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 Published by the American Geological Institute
Newsmagazine of the Earth Sciences

August 2000

From the Editor

Find a quiet place and a few hours because this issue contains much you will want to digest. To exhort you I’ve set aside time to write this note while overlooking Moosabec Reach on the downeast coast of Maine.

The features aren’t necessarily the longest pieces in the August issue, and the columns aren’t necessarily the shortest. This change is a good example of how the sections of the magazine will expand and shrink to accommodate the length — and content — of the articles. During any year we will achieve content balance, but each month may be skewed in any direction. A case in point is this month’s On Exhibit by John Steinmetz. On Exhibit will usually be a brief look at a museum or display of geologic interest, but Steinmetz’s description of the recently restored Granary in New Harmony, Ind., warrants more space. As we divine visions for the future, we need a clear view of the past. New Harmony is one such view.

Political Scene this month is a charming and engaging narrative of one day in the year of a scientist working on Capitol Hill. How did Congressional Science Fellow Eileen McLellan know what to do and how to do it? Why didn’t she burn out? My reaction on reading her piece was, “What a great way to influence ‘the system’!” Students — horsefeathers, anyone — will find this a seductive peek at an approach to professional growth and contribution that could be applied in many ways and at many times during one’s career. Think it over. Thanks, Eileen!

This issue has a reflective and prospective extraterrestrial flair. “The Making of Lunar Explorers” by Peter Margolin is a warm summary of that history, particularly of how effectively earth scientists played their roles. We served the public well. Penelope Boston swings the focus 180 degrees to the subject of life in caves on Earth as a knowledge base for exploring life in other “extreme environments,” including “out there.” Her approach of using earth environments to prepare for extraterrestrial discoveries is precisely what Margolin describes in his history of the Apollo missions. Boston’s piece gave “origin of life” a different meaning for me. You will see what I mean.

The Comment by Ed de Mulder addresses the underpinnings of our cities — sewer lines, phone lines, water pipes — and their need for improved scientific and technical treatment. Competition for underground space is growing, and with it the need for comprehensive geographic information systems, he says. Not surprisingly, the more we use a piece of Earth the more it needs our care and skills.

Not every article will “light your fire” or solve your current earth science problem. Each will give you more knowledge about the earth sciences broadly. With that knowledge you can help other earth scientists achieve their goals, just as they will be able to help you achieve yours.

Trust your compass.

Samuel S. Adams

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