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geology et al
some days are pretty good
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The Minnesota Iron Range
Mood:  don't ask
Topic: geology et al
The iron range is of great social and cultural interest as well as geological, esp. for rock collectors, but that is not the focus of this blog. As someone whose grandfather was once known as "the binghamite king" and as someone who owns or has access to several ton of the algal material of the upper cherty division of the Biwabik formation, part of the Mesabi range, I am very interested in this.

These are mostly open pit mines rather than underground, because the deposits are just under the glacial drift. (An exception to this has been at Ely). The extraction of high grade ore is not as profitable as it once was. Taconite is another name for the lower grade iron bearing rocks.

A complex series of events over the eons resulted in deposits of the high grade ore that for the longest time made this area the greatest iron producing area in the world. Mining was begun in 1884. I am eager to see what a more recent books says about this subject.

I sell drill cores at my shop.

Hoffs Rock Shop

Posted by oh5/ojhoff at 12:33 PM CDT
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cloudy flatulence
Mood:  d'oh
Topic: geology et al
According to that Minnesota geology book I'm reading, Carlton County deserves special attention and is an entity in itself. To make a long story short, mud turned into shale and compacted into slate. Due to movement and pressure, the slate buckled and folded and molten rock forced its way into the folds. Streams have eroded the bedrock so all of this has been exposed and created a rugged, interesting terrain, esp. in the Jay Cooke state park, which I have not visited. Another must do. Have driven through this area so I'm vaguely familiar.

That kitten smells really bad sometimes. I still haven't named her.

I'm working on three stories. Wish I could spend the day reading, writing, and painting. Hoffs Rock Shop

Posted by oh5/ojhoff at 8:11 AM CDT
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A Sunday Alone
Mood:  crushed out
Topic: some days are pretty good
I got tired of that Minnesota geology book but I'll go back to it later. Right now I'm reviewing a field guide to mineral identification. That's akin to a bird book for rockhounds. Not that I appreciate the term "rockhound" In many instances, though, it is apropos.

Now that the cabin is gutted out and in the process of repair, I have a perfect rough workshop for doing neat things like growing crystals, or pouring plaster of paris replicas of fossils. I could even have a dinosaur party.

There are a lot of interesting fossils for sale online, and in all prices ranges. I can envision starting a museum or interpretive center. Using my grandfather's collection as an anchor, I would add new items and show how the rock business has evolved, including my own involvement. I even have the building picked out. It's a small trailer or modular home that looks like a log cabin with a verandah. I wouldn't need plumbing in it and I think they can build them to specifications. I'm not yet brave enough to inquire about the price. I wouldn't need a building permit because it's not a permanent structure.

More later......Hoffs Rock shop

Posted by oh5/ojhoff at 10:08 AM CDT
Updated: 11/02/06 12:08 AM CST
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Independence Day
Mood:  cool
Topic: some days are pretty good
I haven't been reading any geology the past few days and I also have neglected this blog. But I am still thinking in earth science terms......

A customer visited my "real life" shop and selected, then rejected, a very nice brazil agate slab because, in her words, "it looks like a uterus". I got a big kick out of that one. When I get my computer back I am going to photograph it and post it online as NFS.

Yesterday I purchased a siamese kitten. That's all I need. My old cat has become senile and/or incontinent and she doesn't like the newcomer. She used to be quite a hunter but with age she has hung up her rifles, I guess.

As far as writing goes......I submitted my article (with photos) about how my grandfather was a rockhound. I missed the deadline on a short story contest (again) but I can write it as a confession. It's half finished. And the pastor of the church where I work has given me an idea for another story. The problem is, I feel like I've already written that another form....

My penpal who was born and raised in England and now lives in a commonwealth nation, says of our July 4, "not that the date is of any significance." :)

Hoffs Rock Shop

Posted by oh5/ojhoff at 12:55 PM CDT
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back on the Gunflint
Mood:  chillin'
Topic: geology et al
Interesting geological aspects of the Gunflint Trail: the trail cuts across several belts of various rocks including lava flows where gabbro and red rock granite can be observed. There is a conspicuous boulder bed. The finer glacial drift has been washed away leaving the bigger rock. Granite, being resistant to erosion, is seen as outcroppings in the form of hills. One is 2230 feet above sea level, the highest point in the state. A lot of the lakes are longitudinal because that's the direction the glaciers gouged out depressions, from west to east. I suppose this is pretty boring to most people.Hoffs Rock Shop

Posted by oh5/ojhoff at 2:02 PM CDT
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veering off the trail
Mood:  chillin'
Topic: some days are pretty good
I was reading about the Gunflint Trail. What a rugged, romantic, wild west name. Another place in Minnesota that I have not visited. A place for canoeing, hiking, fishing, skiing, picking berries, watching birds and animals and wild flowers, discovering the history of the area which was used by the Native Americans to find food, the voyageurs in their fur trade, and would-be miners who found the iron ore too difficult to remove from the rocks. I will return to the subject, but I have been sidetracked from Minnesota geology for a day.

I am thinking about another kind of rock. A stone. It is called rok. My great grandmother's church parish in Sweden. So named because the stone from pagan times was used by early Christian builders in the construction of their church. I have named my little handmade-on-my-computer book enterprize Rok Press. I have in my possession a New Testament given to my great grandmother from church. Somehow, in my mind I could see what was written on the frontispiece of that little book. I thought it was Rok, and I thought the date corresponded to her confirmation at about age 14. But I ran across the book recently, and I discovered I was wrong. The parish name is not mentioned. Doing my math, I figured out that the Bible was given to her at age 21. And someone has left a bookmark, a newspaper clipping of a poem in Swedish. The title is G?. Maybe it was given to her when she left for America.

There is a new book about the Kensington runestone. Fascinating stuff. Think...Da Vinci Code. Knights Templar. Cistercians. :) I expect a novel to come out of this. I wonder who will write it.

I think I need to concentrate on the music and literature portions of my website. I have to work at the church tomorrow, I suppose. Hoffs Rock Shop

Posted by oh5/ojhoff at 8:38 PM CDT
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I'm just not with it today
Mood:  cheeky
Topic: geology et al
Where were we? Discussing Minnesota geology, I believe.

Speaking of rocks, did you see that closeup that Japan's scientists have taken of the closest asteroid? It's the one that has the greatest chance of hitting the earth. Surprisingly, it looks quite a bit like a ....well, a rock. Wouldn't I love to snag a chunk for my collection!

I am a lifelong resident of Minnesota but I have never visited the North Shore nor the prairies of southwestern Minnesota. I am reading about the North Shore and it's geological peculiarities including magma flows along Lake Superior, massive outcroppings of feldspar (resistant to erosion) growing out of the darker diabase. Also the rugged terrain, gorges and valleys left over from pre-glacial times. I think I shall have to visit that area.

Also I've never attended the Moose Lake rock show, which is July 14-15 this year.

I wrote 700 words out of a targeted 3500 of a short story about the MGM Grande Hotel. Quite a struggle for someone who has never visited Las Vegas. Somehow, I am more interested in the Mojave Desert than the bright lights, although I love neon art objects.

Hoffs Rock Shop

Posted by oh5/ojhoff at 1:35 PM CDT
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A lot has happened.
Mood:  chatty
Topic: some days are pretty good
It has been over a week since I posted. A lot has happened. I entered the sonnet in the writing contest and got good reviews (one bad review). We had the poetry reading in the barn but I did not read. Since I didn't take the class, it would not have been appropriate. The participants are hoping I either take the class next session or at least visit, and they are having their next reading here July 14. I went in and bought the other sherbert colored blouse. So now I have three.

I am working on the next contest, to write a story mentioning the picture posted on the site, which is a night time shot of the MGM Grande Hotel in Las Vegas.

Found out today that the acid a friend used to enhance his septarian jasper (muratic) is an ingredient found in meth labs.

My computer died but a friend said he can put the hard drive in another machine and I can get by for a while.

Was late with the church newsletters (some of them) and I am trying to think back to what happened. I guess in part it was confusion....worried sick about my computer files, worried about not hearing from my penpal who was sick, worried about what will happen with the mammogram I cancelled. Will that doctor want me for a patient if I refuse to take one? I guess it will all work out. Also I perceived that saving money on postage was more important for the church than getting the newsletters out in a timely fashion. Sometimes I try to read between the lines and I miss.

And what about geology? I think perhaps I should purchase a more current book (although the old books are valuable, too). I am considering Minnesota's Geology by Richard W. Ojakangas, Charles L. Matsch sold on the Amazon site. It looks intriguing and is an affordable paperback with quite a few used copies available.

Hoffs Rock Shop

Posted by oh5/ojhoff at 8:10 PM CDT
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rainy day
Mood:  celebratory
Topic: geology et al
I've been reading about the Duluth gabbro, a topic that has never entered my mind. As I read about Minnesota geology, most of this is vaguely familiar to me but some is new.

The Duluth gabbro is famous as far as igneous rock is concerned. It is very old and was formed in early geological times. Lava flows in what is now northeastern Minnesota had accumulated to a great thickness and it was difficult for molten magma to force its way out of the center of the volcano. A large mass did eventually make its way out and spread out into a dome, And then the center of the dome sank into a basin. Kind of exciting, isn't it?

I remember when I was a kid, my grandfather and uncle made a card with an explanation of igneous, metaphoric and sedimentary rocks and samples of each. Many were sold but then they had problems obtaining the samples. It couldn't be that difficult, could it?

Again, the celtic theology interests me because it is nature friendly. I do need to look into it.

I have finished 9 lines of my sonnet.

Hoffs Rock Shop

Posted by oh5/ojhoff at 11:51 AM CDT
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more geology, two customers, the rock business, geology
Mood:  caffeinated
Topic: geology et al
I had a friend/customer visit yesterday. She was mentioning how you can't pick up rocks along the shore of Lake Superior. It's illegal. I can see the rationale here. We don't want our natural heritage picked up and carried away.

Lake Superior is the largest body of fresh water in the world, and one of the deepest. It is a fine heritage. But how was it formed? Not sure I understand the process but I think the original trough was formed by a downfolding in the rocks of the pre-Cambrian age, which should have filled up by sediment by now, but instead the trough was reamed out by ice lobes. Then the ice melted and filled up the lake.

My desire to finish my sonnet and read it at the poetry event in my barn on June 16 is very strong.
I would also like to finish my paintings.

But there is rock work to do, my website in particular, and that takes precedence over what the world would term "hobbies".

Church work? As long as I have consented to take this job, I should do as good a job as I can while I am in the position, no matter how humble.

Hoffs Rock Shop

Posted by oh5/ojhoff at 10:49 AM CDT
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a sunny day
Mood:  bright
Topic: geology et al
If I go rock hunting this summer, it will be in northeastern Minnesota, which has some of the most complex geological formations in the world, also the most easily observed because of erosion and mining that has been done. I have been reading that the ely greenstone is the oldest of all rock formations in Minnesota, perhaps in the world, and it may have underlain the entire state at one time. Now it is visible in outcroppings.

CarolAnn is planning a poetry reading and potluck in the barn for June 16. It is the last day of a class she is teaching and the participants will read. Some will bring guitars. I am going to provide beverages. I hope i can get the barn cleaned up by then. Maybe I can finish my sonnet and read that.

I set the tomato plants out today, rather late, and stuck in a few summer squash seeds. The geraniums I had on the graves for Memorial Day are in pots in the front yard flower bed. I need to put a few plants in the outdoor planters, petunias, violas, marigolds. It should look nice.

Hoffs Rock Shop

Posted by oh5/ojhoff at 9:29 AM CDT
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interesting tidbits
Mood:  blue
Topic: geology et al
Mineral wealth in Minnesota includes iron ore, not as important as it used to be but still prominent, dimension stone for quarrying (granites and other igneous rocks...also sedimentary limestone), peat, marl, clay, and of course, water in abundance, for which we should be grateful.

I just read that one type of granite was marketed as "Reformatory Gray" because the reformatory near Saint Cloud was made of this stone and there were once several active quarries within the walls. What kid hasn't been warned to behave in the car when nearing this formidable structure with its high walls and lookout towers?

Did a whirlwind clean up job on the house yesterday and entertained family. Tonight I've been shanghaied into accepting an invitation to supper at the house of friends. I need, I crave time to myself. Too much socializing lately.

I bought myself another sherbert colored gauze shirt today (lime). They didn't have the orange in my size.

I'm still working on my sonnet and perhaps i've lost my touch.

Hoffs Rock Shop

Posted by oh5/ojhoff at 3:28 PM CDT
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more about nature and science
Mood:  accident prone
Topic: geology et al
According to the book I am reading, and contrary to my comment in an earlier post that Minnesota is not particularly well known for fossils, there have been quite a few finds from the Quaternary (Pleistocene) era, which is the most recent of geological ages and continues to this day. A lot of mammal remains have been found in the glacial drift. Apparently there were elephants (mastadons) in Minnesota (four kinds). This era began sixty million years ago and during this time, evidence of three glacial ages can be traced, rather than one single glacial age as was first believed. At one point the glaciers scraped the ground down to bare rock and redistributed it in southern Minnesota, resulting in the Canadian Shield all the way north to the arctic. Mention was made of celtic theology in church today. I got my garden planted today. Hoping for rain tonight as the soil was powdery and dry. I am still working on my sonnet. It's one of those no-no subjects. Unless I write that which is shocking and unacceptable, I am not really interested. For me that means ...well, never mind. Hoffs Rock Shop

Posted by oh5/ojhoff at 5:18 PM CDT
Updated: 12/21/08 4:34 AM CST
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dinosaurs etc.
Mood:  bright
Topic: geology et al
I was just reading that no dinosaur fossils from the Mesozoic era have ever been found in Minnesota with the possible exception of the gizzards but they are not sure. Maybe the big bones were removed by glacial abrasion. Some flowering plant fossils from this era have been found in sandstone, and some fossils fish teeth. Also mollusks and that sort of thing on the Mesabi range.

I have written the first eight lines of my sonnet. A couple of lines are awkward and could use work. The form I use is Petrarchan. ABBAABBA CDECDE Also I am using a few oblique rather than direct rhymes but am sticking to the iambic pentameter.

I hope to plant today, corn, greens, beets, carrots, peas, stringbeans, squash, herbs, flowers. I don't have a lot of any one thing but it's good to put in some kind of garden.

Posted by oh5/ojhoff at 9:22 AM CDT
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I don't think anyone reads this blog but someone might someday
Mood:  a-ok
Topic: some days are pretty good
I felt oddly euphoric earlier today but now I'm on an even keel. I have been thinking about celtic theology. There has to be a point at which the metaphysical and physical mysteries of the universe converge. I wonder if I could interest either Arlen or Peter (the two pastors I am in contact with) in a celtic liturgy service for the summer solstice.

I had a bad dream that went on and on. I had set up a craft display at the local school and the craft show was attended by a homicidal psychopath who stole my (empty) purse and my digital camera with important pictures on the memory stick. I didn't care about the camera but I was concerned about the photos. And I took grave risks to try to retrieve it but was unsuccessful before I woke up. :(

Searching for argentiferous galena......

I've been reading Minnesota geology again. The Archeozoic and Preterozoic eras were mind boggling in their length. But the Paleozoic, which means "ancient seas" was only 300,000,000 million years. Various plants and animals evolved and their fossil remains can be found here and there, although Minnesota isn't particularly well known for its fossils. The early Paleozoic, the Cambrian era, produced brachiopods, trilobites, sponges, worms, snails, algae an seaweek. The Ordovician produced cephalopods, crinoids, and later, fishes. The Devonian period is known for bony armored fish. Before the Paleozoic, Minnesota was at the epicenter of geological violence: mountains uplifting, volcanoes and earthquakes. But starting with the Paleozoic everything has been pretty quiet except for erosion and deposition. And, of course, glaciation.

I have felt the impetus to write a sonnet and enter it in a sonnet contest.

Posted by oh5/ojhoff at 2:27 PM CDT
Updated: 11/02/06 12:10 AM CST
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I saw the moons of jupiter last night
Mood:  amorous
Topic: some days are pretty good
I didn't think with my nearsightedness that I would enjoy looking through a telescope. But it was....quite an experience. I even saw the pinpricks of light around Jupiter, the moons. Although the terrestrial enthralls me more than the celestial, I have an appreciation for the cosmos and for the realization that everything in it is made of the same elements that make up the earth.

Speaking of which....I was always told that stromatolite is a two billion year old Minnesota fossils. This is true, but there are older rocks in Minnesota. There is the ely greenstone, which is a metamorphic rock altered from lava flows of basalt. In the Soudan formation, it is interbedded with jasper (formed when iron oxide and silicas were precipitated out of the waters of the Archeozoic seas). There is graphite present in some of these rocks, usually indicative of plant life. I wonder if I have any ely greenstone in my possession? I don't remember what it looks like but to my recollection it was greenish gray and not all that attractive. According to a book I once read, it has air bubbles in it formed from gas trapped in the molten lava, and large egg shaped formations typical of lava flows that solidify under water.

I need to get back to writing. I am thinking of a confession. The germ of an idea is forming. What if there lived a woman so lonely and desperate to meet someone she resorts to.....but I cannot say it here or else I will never write the story.

It's garden planting time.

Posted by oh5/ojhoff at 6:41 PM CDT
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Mood:  don't ask
Topic: geology et al
I've been reading an old book on the geology of Minnesota. Strange, I saw that book in Grandpa's bookcase for years but I don't recall opening it. I read most of the books in his private library, didn't I?

Today I pondered this moldy book and its fascinating concepts. Geologists use indirect clues to guess at the earth's age: the known rate of erosion and depositing said erosion into sedimentary rocks. The rate of radioactive decay. The fossils.

Although my knowledge of geology is sporadic and sparse, it is very real to me and not at all academic. Since my earliest childhood I have held in my hands rocks, fossils, crystals, dinosaur bone, ely greenstone, geodes that my elders used to make decorative objects and they took a great interest in the origins of these materials. I guess I never realized or valued this knowledge nor could I foresee the day that it would become so important to me.

But I have other interests. Writing. The farm. My part time secretarial job.

I'm thinking about writing a play. I can't afford to take the time; I should be writing the stories I can sell for the money to pay bills. But it's all related.

I have taken up painting as a hobby and I have created four complete failures. I don't mind that my paintings look like cartoons but it would be nice if the people looked like they are supposed to look, albeit cartoon-like.

Posted by oh5/ojhoff at 9:43 AM CDT
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up early
Mood:  not sure
Topic: geology et al
Rocks, stones, gems, minerals, fossils, crystals....there are so many terms and they each mean something slightly different. For example, people will ask me, "Are these agates?" Sometime it just depends on who you ask.

Rocks are what the earth's crust is made up of. Formations. Aggregate. This includes soil. Rocks are composed of minerals, specific chemical compounds or sometimes elements in crystalline form (usually).

So, what can be found in Minnesota? Quartz is common, Agates are a form of quartz and so is jasper. Then there are the oxides of iron, magnetite and hematite. Iron has been a very important mineral in the state. Limonite is abundant and used to make paint pigment (red and yellow ocher). Carbonates are formed from metal, carbon and oxygen, and in Minnesota include calcite, which makes up limestone (a rock), dolomite and siderite. Pyrite and gypsum are also common. Complex silicates (made from silica and oxygen, include feldspars, mica and garnet.

Granite, an igneous rock, is very common. So is gabbro. Sedimentary rocks found in Minnesota include conglomerates, some of which are very attractive. Also sandstone and shale.

The igneous and sedimentary rocks have metamorphized into slate, gneiss, schist, marble, quartzite and other common rocks. I just found a sample of garnet crystals in schist matrix in my collection. It's quite pretty.

I remember my grandfather pointing out to me some outcroppings in a field up by Blackduck. He said they were greenstone, and the remnants of the Killarney Mountains. Indeed, greenstone is the oldest rock in Minnesota and is classified as chlorite schist.

Posted by oh5/ojhoff at 5:31 AM CDT
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it's a good day
Mood:  energetic
Topic: geology et al
There is one aspect of the rock business that just occurred to me....a very distant memory. A few of the ladies branched out into shells and coral and they made shell jewelry. It was very popular. I don't imagine it would be now. They made pink roses out of little cup shells with gar fish scales dyed green for the leaves. The centers were yellow or black mustard seeds. They also made earrings out of seahorses and starfish.

I have often said, I am one of the few (although there are several thousand of us) who lives both east and west of the mighty Mississippi River. After it leaves the headwaters at Lake Itasca, it loops around. Springs on this farm feed into the Bungashing which feeds into the Mississippi. So I guess I am living in the Mississippi Watershed area. It is by far the largest drainage basin in Minnesota. There are a couple of othes, Rainy River and the rugged St. Louis River with its waterfalls and rock bluffs. The lakes in Minnesota were formed when the glaciers retreated and are left over from ancient glacial lakes such as Agassiz. Some of the lakes have filled in with peat.

I enjoy reviewing Minnesota's geological history now and then.

Posted by oh5/ojhoff at 11:04 AM CDT
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glaciation I guess
Mood:  quizzical
Topic: geology et al
Today I helped clean the lower level of the barn where rocks have been stored, and although I'll have to buy, hunt, or manufacture some things for variety, today I found a large enough cache to keep me busy all summer.

When I traveled with my grandparents as a kid, my grandfather used to decribe the lay of the land. He would say things like, "This all used to be ocean bottom". I discussed these subjects with him a lot but not enough. However, I can go back in time and revisit some of these subjects. I still have my grandfather's books, and his thoughts.

Minnesota topography might not seem very exciting but the lay of this land has been formed by the same geological forces as elsewhere: volcanism, diastrophism, and gradation. That is, the molten rocks that erupt on the surface because of great heat at the core of the earth, the warping and uplifting of the earth's crust due to stress, and the wearing down of the high places and filling in of the low places due to erosion. Minnesota is known for an even more dramatic geological process and that is glaciation. Glaciers gouged ridges in the bedrock and created rocky basins. They picked up everything from dust to boulders and deposited them in various formations. The last glacier retreated eleven thousand years ago.

I am trying to gather up all the science books and keep them in one place and hopefully to acquire more as new discoveries are made.

Here is a book review I wrote for a church newsletter:

by Timothy Ferris

This book was the text for an online cosmology course I took through Barnes and Noble University. It does require some concentration on the part of the reader, but the energy spent visualizing models of the universe, past and present, is well worth the effort.

Ferris premises this book on the Big Bang theory, which he feels is broad and pliant enough to endure. From that starting point, he explores not only a theoretical history of the universe, but also the human element, how people have viewed the cosmos from the days of the Greeks, on up through Copernicus, Newton, Kepler, Einstein, Hubble and beyond. The author provides a lucid description, and discussion, of mind-boggling concepts, from the view of a 10 dimensional, constantly expanding universe, to the idea that there are multiple universes, each with its own laws of physics.

There is something for everyone in this book, from historical and amusing personal anecdotes about scientists, to literary allusions, to the epilogue which asks the important question, “What about God?” The author feels that there is nothing in the universe that proves or disproves the existence of God. But in the end, he admits that the genesis is likely to remain a mystery.

The book was published in 1997. Discoveries have been made since then, and work done on refining the described theories. Still, this book is a good starting point for someone who wants to understand more about our universe.

Cleaning out the barn, I discovered that I am the owner of another book by this same author entitled "Coming of Age in the Milky Way". A good read for next winter.

I enjoy the metaphysical thoughts especially as they nowadays pertain to crystals and gems, but what would we do without science?

Posted by oh5/ojhoff at 7:28 PM CDT
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