The Truth Behind a Geology Degree

There’s a lot of colouring in.

I am a baby in the Geological studies world. I’ve only just finished my first year of studying Geology and Physical Geography where I spent a lot of time having absolutely no idea what was going on and coming out of lectures thinking they were in a different language. I didn’t really know what I was expecting, I mean, I chose to study those specific modules at that specific university so I can’t really complain right? There were a lot of things that I would have benefitted from knowing before choosing Earth Sciences.

1. It’s a lot more Difficult than I Expected

If you’re currently studying geography A level or even geology A level (if your college is cool enough), and you think you may want to study geology at degree level then prepare yourself because that basic knowledge of volcanoes is assumed and they hurl you in at the deep end. In my second lecture of dynamic solid earth which started with geochemistry, we covered a semester of A level chemistry in 45 minutes. Bearing in mind, I hadn’t studied chemistry in 2 years, I was so lost. And I was terrified. I did not sign up for chemistry. No thank you.

I still am not sure what this was going on about. If anyone ever says the words “Stereonets” to you, run away.

It didn’t stop there. In the second semester we had a module on palaeontology and palaeobiology which took up 5 contact hours a week. More than this, I was convinced that my lecturer was speaking a different language most of the time. Learning about the anal system of a Brachiopod was really not my forté and stressed me out more than it should’ve. It wasn’t really what I thought I’d be studying and it’s definitely something to look for when looking at Earth Science degrees.

2. You’re Doing a Legit Science

When you tell people that you study geology, their initial reaction is “ew you study rocks” but then they do understand that it’s a difficult and well respected degree to have. You learn everything from GMOs to statistics. You’re likely to have an understanding of both essays and scientific research. Your job prospects are pretty damn good, especially if you have geography in there with it.

3. You do Colour In

Okay okay so you tell anyone that you’re studying Geography and Geology and they say “so all you do is colouring in right?” Well, they are kinda right. You do A LOT of colouring in if I’m honest. Sometimes it’s literally drawing fossils with your GCSE art qualifications and sometimes it’s drawing fault lines in the field.

If someone’s accuses you of drawing, you proudly agree that that is the majority of your degree and then find some way of judging their degree. For example, if they study engineering they also draw and if they study communications, all they do is learn how to talk to people.

4. There are Field Trips and They are Cold

Having just finished my first year, I can confidently say that sleeping in a caravan in Pembrokeshire in March while it was snowing has not been a highlight of my university experience. Luckily for me, I managed to escape after 2 days but that’s another story.

With an Earth Science degree, you will 100% have at least 1 field trip every year. It’s actually a requirement from the Geological Society in order to become a certified geologist. The field trips actually are so helpful (especially if you have no idea what’s going on in lectures). Being able to see features in the field help to solidify how the processes of rocks form and just like what was going on 350 million years ago (a lot btw).

Try to enjoy being cold while drawing pictures of rocks, it’s some of the best times of your degree.

5. Not Everyone is like Howard from Fresh Meat

After watching Fresh Meat, I genuinely thought that all geologists were nerdy male scientists who spent their time travelling to holiday destinations with cool rock formations. I was partially wrong. In my degree, I would say that it is a 50/50 split between genders and most of the people are actually normal and will do normal student things (like clubbing and taking part in societies). Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely nerds on my course, but I’ve managed to make a group of friends who don’t just talk about rocks all the time.

6. No Matter How Hard you Try, you LOVE Rocks

So when I joined my degree I was set that I thought rocks were boring and that I would hate staring at them for extended periods of time. That maybe lasted 4 weeks. Looking at rocks like the one below under a microscope really changed how I think everyone felt about rocks. They’re stunning. Not only this, but they tell a story about the environment, the climate and the geography of what that time period was like.

The moment I realised I love staring at rocks was during a practical and we were staring at a trilobite. I just remember thinking that this species went extinct like 250 million years ago but we can still look at them today to deduce where the trilobite would have lived, the environment in which it died and what this meant for the global climate at the time. I just thought that it was kinda cool that a tiny dead organism could show that.

Just accept that you get excited by rocks and move on.

The Earth is flat. Arguments and Responses.

Do you believe?

It seems to be a hot topic at the moment. Is the world really flat? Are all photos from space a conspiracy from NASA? Well, I’ve decided to outline the arguments for and against this ‘flat earth’ theory because really, I do think it is pretty stupid. I know a lot of these arguments may make sense but listening to science, astronomy and physics, I think it’s difficult for these arguments to stand.  If you still believe in the Flat Earth theory after hearing these arguments then I have to shut up, but from an earth science perspective, I couldn’t understand why you would actually believe this (though that won’t stop me from wearing the t-shirts).

The earth is surrounded by an ice wall

As the animation shows, the earth is seen to be a disc that is surrounded by an ice wall that manages to hold oceans back. According to conspiracists, explorers have traveled here but have not returned to tell the story and now travel is banned to Antarctica for these reasons.

This doesn’t make sense. They believe that if you reach the outside ‘wall’ you are magically transported to the other side (like in Pac man). Why would this be the case when people have traveled to Antarctica and have not experienced this ‘Pac-man’ sensation? Also, the theory completely changes the ACCEPTED world map view. This would imply that the southern continents are a lot further away than traditionally thought. If this were true, the quickest way to get from South America to Australia would be to fly over the North Pole. Enough said.

The bottoms of clouds are flat

This is one of the principle arguments from flat earth theorists. Yes, some clouds have a flat bottom so in theory, this is a major challenge.

However, this can be explained by simple meteorology. Cumulus clouds (the puffy clouds that you’d recognise from children’s drawings) are created from pressure and temperature changes in the atmosphere. As water vapour moves upwards, the air expands due to a larger volume and a pressure drop. This height where cumulus clouds form is very specific and would appear to form a flat bottom due to the changes in our current atmosphere.

The Movement of the Sun

It is thought that the sun moves in circles around the North Pole and that during the day, the sun is over your head but during the night, the sun is away from you (kind of like a torch). The sun setting and rising is purely the perspective effect that the vanishing point of the sun. If you climb a mountain, the horizon rises according to your eye level and this is thought to be relevant in terms of the sunrise and sunset.

If the world was flat, we would be able to see the sun at all times because the curvature wouldn’t be there to prevent us from it. The only way to explain it is that there must be a complete other side otherwise we would never truly be in darkness.
Day/night cycle on a Flat Earth

Photos from NASA are a Conspiracy

It is thought that all photos of the globe have been edited to make us believe that the Earth is round. Flat earth conspiracists are not 100% sure why governmental agencies want to hide this but they potentially think it’s for financial gain of some sort.

For starters, why would NASA want to do this? Secondly, normal people (such as the video below) can prove that the Earth has a curvature.

The Moon and the Sun are the same size

They believe that the sun and the moon are the same in size, are 32 miles in diameter, and orbit around the North Pole.

This, again, is another argument from empiricism so if you looked up, it could be true. However, as you can also see, the moon is not always a circle. It goes through a cycle whereby the Earth’s shadow prevents us from seeing the full moon. This occurs as the sun is behind the Earth thus causing the shadow effect on the moon. Therefore, empiricism and basic physics can explain why the moon and the sun aren’t rotating around the North Pole. The sun also appears to be the same size as it’s located 149.6 million km away whereas the distance to the moon is only 384,400 km away so will appear to be the same as the sun is further away.

lunar eclipse

 

 

 

 

Gravity isn’t real, objects simply ‘fall’

According to flat earth theorists, gravity is an illusion and objects really just accelerate downwards. Apparently, this force is called ‘Universal Acceleration’  and that the density of objects is the reason they fall down.

Okay, this really doesn’t work. The thing with gravity is that with a sphere, wherever you are, there is the same amount of the sphere underneath you. This means that the gravitational pull is to the same point in the sphere. If the earth was flat, the center would have to pull towards the middle of the plane. This means that on each end, gravity would pull you sideways instead of downwards whereas, in the middle of the plane, you would actually be able to stand up straight.a sphere's center of mass

a plane's center of mass

 

 

 

But I can’t see any curvature?

Surely because ships disappear on our horizon, that means that they’ve reached that ice sheet right? 

You see, this argument is larger than just flat earth theory. If we relied on our senses when coming up with new theories and ideas, then most ideas would be completely unreliable. Our senses and empiricism would fail for flat earth theory because of how small humans are relative to the Earth itself. If we were to go on a hot air balloon ride, we would be able to see that our horizons literally expand. More scientifically, buying a high-pressure balloon and taping a camera onto it, you could see the ‘bigger picture’.  

So, do not rely on your senses to deduce the shape of the earth because if that was the case, my current world is just my bedroom window?

Here’s the proof:

 

If after these arguments you still are in disbelief then okay, maybe you can’t be convinced and should go back to basic science classes. But if you’ve been laughing at flat earth arguments like me, then welcome to science and the world of normalcy. Comment or send me an email if you have other arguments (I’d love to hear them) and then maybe I could write a post replying to those.

References:

Cover photo: Mic

Animation of day/night cycle: Flat Earth Society