to bring these concepts into our discussions of subduction, carbon cycling and life to them.
Summer has begun (well, almost) and it appears I have at least some of my summer reading set. I encourage you to have a look at Nautilus. Then, take a second look; the topics are esoteric and decidedly ungeographic, but there is more to it than meets the eye.