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Road Tripping

30 Aug 2019, 17:33 UTC
Road Tripping
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

Road trips are one of the quintessential American experiences. The U.S. highway system, built in 1926, and the more efficient interstate network, constructed around 1956, were created for commerce, of course, but these roads, carved from rock outcrops dating back to unimaginable human timescales, are a traveler’s — and geologist’s — windfall. These highway systems, with their maze of arteries, crisscross east to west for the oddly numbered roads and north to south for the even-numbered ones.
If you take U.S. Highway 60 out of Socorro, in fifty miles you’ll bump into the VLA. That stretch of highway can be a mesmerizingly scenic drive, with subtle elevation gains that one does not really notice until your ears start popping halfway there. You’ll pass by Magdelena, an old mining town now housing a thriving artists community. Leaving Magdelena, you’ll be flanked by the San Mateo Mountain range and the plains of Augustin home to the Very Large Array. I don’t remember any landmark foreshadowing my first real glimpse of the array of antennas that make up one of the largest radio astronomy facilities in the United States, but’s there is no way to miss it.
In 1971, in a paper ...

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