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Bruce Yardley appointed Chief Geologist

Bruce Yardley (Leeds University) has been appointed Chief Geologist by The Radioactive Waste Management Directorate (RWMD) of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA).

Chartership news

Chartership Officer Bill Gaskarth reports on a projected new logo for use by CGeols, advice on applications and company training schemes

Climate Change Statement Addendum

The Society has published an addendum to 'Climate Change: Evidence from the Geological Record' (November 2010) taking account of new research

Cracking up in Lincolnshire

Oliver Pritchard, Stephen Hallett, and Timothy Farewell consider the role of soil science in maintaining the British 'evolved road'

Critical metals

Kathryn Goodenough* on a Society-sponsored hunt for the rare metals that underpin new technologies

Déja vu all over again

As Nina Morgan Discovers, the debate over HS2 is nothing new...

Done proud

Ted Nield hails the new refurbished Council Room as evidence that the Society is growing up

Earth Science Week 2014

Fellows - renew, vote for Council, and volunteer for Earth Science Week 2014!  Also - who is honoured in the Society's Awards and Medals 2014.

Fookes celebrated

Peter Fookes (Imperial College, London) celebrated at Society event in honour of Engineering Group Working Parties and their reports

Geology - poor relation?

When are University Earth Science departments going to shed their outmoded obsession with maths, physics and chemistry?

Nancy Tupholme

Nancy Tupholme, Librarian of the Society and the Royal Society, has died, reports Wendy Cawthorne.

Power, splendour and high camp

Ted Nield reviews the refurbishment of the Council Room, Burlington House

The Sir Archibald Geikie Archive at Haslemere Educational Museum

You can help the Haslemere Educational Museum to identify subjects in Sir Archibald Geikie's amazing field notebook sketches, writes John Betterton.

Top bananas

Who are the top 100 UK practising scientists?  The Science Council knows...

Olympic Torture

Ted Nield hails another spectacular failure of those in charge to recognise that 'science' is part of 'culture'.

Geoscientist 22.06 July 2012

SparksAs the 70-day, 8000-mile Torch Relay brings the Olympic flame within reach of 95% of UK residents in the hands of ‘inspirational people’, there can be no doubt that the most exciting thing going on in the capital this month is - the Crossrail Project, subject of our main feature, by engineering geologist Ursula Lawrence.

But touching the other subject (incidentally, Geoscientistcovered the engineering geology of the Olympic Park in May 2006, and do watch out for Sarah Day’s special London podcasts while the flame still burns) we witnessed the arrival of said ignis fatuus on May 18. Since then there has been much complaint (at conferences of science communicators) that the so-called ‘Cultural Olympiad’, a set of nebulous parallel events featuring ‘guys on stilts’, ought to have been named the ‘Arts Olympiad’. And one opportunity to include some science was well and truly lost on that day, as the apparatus in which the flame was carried to Land’s End (before being transferred to the famous torch) was described by BBC World’s commentator as “a specially designed golden lantern”.

Why the helicopter in which it arrived was not described as “a specially designed heavier-than-air flying machine” I cannot imagine; but I suspect it was because the commentator knew a helicopter when she saw one, but had never seen a Davy Lamp in her life.

Now, I recognise that not everyone comes from a mining background or was brought up in a coal basin. But Humphry Davy’s Safety Lamp surely ranks among the greatest inventions of all time –its metal gauze principle given to the world freely by an inventor too high-minded to apply for a patent. Ignorance of it may say something about the decline of mining, or changes in the way chemistry and physics are taught; but it rankles all the more around these parts, because Sir Humphry Davy (1778-1829) was one of the 13 founders of - The Geological Society.

I was in France in 1998, when the French national stadium, the Stade de France, was opened. It was built on heavily polluted brownfield land in Saint-Denis, Paris - and I greatly admired the way that a TV science programme for children, C’est pas sorcier (‘It’s not magic’ – FR3), devoted an entire programme to its planning and design, land remediation, and construction. 

And that, in a nutshell, is how enthusiasm for the Olympics could have been used to feed interest in the amazing geotechnical and other scientific aspects of this worldwide sporting event. But nobody thought to ask. And we have got guys on stilts instead.