Register to reply

What draws you to the earth sciences?

by jbrussell93
Tags: draws, earth, sciences
Share this thread:
jbrussell93
#1
Jun22-13, 09:39 PM
jbrussell93's Avatar
P: 372
Earth scientists of PF, why did you choose this field? When did you realize you wanted to study the earth? It seems that many people don't find an interest in the earth sciences until later in their academic careers. I'd like to hear your stories!
Phys.Org News Partner Earth sciences news on Phys.org
Simon Bridge
#2
Jun23-13, 12:36 AM
Homework
Sci Advisor
HW Helper
Thanks
Simon Bridge's Avatar
P: 12,739
I got drawn into Earth Sciences (environmental physics) only briefly ... it's the complexity that tends to put people off but you do get to travel a lot. NZ has a big conservation thing so you get a ot of opportunities here - and the proximity of the Antarctic. But I was lured in by the possibility of joining a group modelling the weather on Mars ;)
Astronuc
#3
Jun23-13, 10:56 AM
Admin
Astronuc's Avatar
P: 21,865
I'm not professionally involved in 'earth sciences' directly at the moment, but indirectly vis-a-vis dispostion of high level radioactive waste and spent fuel. Repository integrity is an interest. One possible waste form for high level radwaste (from reprocessed fuel) is vitrified glass form, while another is synthetic rock ('synroc'), which represents a chemical stable mineral system that mimics geologically stable igneous rock.

My interest in earth sciences is manifold and goes back to studying geography and geology, or rocks and minerals, in elementary school. It was from those early studies in science that evolved into an interest in chemistry and physics.

These days, much of my work is in the realm of modeling and simulation, or computational physics. Much of the work involves engineering scale down to the atomic scale. In contrast, modeling and simulation in earth sciences (geophysics) involves scales from atomic to earth size (on the order of 10,000 km). Adding the moon to that, and the largest scale increases to 105 to 106 km.

I also have an interest in stellar and plasma astrophysics, and cosmology, and those scales are of course, much larger.

All in all, computational physics is associated with mass, lengths/displacement, time, velocity/momentum, and energy - all related to - mass and energy form and transport.

With respect to Earth Sciences, Rice University's Earth Sciences Department has a nice description of the research.
Earth's interior
A major research theme at Rice focuses on understanding the structure, dynamics and evolution of the Earth's interior from the core to the crust using a diversity of tools including seismology, geochemistry, geodynamics, and structural geology. Key areas of research include mantle convection, lithosphere formation and evolution, geochemical differentiation of the mantle and crust, volcanism, plate kinematics, mountain building, basin formation and continent formation/evolution.

Earth Systems Science
Earth system science at Rice involves geochemical, biogeochemical and physical interactions between the atmosphere, ocean, biosphere, Earth's surface and its deep interior. Our research focuses on mass exchanges between these different reservoirs over time scales, ranging from seasonal to millennial to billion year timescales. We use a variety of tools, including sedimentology, geochemistry, and biogeochemistry, to better understand the role of these interactions on climate change, biological evolution, environmental change and the compositional evolution of the atmosphere, oceans and crust. Our research in Earth Systems Science is also being applied in our department to better understanding the origin, economics and health of various natural resources, such as groundwater, hydrocarbons, and mineral resources.
http://www.glacier.rice.edu/research/index.html

There are many intriguing aspects to earth and planetary sciences, and astrobiology.

billiards
#4
Jun24-13, 09:05 AM
P: 747
What draws you to the earth sciences?

Currently I am intrigued by the "big picture". When and how did the continental cratons form? How did the mantle evolve to its present state? What initiated plate tectonics? How does it work? How does mantle convection work -- and how does it couple the surface to the base of the mantle where large degree 2 structures are clearly observed? Why is there a hemispherical (degree 1) pattern in the inner core? What is the composition of the Earth? How does this all relate to other planets? How much of a goldilocks planet is the Earth, really?
JesseC
#5
Jul3-13, 05:23 PM
P: 282
Quote Quote by jbrussell93 View Post
Why did you choose this field?
I initially chose to study the atmosphere, oceans and climate partly because of my own curiosity and partly because of their relevence to our every day lives. It has turned out to be much more interesting than I could have anticipated. I now look at mundane phenomena like clouds, rain, trees and soil with a much deeper understanding of their importance in the "Earth System" and actually get a lot of pleasure from that. I only hope that during the course of my career I can further that understanding a little bit.

I am personally fascinated by the use of novel strategies and technologies for aquiring environmental data. Whether it be fleets of autonomous robots, open access web cams, satellite remote sensing platforms, mobile phone masts, high resolution computer models or just peoples eyeballs. These technologies are helping to resolve the problem, that has previously plagued the earth sciences, of there simply not being enough data and it not being in the right places. While dealing with such quantities of data is providing new problems for computer scientists :p. All in all, I find it very exciting.

Quote Quote by jbrussell93 View Post
When did you realize you wanted to study the earth?
Probably in the 3rd year of my 4 year physics degree but I'd always been kind of curious. Its a shame it isn't taught in a more interesting way at the 16 - 18yr old level or I may have gone into it straight away. Having said that, the theoretical background of a physics degree has been indispensible.
D H
#6
Jul3-13, 05:46 PM
Mentor
P: 15,149
I'm not an earth scientist, but ...


What draws you to the earth sciences?
Gravity!

No, seriously! Having a good model of Earth's gravity field is essential to predicting how things orbit the Earth. For an even better understanding one needs to incorporate Earth tides and then ocean tides into the mix.
jbrussell93
#7
Jul3-13, 05:48 PM
jbrussell93's Avatar
P: 372
Quote Quote by JesseC View Post
Probably in the 3rd year of my 4 year physics degree but I'd always been kind of curious.
Was there something that made you start thinking about fields outside of physics (but closely related)? What happened in your 3rd year, did you take an atmospheric class? I'm curious because I'm going through the same sort of thing with geophysics

Quote Quote by JesseC View Post
Its a shame it isn't taught in a more interesting way at the 16 - 18yr old level or I may have gone into it straight away. Having said that, the theoretical background of a physics degree has been indispensible.
I completely agree with this statement... Looking back now, it irritates me that the earth science class at my high school was for the kids who weren't "strong" in math/science. All the "smart" kids took biology. If I would have known I may have majored in geophysics, though I really enjoy all of my math/physics classes just as well.

Thanks for sharing :)
JesseC
#8
Jul4-13, 03:46 AM
P: 282
Quote Quote by jbrussell93 View Post
Was there something that made you start thinking about fields outside of physics (but closely related)? What happened in your 3rd year, did you take an atmospheric class? I'm curious because I'm going through the same sort of thing with geophysics
It happened partly by choice and partly by chance. I did a geophysics REU at another university (chance) and then when I went back, took the only available courses to me at the time from the earth science deptartment (choice). They were atmospheric physics, planetary science and fluid dynamics. After that I knew where I wanted to go.
jbrussell93
#9
Jul4-13, 10:10 AM
jbrussell93's Avatar
P: 372
Quote Quote by JesseC View Post
It happened partly by choice and partly by chance. I did a geophysics REU at another university (chance) and then when I went back, took the only available courses to me at the time from the earth science deptartment (choice). They were atmospheric physics, planetary science and fluid dynamics. After that I knew where I wanted to go.
Wow, that seems strangely similar to my situation. I'm actually doing a geophysics (seismology) REU right now and loving it. I'm planning to take as many geophysics/geology electives as I can for my last two years.
Flipmode22
#10
Sep7-13, 05:53 PM
P: 3
I have always been interested in geography and different landforms. When I entered college I started out thinking I wanted to get a geology degree simply to enter the oil and gas industry and make lots of money. However, after taking several environmental science classes, my favorite aspects of geo-science are environmental science and the subject of climate change. Harder to find a career in that though lol


Register to reply

Related Discussions
Free edition of physicsworld on earth sciences Earth 0
Want to become an Earth Sciences major, work for mineral/oil companies, advice? Career Guidance 4
Earth Sciences for a math guy? Academic Guidance 1