Red Hill from the Loop Trail, Painted Hills Unit, John Day Fossil Beds Nat'l Monument, Oregon

Notes on Geologic Time


Geologic time can be beyond human comprehension. Sure, geologists have broken it into units: periods, epochs and stages, but it is still mind-numbingly vast. And at the same time, just a bit facile. Let’s use the Oligocene Epoch as an example. On the one hand, in terns of the history of the planet, the period…

Large Daphoenine skull, a "bear dog" skull, about 18 mya

Really a Fossil


WC has written a couple of times recently about the John Day Fossil Beds but, as a reader pointed out, hasn’t shown his readers any fossils. Partly that’s because the unwashed masses like WC aren’t permitted to see very many fossils in the wild. Partly that’s because paleontology isn’t really one of WC’s interest areas.…

Painted Hills, Painted Hills Unit, John Day Fossil Beds Nat'l Monument

Geology 101: Northeastern Oregon


To paraphrase the great John McPhee in Assembling California, most of Oregon, like most Oregonians, originally came from somewhere else. Specifically, the Wallowa, Baker, Izee and Olds Ferry Terranes originated out in the Pacific Ocean and over the course of millions of years and the inexorable forces of plate tectonics they collided with the North American…

Thomas Condon, undated photo believed to be from the 1870s

Thomas Condon and Oregon Geology


WC’s fascination with geology began with classes at the University of Oregon. Most of those classes – all of them, except for Introduction to Geology (“Rocks for Jocks”) – were held in Condon Hall. WC honestly never gave a moment’s thought to the building’s name. There were sophomoric jokes about it, but there were jokes…

The Next Shock to Human Vanity


We thought we were the center of the universe, that everything spun around us. Tycho and Galileo proved heliocentrism, that the sun, not the Earth, is the epicenter of our solar system. We thought the sun was the only star, the center of creation. It turned out that Sol was a minor star among billions…

Horse Blinkers for Everyone


Back in May 2014, WC wrote on this blog: An American football field is 6,400 square yards. That’s 8,294,400 square inches. But a Creationist who subscribes to Bishop Ussher‘s calculation of the age of the earth would focus exclusively on about 11 square inches in one corner of the football field – about 3.3 inches on a side…