What do you do dad?

It has been a busy week and it is fast disappearing and I have yet to post this week.  I also need to get this in before the week’s end since its earth science week!

This is the week when it’s safe to admit ones love of checked shirts, woolly jumpers, rocks, dinosaurs, fossils and mud!  More seriously it is one of the many public engagement weeks focused on specific disciplines which are emerging; it just happens to be mine this week!  Although in practice I don’t always admit to being a geologist, having be first trained as physical geography I do think of myself as one.  My true love is the study of landscape – geomorphology – which lies at the intersection of geology and geography and is a love that endures to this day.  Reconstructing ancient landscape is my thing, whether they are landscapes of ice or the landscapes that our ancestors once walked across.  As a child my imagination rendered forts and castles, linked to tales of derring-do, from the rocks and cliffs before me.  As I grew up I found that geomorphology allowed me to play the same games of imagination, but instead of tales of adventure, the aim was to build pictures of ancient landscape based on geological evidence, which had to be first found and then interpreted.  The creations of my imagination may now be a little more sophisticated than those of my youth, shaped by evidence and scripted in the language of geology, but imagination spawned by landscape still holds as the central core of what geology means to me.  Imagination, innovation, creative expression are the things that lie at the core of all research whether geological or not and are worth celebrating when one can in my view.

My parting shot is to share with you the punch line of a Calvin and Hobbes cartoon about geology.  Picture the first window in which a parent is doing homework with their child and they are arguing about maths.  “Why do I need to know about maths” the son cries.  The parent responds “well you need maths for all jobs”.  Predictably the son responds no you don’t so the parent asks the son to name a job that doesn’t.  The child responds ‘geologist’ to which the parent says ‘well that’s not a proper job is it!’  But still it’s a job I love!