The stones of Petřín were supposedly dug up and used to make the buildings of Prague. Looking at Prague from that hill, the it’s impressive to imagine the relocation efforts over centuries.
The incredible architecture of Berkeley Lab, like the Molecular Foundry hanging out into the space of Strawberry Canyon, is implanted into an otherwise natural setting. In that sense, being there reminded me of a sort of real-world Jurassic Park. (The flocks of turkeys and herds of goats on the grounds were a bit less threatening than dinosaurs, thankfully. The mountain lions were a different story…)
So flat are the Bonneville Salt Flats that, during the winter months, the region will be covered uniformly by only about one inch of water. This layer is so thin that it can’t support large waves and surface disturbances, resulting in almost perfect reflection of the far-off hills and clouds.
Even on this bright afternoon before a winter blizzard clamped down on central Wyoming, the cold and isolation of the state is astonishing. Each homestead seems mostly isolated, and the rolling hills give the illusion that the curvature of the Earth has been flipped inside-out. First settlers on a ringworld?
Of all the plant phyla, I’ve always felt a particular affinity for the conifers. Those spiny softwood survivors have a diverse yet particular set of aromatic compounds that accompany them; I can chart a lot of happy memories to pine or cypress groves and their applied organic chemistry. Starting on the east coast, through the midwest, and finding myself in grad school on the west coast meant contact with a lot of different species. These ocean-wind-sculpted examples from Pacifica, California are particularly dramatic.
The shapes of the hills of California are odd and impossible by the standards of the Northeast. In spite of my time spent there, my brain has still not adjusted to the angles—either in the distance or under my own feet when I’m there. On a charming horse farm that might be at home in the early twentieth century, the sunbaked scene is too real to be real.