You are walking along a creek bed when you see an oddly shaped and colored rock. You pick it up and think “this must be a fossil!” So, you immediately take a few fuzzy photos, email them to a professional paleontologist whose name you found online, and ask them to…

Wait a minute, that’s not a rock. Photo by Ralph Jewell

I had not been able to get out into the field for months, so on the first warm day of spring, I headed to a nearby outcrop of Ordovician rocks, one I had visited several times before and always yielded some interesting fossils. For hours I contentedly hammered away, stopping…

Palmisano Park, Chicago. Original quarry high wall in background.

I recently participated in a workshop on America’s Geoheritage. What is geoheritage? One definition is that this an area with geologic features with “significant scientific, educational, cultural, and/or aesthetic value.[i]” One form of geoheritage sites is: “places where geologic features or landscapes played a role in cultural or historical events”…

Earth’s climate has gradually cooled for the last 50 million years, culminating in Northern Hemisphere ice ages where ice sheets periodically advance and retreat. The ice last began to rapidly retreat about 18,000 years ago. Based on current greenhouse gas emissions, global temperatures over the next century and beyond will reach levels not reached for millions of years. CREDIT Thomas Westerhold. Ref: Westerhold, T., et al. 2020. An astronomically dated record of Earth’s climate and its predictability over the last 66 million years. Science 369(6509):1383–1387.

It’ll start getting cooler. You just watch,” — President Trump

“I wish science agreed with you,” — California official.

“I don’t think science knows, actually,”- President Trump.

It’s nice to know that President Trump understands Milankovitch cycles. In 1976 it was conclusively demonstrated that the multiple advances and retreats of…

“Is there anybody out there?” — Pink Floyd

Sometimes technology takes a long time to develop. One of my childhood memories is seeing the AT&T Picturephone at the 1964 World’s Fair in New York. The technology was also featured in the 1968 film 2001, where a video call was made…

Spectators at the Gondwana vs. Laurentia soccer game at the 2012 quadrennial international ICHNIA meeting in Newfoundland. Such events help build relationships among researchers from diverse backgrounds.

As most of us shelter in place, many voices have suggested that this is an excellent to time to reflect on and perhaps reform some basic aspects of society, such as the pay of “essential workers” or universal health care. The scientific enterprise is no exception; in particular, the pandemic…

Roy Plotnick

Paleontologist, geologist, ecologist, educator. Professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Author of Explorers of Deep Time.

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