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Author: Dr C M Helm-Clark PhD

Doc Clark was given a box of rocks when she was four and it all went downhill from there. Having made the mistake of going to engineering school, she took a geology class, realized she was on the wrong path through life and jumped ship for a degree in rocks. She's done lots of things over a lifetime, including mapping geothermal resources and Yellowstone-related volcanism, investigating the oil deposit under the Great Salt Lake and managing the field work of a Superfund site.
The Element Named for Soap

The Element Named for Soap

This is the Merry Blogmas short science post for December 16, 2017 | If you make your own soap or do a lot of gardening, you probably know where this is going. Many of the oldest element names come from Medieval words like nitrogen from natron or sodium from soda. Some have kept their old names like sulfur. Some have names whose Medieval origins are lost to us like antimony. While the roots of most element names are rather mundane,…

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a Brief History of Spark Plug Insulation

a Brief History of Spark Plug Insulation

This is the daily Merry Blogmas science post for December 14. | Today we look at something I know you’ve all been wondering about for years. Wonder no longer for I will reveal the history of spark plug insulation in all its glory. Enlightenment on this electrifying subject is now here! WHY CARE ABOUT SPARK PLUG INSULATORS? Personally, I think this history-of-technology stuff is really cool. I hope you get as much a charge out of this as I did. In…

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Hot Spring Rime

Hot Spring Rime

This is the daily bite-sized Merry Blogmas 2017 science blog post for December 14. | Today’s topic is hot spring rime, not to be confused with hot Spring rhyme.  The latter invokes steamy poetry about certain reproductive activities, a subject better left to cow-eyed romantics and peddlers of questionable erotic “literature.” This is G-rated blog, folks. We are just not going to go there. THE FORMATION OF HOT SPRING RIME What is Rime? Rime is a type of frozen water. Here’s…

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Ideochromatism

Ideochromatism

This is the bite-sized Merry Blogmas 2017 science post for December 13. Only 12 more to go until Christmas! It’s one of those physical properties you never hear about it school. For example, I personally learned about it from reading a book in graduate school on the science of color. Ideochromatism is a really cool thing because it explains a lot about the things we use as pigments. WHAT IS IDEOCHROMATISM? Ideochromatism is the property of being self-colored. The Latin roots…

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Vinegar for Peeling Eggs

Vinegar for Peeling Eggs

Today’s “Merry Blogmas 2017” post is about the vinegar trick for peeling a hard-boiled or soft-boiled egg. This trick isn’t for everyone, but if you’ve tried the other “easy-peeling” measures that usually work, the vinegar trick may be for you. PEELING EGGS BY UNDERSTANDING EGGS Seriously, if you understand how an egg is built then peeling that egg is a lot easier. There’s a previous article on this blog that has discussed this topic in detail. It might help you…

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The Food Science of Hard-Boiled Eggs – Part III

The Food Science of Hard-Boiled Eggs – Part III

There are way too many variations out there on how to cook and peel a hard-boiled egg. Many of them are just plain bunk. The truth is that there are several different paths to cooking the perfect hard-boiled egg. Our goal here is to show you the science behind boiling an egg because if you understand the science, you will then know what to do to achieve that perfect egg and peel it too! In PART I, we looked at the…

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Merry Blogmas for December 10: Volta’s Pistol

Merry Blogmas for December 10: Volta’s Pistol

Our daily “Merry Blogmas” posts on fun bite-sized science topics will run until Christmas. Today we look at the invention of spark ignition in the strange contraption called Volta’s pistol. Though originally scheduled for today, part III of the food science of hard-boiled eggs, will post tomorrow. WHY YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT ALESSANDRO VOLTA Alessandro Volta is important. A little over two centuries ago, Volta invented the battery. He also discovered methane. More important than either, he’s that so-and-so…

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Merry Blogmas for December 9: DNA and Yellowstone

Merry Blogmas for December 9: DNA and Yellowstone

We continue  today with our daily “Merry Blogmas” posts on fun bite-sized science topics, which will run until Christmas. THE BIRTHPLACE OF DNA FINGERPRINTING BY THE PCR METHOD The banner image today (above) is a photograph of Octopus Spring in the Lower Geyser Basin of Yellowstone National Park. If this spring was anywhere else, there would probably be a shrine here for this is the birthplace of modern “cheap and easy” DNA profiling. If you didn’t know Octopus Spring existed,…

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Merry Blogmas for December 8: Why Should I Care About Alunite?

Merry Blogmas for December 8: Why Should I Care About Alunite?

We continue  today with our daily “Merry Blogmas” posts on fun bite-sized science topics, which will run until Christmas. WHAT IS ALUNITE AND WHY SHOULD I CARE? Most people outside of geologists have probably never heard of alunite but this rock has had wars fought over it. Alunite was a major source of potash alum from antiquity up until the 19th century. Potash alum was and still is one of the most important commodities in the world, used in medicines,…

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Merry Blogmas for December 7: Saccharin and Cancer

Merry Blogmas for December 7: Saccharin and Cancer

We continue  today with our daily “Merry Blogmas” posts on fun bite-sized science topics, which will run until Christmas. SACCHARIN IS NOT A KNOWN, PROBABLY, OR POSSIBLE CARCINOGEN If you pay attention to the news, that statement shouldn’t come as a shock. Unfortunately, because of the great saccharin scare of the 1970s, there are still people who think that saccharin causes cancer. Here’s how saccharin got its bad rep: There were some studies done in the 1970s where male laboratory…

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