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July 30, 2011


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Mmmm, interesting premise -- though I don't have anything useful to add.

No Sunday Sand post? Must feed the addiction, you know...

Thanks, Karen and apologies for failing to sustain you! My schedule at the moment is somewhat chaotic and, try as I may, keeping up the postings presents a bit of a challenge. However, my high-powered digital microscope has now arrived and I am working on making best use of it - results will be forthcoming....

Also, there's a major post on the mineral sands of Bangka Island coming up that is taking a fair amount of work - your patience and dedication continue to be appraciated!

I am a forensic geologist and yes we provenance sand regularly. we need to have the sample in our hands, as the photos could be of a path, a beach, anything. I'd be happy to take a look. I have some nice articles I can send, and our methods as well as the Japanese incendiary balloons story can be found in our book 'Geoforensics' by Ruffell and McKinley. Geology and topography are key to many military campaigns, from planning desert invasions around oases, to the strength of beaches taking armour, to plotting defensive positions in Ypres or at the Battle of Hastings. in fact I am hard put to think of any terrestrial battle where geology and geography were not significant. possibly Moscow where it was the weather not the land!

Alastair - many thanks for your comment. I have e-mailed the helmet owner to make sure he is aware of it. I am, not surprisingly, in full agreement on the fundamental link between geology and military battlegrounds - Gettysburg is one of the classic examples.

And I have consulted your book on many occasions!



The fusen bakudan balloons later gave rise to another classic anecdote of (nongeological) research:
John McPhee recalls a paragraph in one of his articles that posed a challenge for a "New Yorker" researcher. Physicist John Wheeler had told McPhee about a Japanese balloon landing on a nuclear reactor at the Hanford nuclear site in 1944 or 1945. If Wheeler’s story could be confirmed, it would appear in the magazine. If not verified, the story would be removed from the article. After calling sources across the U.S., the researcher located a Hanford manager whose first reaction to the question was, "How did you know that?" He then corrected the story: the balloon had actually landed on a power line to the reactor.
also reprinted in McPhee's "Silk Parachute"

Really crurious to hear the story behind that helmet. The metal looks pretty awesome, after these years.

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