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Science: The Best Thing that Ever Happened to Me

It’s new-semester’s eve—the night before classes begin at the university where I teach. As I stand on the precipice of academic year 2016-2017, looking with hopeful eyes toward an always-uncertain semester, my mind wanders back to the beginning of my foray into the world of science. Tonight, my message is tailor made for the young women out there who might find themselves in a science class that they don’t want to be in. I know, it kind of sucks.

My guess (and it is an educated one) is that most of you are taking my class because 1) you have to take a science class, and 2) either your advisor told you this class fits your schedule, or you heard from someone that the class is not too hard.

There might be a handful of you who are somewhat intrigued by geology—earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunamis, landslides, and other natural disasters may have caught your attention via a show on the Discovery Channel, or some personal experience growing up in a hazard-prone location (AKA, California)

Mt. St. Helens ash explosion May, 1980.

Mt. St. Helens ash explosion – May, 1980. Isn’t it sexy?

For others, you may have no idea what geology is, but you figure it is easier than chemistry, physics, or biology and so why not give it a shot?

To all of you in any of these categories, I say proudly that I WAS YOU! My scientific career began the day I wandered into Geology 101 at Syracuse University, a cranky freshman English major determined to hate the class and just get through it with a decent grade. I sat in the back row in my Doc Marten combat boots, sulked, and tried not to fall asleep. (We didn’t have smart phones then so I didn’t have many options)

I wanted to be a dancer. Science was never part of the discussion when I was a kid.

I wanted to be a dancer or a writer. Science was never part of the discussion when I was a kid.

Much to my surprise, I found myself intrigued. Images of mountains and valleys and rivers and volcanic eruptions all invaded my non-science-y brain and refused to let go. It scared me a little. I thought to myself, “I might like this stuff but there is no way I can be a science major. I am not good at math or science. Science is too hard for me.”

And there it was—the phrase that creeps into the minds of bright little girls everywhere and begins to unfairly degrade their confidence:

Science is too hard.

Look, I am a scientist and I can confirm that science is hard. It is really freaking hard. But it is not TOO hard. What does that even mean, really? If it were too hard, nobody would be able to do it.

But people do it. Even people like me do it, and I was not the ideal candidate for a science program. I had always been a writer. I was interested in literature and poetry. My parents weren’t professors or engineers or even teachers. My dad was a musician and my mom was a housewife. Neither of them went to college. I always liked school, but I struggled with math and science. In high school I took advanced placement English and opted out of pre-calculus. Instead, I took “modern” math, which was a mixture of probability and statistics and other stuff that didn’t hurt my brain too much. So when I went to college I knew exactly where I was headed: I would be a writer, and to hell with math and science.

They were too hard.

Here’s the tragedy of all of this: my story is not unique. It is a well established fact that young girls are just as interested in math and science as boys are in elementary school, but somewhere around middle school girls are far more likely to utter that dreaded phrase, “science is too hard,” or its equally crappy counterpart, “math is too hard,” than boys are.

What the actual fuck.

It is just one more example of why we, as women, have to work that much harder to put this kind of nonsense to rest. We, as strong, smart, capable, unique, thinking women have to do even more to prove that we can do everything men can do, and better.

So here is my plea to all of the young women who will set foot in my sacred hall of learning this semester—

Come to crush it. Come ready to rock the hell out of some science. Come ready to show the boys what you are made of.

Me after crushing a five-day excursion in a snowy Tibet valley, doing geology for my PhD research.

Me after crushing a five-day excursion in a snowy Tibet valley, doing geology for my PhD research.

Now I know most of you will not end up pursuing science as a career. That is irrelevant. Having basic knowledge of the scientific process is absolutely invaluable to the overall impact you can have on the world around you. Understanding how data is gathered and analyzed, being able to read and decipher a graph, and engaging in critical thinking, are all skills that will make you a better, deeper, more intelligent person. Period.

And ladies, in this critical time in our nation’s evolution toward being a more equal and just place, you cannot underestimate the importance of using your voice, your brain, and your free will. This is the time to push yourselves to the boundaries of your comfort zones and beyond.

Ladies, this is the time.

I wasn’t born destined to be a scientist, but science was the best thing that ever happened to me. It took me well beyond my comfort zone and forced me to work harder than I ever had, think more deeply that I ever had, and fight harder than I ever had to gain recognition and respect in a field dominated by men. And you know what?

Doing science was hard. Becoming a scientist was the most difficult thing I ever did. But it was also the most rewarding.

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Seventeen Years Since Tibet

It has been almost seventeen years since my feet touched terra firma at 11,450 feet elevation, on the outskirts of Lhasa, Tibet. My first time at “high” altitude was both exhilarating, and utterly terrifying. I was embarking on an adventure that was meant to be no nonsense research for my PhD studies, but unbeknownst to me would end up being so much more. In short, it would shake me to my core. It forever changed, at least in part, who I am as a scientist, a woman, and a person.

Let’s start with the science. If you know anything about geology you have probably heard of a little thing called plate tectonics. It is pretty much the unifying theory of how the Earth works, and explains such trivial things as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, mountain formation…you get the picture. The basic idea is that the Earth’s rigid, outer shell, called the lithosphere, is broken into several large plates that move around and interact at their edges, kind of like big, moving puzzle pieces. At the plates’ edges, or boundaries, is where the action is! Rumbling earthquakes, explosive volcanic eruptions, and rocks being buckled, folded, and thrust toward the sky, all happen at plate boundaries. They are by and large the premier locales for geologic mayhem.

Earth's plates. The bold black lines indicate the plate boundaries.

Earth’s plates. The bold black lines indicate the plate boundaries (continents are green).

The Tibetan Plateau, covering an area of 965,000 square miles at an average elevation of over 15,000 feet (that’s 2,500,000 square kilometers and 4,572 meters, respectively, in geek speak) is the biggest, highest, bad-assest plateau on the planet. Tectonically speaking, Tibet is on the Eurasian side of the Indo-Asian collision, where two continents collide. This collision is famously responsible for the formation of the Himalayas. You know, the Himalayas – the highest mountains on Earth? Home to Mt. Everest? Yeah, those Himalayas. The Himalayas and Tibet are the result of processes related India smashing into Asia over 50 million years ago. By the way, India is still pushing her way into Asia to this day, making this place the ONE real-life, in real time, natural laboratory for continental collision. Needless to say, Tibet is a geologist’s playground, a dream come true for fieldwork.

Tibet_globe_2

The Tibetan Plateau (in red box), with India to the south and Eurasia to the north. The Himalayas are the arcuate mountain range on the southern edge of the plateau.

Before I started my PhD at UCLA, I completed a masters degree at Vanderbilt University, under the kind and gentle tutelage of Dr. Calvin F. Miller. We did field work together in southern Nevada in a sweet little mountain range called the El Dorado Mountains. The highest peak, Ireteba, is just over 5,000 feet high (did I mention Mt. Everest sits at 29,028 feet, and the average elevation on the Tibetan plateau is 15,000 feet?). The El Dorado Wilderness covers roughly 40 square miles (121 square kilometers), and would basically look like a pimple on the ass of the great Himalayas. My perspective on fieldwork was quite limited pre-Tibetan plateau. Don’t get me wrong, the work I did in Nevada was fun, interesting, and a great learning experience. But I would not have called myself a seasoned field geologist after spending a total of about four weeks of my life, spread over several trips, in the El Dorados, camping at designated campgrounds with restrooms and showers, shopping for food at the local Vons, and just generally being a spoiled suburban girl with only a slight taste for adventure.

My rock drawer at Vanderbilt. It is still there today, full of El Dorado granitoids.

My rock drawer at Vanderbilt. It is still there today, full of El Dorado granitoids.

And then, there’s the science. The science of the Himalayas and Tibet is on a scale that is hard to explain. For those who study the geology of this place, a lifetime of work is still not enough to fully understand the mysteries. Many geologists have spent years, decades even, doing their best to unravel the primary question, “When did India collide with Eurasia?” Some of the first ideas date back to the 1920s. In the 1980s an age of about 55 million years ago was proposed as the timing of contact between the continent of India and the southern edge of Eurasia, and almost 40 years later the evidence still largely supports this age. But the intricacies of what went on before, during, and after collision are too numerous, and too complicated, to have yet been fully understood. Even the Earth’s climate was not immune to the effects of the growth of the Himalayas. In other words, for a geologist, Tibet is a compelling opportunity as well as a seemingly untenable problem. How can one little lady from upstate NY, land of no topography except that left behind by moving ice, contribute anything of scientific value to this vast, overwhelming, excessively complicated geologic puzzle? And how could I do it all while keeping up with the some of the brightest minds (and toughest bodies) in Tibetan geologic studies?  I didn’t think I could.

Before going to Tibet, I went on many a class field trip. This is fall 1998, on a trip to the California coast, chilling with my future husband Paul, one of my fellow graduate students, who worked in Tibet.

Before going to Tibet, I went on many class field trips. This is fall 1998, on a trip to the California coast, chilling with my future husband Paul, one of my fellow UCLA graduate students, who also worked in Tibet.

After much debate between my advisor and the advisor of my fellow graduate students working in Tibet (who were both male), I was granted the opportunity to accompany them on their field expedition. Yes, that is what it felt like. Not that I was going to Tibet to conduct field studies of my own, but instead, more like, please don’t slow the guys down as they drag your sorry ass all over the Tibetan plateau. “If you get sick,” said their advisor, “they will send you back to Lhasa alone on a bus.” And the ever so confidence boosting, “Even big, strong guys get sick in Tibet.” I was convinced I would be the ball on the end of their chain, the molasses in their gas tank, the scarlet “A” emblazoned on their fleece jackets (“A” for asshole). I contemplated throwing in the towel, wiping the superficial smile off of my face, and revealing that I was petrified that I would die over there. Instead, I went.

Paul and me right after landing in Lhasa on my very first trip to Tibet (1999). We were both students at UCLA, and less than a year into our relationship. This is before any real 'roughing it' happened. Notice the big, hopeful smile. I had no idea what I was in for!

Me and Paul, right after landing in Lhasa on my very first trip to Tibet (1999). We were both students at UCLA, and less than a year into our relationship. This is before any real ‘roughing it’ happened. Notice the big, hopeful smile. I had no idea what I was in for!

The project had started out as me dating some rocks that had been collecting dust for six years in my advisor’s office. The rocks had been collected in 1992 from the Nyainqentanglha Range in southern Tibet. It is a bitch of a mountain range, with ice-covered peaks that reach over 19,000 feet elevation, and raging ice-fed rivers slicing through its northern and southern faces. It generates its own shitty weather, often spitting snow and rain out of its rugged canyons into the adjacent valley, with ferocity and no regard for a skinny girl’s desire to hike into its depths and unlock its secrets. I had surveyed geologic maps of the area prior to my journey, noting that they showed the range as basically one huge body of 50-60 million year old granite. Of course, the rocks I had been analyzing were apparently not tuned in to that story, and they revealed ages ranging from as old as 200 million years to as young as 8 million. This mountain range had hidden in it more than those who had mapped it from afar could have known.

Me after a week-long expedition (on foot, with yaks toting our gear) into the heart of the Nyainqentanglha range. Notice the dark storm clouds in the background - we had recently exited that canyon into the mild weather of the valley.

Me, after a week-long expedition (on foot, with yaks toting our gear) into the heart of the Nyainqentanglha range. Notice the dark storm clouds in the background – we had recently exited that canyon into the milder weather of the valley.

In Tibet, my goal was to dig deeper into the story those rocks were beginning to tell. On my first trip, in 1999, I learned what it meant to abandon normal life and live in the field. I left civilization and all contact with my world back home and went off the grid for more than 100 days. It was a crash course in integrating mapping, large-scale observations, sampling, and physical ability. I began to see the beauty of big-picture science. Going from a map of a mountain range, to a fist-sized sample of rock from that mountain range, harvested with nothing but my own strength and a heavy rock hammer, to tiny crystals separated out of that rock sample, hand-picked under a microscope and mounted in epoxy, to age information zapped out of those crystals with a 20 micron diameter oxygen beam, telling us when those rocks were nothing but magma deep in the Earth – now THAT is the power of science. That is nothing short of miraculous. That is the result of hard-working people pursuing the advancement of knowledge. Being a part of that process made me feel like a real scientist. It was an education far beyond what a classroom can deliver. It changed the way I see the world.

Me and my all-male pack - my family for over 100 days of roughing it on the Tibetan plateau. [Left to right: Lou Sang (Tibetan driver), Paul, Mike Taylor (UCLA graduate student), Me, Doje (Tibetan Driver), Zhou Young (Chinese colleague)]

Me and my all-male pack – my family for over 100 days of roughing it on the Tibetan plateau. [Left to right: Lou Sang (Tibetan driver), Paul, Mike Taylor (UCLA graduate student), Me, Doje (Tibetan Driver), Zhou Young (Chinese colleague)]

And, I didn’t get sick. (Well, not sick enough to slow anyone down). They didn’t have to send me back to Lhasa alone on a bus. And along the way, I learned a lot more than when those rocks had formed, and how that mountain range had grown, and how it all fit into the bigger picture of Tibetan tectonics. I learned about my own strength, and my own abilities (and lack thereof). Squatting on the side of a scree-covered slope, belly rumbling from hunger, rain pissing down on my soggy rain jacket, trying to locate myself on an unfamiliar topographic map, I found a side of me that I never knew existed. Like that old geologic map with only one age for the mountains, what I knew about myself up to then was only part of the story.

Stay tuned…

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An Open Letter To My Students, On The Eve Of A New Semester.

It’s the night before we will begin our short adventure together. Like some of you, I have first day jitters. Not because I am nervous about teaching in front of a group of more than 200 strangers (I have done this many times), but because each new semester carries such promise – the potential to inspire, excite, and engage so many bright young minds. As a teacher, nothing feels better than connecting with the people who will move us forward into a bright future, filled with new ideas, innovations, and ground breaking discoveries. Yes, you are the people of whom I speak. You are the ones who will take us into the next wave of exploration.

For some of you, science has always been on your radar. Maybe you started collecting rocks as a kid, or love the discovery channel, or went to space camp. Maybe you grew up near the beach and dreamed of being a marine biologist. For others, science is boring. Geeky. Nerdy. Uninteresting. Maybe it is even scary. And some of you believe that science is “too hard.” Well, check this out – I WAS YOU! I never wanted to pursue science. I was quite happy to be a writer and leave the science to the uber-nerds. I didn’t believe I could do it.

But here’s the thing: I was wrong about science. Science is so freaking cool! It isn’t just cool, it is the way we ask and answer all of the important questions of our world. Science is how we will solve the grandest challenges we will face in the next 10-20 years, and believe me, they are grand. Lack of clean drinking water, the need for clean energy, climate change, disaster relief, overpopulation, hunger, and disease – ALL of these issues are real, and have already begun. Guess what will help us with these problems? Prayer? Nope. War? Don’t think so. Smart, hard-working people coming together to do science and figure this all out? YOU GOT IT!

For me, being a scientist wasn’t always easy. In fact, some of it downright sucked (General Chemistry, anyone?). But I have never once regretted becoming a scientist.

Now, I know not all of you will become scientists. I respect that we all have different interests, strengths, and talents. In fact, I am envious that you have your entire lives ahead of you to choose your path and follow your dreams! It is such an exciting time. Regardless of your plans today, I ask you for this small favor: come to class with an open mind, a courteous heart, and the willingness to learn something new. For only in this way do we become better people. Every bit of new knowledge you gain, every new skill you master, makes you a deeper individual. It makes you stronger. Knowledge is power! I promise as your instructor to do my very best to keep it interesting, and answer your questions to the best of my ability. Will you, as my students, promise to simply give it a chance, respect our time together, and maybe even try to learn a little something? Oh, and promise to ask questions when you want to know more. I love that.

Now ladies, this is a special part just for you. You have no idea how important this time in history is for us women. Well, maybe you do, but I want to reiterate. The time for women to rise up is now. The time for us to be, do, and say EVERYTHING we can is now. The time for equality is now. Science is not just for old, white men. Science is for everyone. It is for you.

Women are bringing it big time, in all sorts of ways. And not just in science – whatever you choose to pursue, bring it! Bring your A game. Push yourself to the very brink of your ability. Then push farther. You are strong. You are smart. You are valuable. You have what it takes.

Oh and by the way, you can be a scientist AND be a girly girl if you want. You can wear high heels, do your hair, wear make up, and still be an archaeologist digging in the dirt, or a physicist doing thought experiments. How about a professional athlete, or a doctor, or a stay at home mother, or an astronaut on the first mission to Mars. Don’t let anyone tell you your clothes, your hair, your sense of style, or anything else makes you less of a valuable resource, a serious contributor, or an independent person.

So ladies, my special request to you is to bring your very best to class. Show everyone what you are made of. Because in this time of change, this time when women are rising up, speaking up, and taking charge, you are an important part of the process. Don’t just be the pretty girl in the back row with 1,000 Facebook friends and perfect hair – be the kick ass woman who will run the next groundbreaking company, find the cure for cancer, or write the next great American novel. Or maybe even answer one of our biggest scientific questions.

Welcome to my class. Let’s rock the hell out of some science.

Sincerely,

Dr. Jessica Kapp – scientist, teacher, mother, wife, runner, guitar player, girly girl.

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Mountain Woman Excerpt Featured on FindingEcstasy

The fabulous author Rebecca Pillsbury’s latest blog post features an excerpt from my memoir, The Making of a Mountain Woman: Lessons From the Tibetan Plateau, which will be out in 2015.  As part of her feature, which she calls Voices of Inspiration, Rebecca asked me some thoughtful and interesting interview questions.  You can read all of my interview responses, and see an exclusive excerpt from my memoir, by clicking the link below:

http://findingecstasy.com/voices-inspiration-jess-kapp/

This is the very first time I have shared any of my memoir.  It is a very small sneak peek, but one I hope you will enjoy!  Don’t forget to check out Rebecca’s blog and book while you’re at it! She is one to watch.

As always, I say to you, do what you love, find your passion, and push past your comfort zone.  Amazing things can happen when you go where you never thought you could go.

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Geo Porn – The Earth is Sexy!

It’s the weekend, so let’s get sexy. No, not that kind of sexy. Let’s talk about geo porn. The Earth is sexy as hell. I don’t know if you all know this, but geology is an extremely sexy science. From subduction to orogeny to cleavage and hot intrusions, geology is full of super sexy verbiage to get your scientific juices flowing. These titillating terms are great for blog post material, but can be tricky when teaching a bunch of freshman guys (no offense, guys, but you tend to giggle more at “cleavage” than the ladies do). I will admit I have all but eliminated the most provocative of geo terminology from my class to avoid the snickers and giggles, and my face turning red while holding a mineral up and saying something along the lines of, “Look at this beautiful cleavage!” I’ve done it…true story. Since I mainly teach students who are not geology majors I can get away with forsaking the frisky language and sticking to topics that are fairly chaste in their descriptive words. Although, I still catch myself slipping into sexy geo talk sometimes, as there are so many geology terms and phrases that sound kinky. In fact, people have made a living out of producing eye-catching bumper stickers, comic strips, and posters espousing some of the dirtiest sounding geo talk. Here’s an example:

 

Geologists getting all worked up!

Geologists getting all worked up!

(http://www.irenesinternet.com/lol/geology-unexpected-benefit/#sthash.iAyXb2C5.dpbs)

Yes, the geologists are a sexy bunch, no doubt. Contrary to the nerds of TV sitcom fame calling us the dirt people (try, dirty people, ;), a tough geology dude in battered hiking boots, schlepping a pack full of rocks and wielding a hammer is a nice piece of eye candy, if you ask me. You might not think so at first, but a girly girl who can heft a pack of rocks and wield a sledgehammer is also quite a saucy sight! Confession time, so if you don’t want to hear a personal tidbit related to my love life you might want to tune out now. (Students of mine, if you are reading this…erase this part from your memory when next you come to class, as I know it is totally weird to think that your professors actually have a life outside of school). My first memory of feeling attracted to my husband, I mean, REALLY attracted to him, was when we were graduate students, sitting in his office late at night, unwrapping rock samples that had just arrived from his field season in Tibet. He was wearing Carhartt shorts and his battered La Sportiva Makalu boots, crouched on a small metal box unwrapping rocks, and I had a great view of the muscles in his thighs, earned through months of relentless hiking in Tibet. (Yes, I was shamelessly sneaking a peak of his thighs up inside his shorts, so sue me. That’s ogling #LikeAGirl. We do it too, ok, deal with it). My husband is not burly, but he is ripped. This all sounds completely un-feminist of me, but there has been a lot of estrogen flying around on this blog lately, and I had to shout out to my main man for a second, since we are talking about sexy geologists. But I digress……….

So the words are sexy (cleavage, thrust, intrusion, injection, orogeny, etc.). And the geologists themselves are sexy (I am serious…they are). But what I really want to point out is that the EARTH is hella sexy. This planet we live on is full of mouth-watering eye candy that we can all appreciate. Whether you like the watery oceans, the rugged mountains, the lush forests, the expansive plains, or the pink deserts (see what I did there…sexy!), you can find places on Earth that will make you weak in the knees. Here are some amazing Earth pics that are, in my opinion, excellent examples of geo porn (Disclosure – I did not take all of these pictures, most are by my husband, or are shamelessly stolen from the interwebs):

Catalina Mountains, Tucson, AZ.

Catalina Mountains, Tucson, AZ.

(http://www.kutztown.edu/activities/clubs/geology/)

Let’s start local, y’all.  The Catalina mountains, right in our backyard, are so sexy you cannot believe it.  In the world of geology, this mountain range is a prime example of what we geologists call a core complex.  It is a 10.  No doubt.  In layman’s terms, those mountains used to be a big vat of hot melted rock (i.e., magma) that was underground.  Volcanoes were blowing off like mad.  Then, the volcanic activity stopped, the ground started stretching, and the Tucson mountains slid off the Catalina’s along that big, flat, tilted surface you see when you look to the north at the mountain range.  That’s called a detachment fault.  Anyway, these mountains are stunning, and so sexy.  We are lucky to have this naked display of deep, once hot intrusive rock in our backyard.  Tucson is a great place for geo porn.

Mount Everest.  Photo by Paul Kapp.

Mount Everest. Photo by Paul Kapp.

The big daddy of geo porn, Mount Everest.  The fact that this mountain is so revered by millions of people, and draws hundreds every year to attempt summiting, is proof that size does matter.  Standing at over 29,000 feet above sea level, this monster is majestic as fuck, and is the tallest mountain on Earth.  If that’s not sexy I don’t know what is.

Pamir.  Photo by Paul Kapp.

Pamir, Tajikistan. Photo by Paul Kapp.

There are several dirty things I could say about this photo, but I won’t.  It is just mouth-wateringly sexy. I love snow, so that helps.  But even with all the frozen H2O in this pic, it is hot as hell.  The gaping hole of sunlight, the welcoming, open valley below it…okay, I said all the dirty stuff.  I couldn’t help it.

Ripples, Dunhuang, China.  Photo by Paul Kapp.

Ripples, Dunhuang, China. Photo by Paul Kapp.

The texture in this photo is amaze-balls.  Don’t you just want to run your hand over those sexy ripples?  Actually, they are pretty large scale so you might do better to roll around in them, like the scene in Indecent Proposal with the money on the bed.  Sand is sexy.

Yardangs, China.  Photo by Paul Kapp.

Yardangs, Yardang National Park, China. Photo by Paul Kapp.

And from ripples to…nipples?  (Click on the photo to really see what I am talking about).  Though they may remind us of female anatomy, these are wind carved landforms, sandblasted by intense winds during periods of strong jet-stream activity.  Wind isn’t thought of as particularly efficient at causing the breakdown of materials at Earth’s surface, but come to find out if it is strong enough it can blow a lot of crap away!

Yardangs, China.  Photo by Paul Kapp.

Yardangs, Yardang National Park, China. Photo by Paul Kapp.

More nipple landforms…because I know you pervs wanted more nipples.

Qiadam yardangs.  Photo by Paul Kapp.

Qiadam yardangs. Photo by Paul Kapp.

How about some sexy geologists sitting on some huge, long, wind carved landforms.  Stunning, no?

Green sand beach, Big Island, Hawaii.  Photo by Jess Kapp.

Green sand beach, Big Island, Hawaii. Photo by Jess Kapp.

Want something wetter than all that wind blown dust?  Check out the vivid colors of the green sand beach superimposed against the crystal blue of the Pacific ocean.  This is close to the southern tip of the Big Island of Hawaii, which is the southernmost point of the U.S..  I know…there are several words in here that are extremely naughty but I won’t point them out.  It took us over two hours of hiking in driving wind to get here, and we never made it down to the actual beach because at that point we were like, fuck it, let’s go back to the resort and drink cocktails.  However, I am glad I saw this particularly pornographic location as there are almost no other places like it on Earth (none that humans can get to).  The sand is green because it is primarily composed of olivine, (you might know it as peridot).

Lunpola, central Tibet.  Photo by Paul Kapp.

Lunpola, central Tibet. Photo by Paul Kapp.

These rock layers are 23 million years old.  Sedimentary rock layers, like these (which were deposited in a lake) are laid down flat.  These aren’t flat.  So what’s up?  These beds are tilted.  The beds got tilted!  That’s some intense sexy right there.

Virunga volcanoes, Uganda, Africa.

Virunga volcanoes, Uganda, Africa. Photo by Jess Kapp.

A lush, green landscape in Uganda with the prominent, pointy Virunga mountains in the background. They are volcanoes that sit on the borders of Uganda, Rwanda, and the DRC.  The volcanoes exist in this part of the world because Africa has a huge gash in it, the Red Sea, which is a result of the continent being torn apart by plate tectonic forces.  Breathtaking.  Orgasmic.  Geo porn.

Now I am all hot and bothered and need to go to bed.  I could add geo porn pictures all night, but I am too old for that shit.  It is time to drift off to sleep and dream of my next adventure, somewhere sexy as hell. If you agree that the Earth is sexy, get out and work it!  See it.  Experience it.  Observe it. Photograph it.  Appreciate it. Share that appreciation with your kids (minus the nipple references, of course).

We have one hell of a sexy home planet here.  Show it some serious love.