Earth & Space Science cartoons from AGU

This week is the annual American Geophysical Union’s Fall Meeting, the largest gathering of Earth and space scientists in the world. And, as I’ve done several times before, I will be drawing cartoons inspired by the incredible talks, posters, and conversations. This post will continue to update through Friday, 16 December 2016. You can also follow along on twitter (@Geo_Miles). Enjoy!


The first session I attended today was an ambitious one, called “Planetary Intelligence: Managing Earth’s Future.” The driving thread of the panel discussion was how are we going to do this?!? As the panel continued, I sensed a common emotional journey for the audience.

Continue reading Earth & Space Science cartoons from AGU

A geological perspective of the Cubs championship

“Radio was invented between now and the last time the Cubs won the World Series”

“The Titanic was built, set sail, and sank between now and the last time the Cubs won the World Series”

“There were only 46 states in the US the last time the Cubs won the World Series”

Much has been said about the futility of the Chicago Cubs in their 100+ years of trying to win a championship. Many nifty factoids like those listed above have been countlessly spatted about by broadcasters and general Cubs aggravators and fans alike. And they are nifty factoids. But I think they’ve also been overused. We finally get to retire them! One-hundred-and-eight-years is a long time for the Cubs fans to wait, and now, we get to look back at the Cubs championship drought as history and we must find a new way to talk about it. So here I am, to present a geological perspective on the now past championship drought of my beloved Chicago Cubs. Continue reading A geological perspective of the Cubs championship

Are we alone in the universe?

How did life begin on Earth? Curiously, scientists often search for the answer on other planets or moons in our solar system. After all, if we want to see whether our theories are right, we need to find another example of life somewhere. The search has taken us to some strange places seemingly frozen in time that give us hints to what Earth looked like billions of years ago when life first appeared in the geologic record: places like Mars that show evidence of fossil oceans, and places like Saturn’s moon, Enceladus, that show evidence of liquid water oceans containing organic molecules hidden under an icy crust. NASA astrobiologist Chris McKay has been a member of missions that sent spacecraft to these and other places in search of that elusive other example of life in the universe. He recently sat down with producer Miles Traer to discuss the best current theories for the origin of life on Earth, why Antarctica is a lot like one of Saturn’s moons, the challenges of collecting data from other planets, and the reasons we’re captivated by the question, “Are we alone in the universe?”

The evolution of venom

“In Asia or Africa around 60 million years ago, snakes became more venomous, though scientists aren’t quite sure why then and there.” Sometimes understanding global environmental change requires that we simply know how nature works. And not just the pleasant side of nature, but all of it. When we look back through the wonders of Darwinian evolution, we gain a deeper appreciation for certain aspects of the natural world that seem… uncomfortable: things like snakes, spiders, jellyfish, Komodo Dragons, and tiny caterpillars that can easily kill humans. This week, scientist Christie Wilcox takes us on a journey through the evolution of the chemical cocktails we call “venom,” which she wrote about in her new book called, “Venomous: How Earth’s Deadliest Creatures Mastered Biochemistry.” Travel along from venom’s earliest formation, its evolution into a potent weapon, and its further transformation by doctors today as a potentially revolutionary tool in developing new medicines.

Image by Brent Myers
Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic