T’other day we had a couple of postings mentioning the final hours of Pompeii, both of which used the dreaded “lava” word in their various descriptions (which commenter Walter Muzzy pointed out: Blogosphere ~ Top 5 Representations of Pompeii (from Pop Classics) and Reconstructing the classics: from Pompeii to Athens. (Mary Beard)). It apparently also got the ‘ire’ of Dana Hunter over at Scientific American going enough to write Mary Beard:
[…] So how could Cambridge Professor Mary Beard, who had actually written books about Pompeii, get that important geological detail so very wrong? I figured I’d better ask. We had a brief conversation on Twitter, which brought to light the fact that she uses the word “lava” as a way of saying she’s not a volcanologist, and her book isn’t about the eruption but about life in Pompeii (not just the last few minutes of it). Fair enough. I asked her if she could at least use ash instead, to spare the feelings of geologists everywhere, and we ended up deciding that the Italian word “fango,” which means “mud,” must be popularized. It wasn’t mud that destroyed Pompeii, but the pyroclastic flow deposits did get reworked into lahars by water after deposition, so I’ll take it.** I’m glad Professor Beard wrote this article, and I’m even glad she made geologists the world over grind their teeth, because it’s a thought-provoking look at how we react to the people of Pompeii. It also points out that the city we see today is a lot more put together than Vesuvius left it. And her intentional use of the word “lava” makes us look harder at what really happened to Pompeii. I think a lot of us see the restored ruins and think of ash raining down, almost gently. Sure, it suffocated people and buried them, but it also lovingly preserved the buildings. Look! Even crockery is intact!
… the article goes on to give a very nice discussion of the various phases of destruction at Pompeii.
Just in from our friends at Frank and Ernest:
I don’t usually mention postdocs in these pages, but one that was mentioned over on AegeaNet sounds too interesting to not mention. Here’s the description of a postdoc for a Research Associate for Computer Graphics at UCL:
Applications are invited for a Research Associate (i.e. postdoc) post on an EPSRC-funded grant in the Computer Graphics group at UCL. We seek a candidate with a track record of expertise in some combination of computer graphics, machine learning, computer vision and human-computer interaction. The post is for someone who is interested in computer graphics and crowdsourcing applications, with primary focus on and responsibility for the funded project “Laymen To The Help Of Experts: Crowdsourcing To Aid The Reassembly Of Ancient Frescoes” (EPSRC EP/J014338/1). The project aims at developing a game-like, mobile-phone-based crowdsourcing application that will enable unskilled volunteers to contribute to the reassembly of the shattered Late-Bronze-Age wallpaintings of Akrotiri, Greece. The post involves the design and implementation of an (iOS-based) client-server infrastructure to collect and analyse data from users’ mobile devices, as they playfully engage with the “Akrotiri Jigsaw”. The research associate will also conduct a field study, closely interacting with the site on Santorini, Greece. Funding for this appointment is for 9 months in the first instance, to start before March 2013.
… full ad here: Research Associate in Computer Graphics