Except when wistfully daydreaming, admiring the sunset, or perhaps worrying about the weather for the day's field work, our attention and gaze as earth scientists is downward. No “Hans Guck-in-die-Luft”2 are we. And yet, a refocusing of interest upwards to the atmosphere, and the minerals and other particles in it, can be useful and rewarding.

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2

From an 1844 children's poem by H. Hoffman about a boy who runs into trouble because he is forever looking upwards instead of watching where he is going (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Struwwelpeter)

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As a starting geology faculty member, I encountered a bizarre situation that...

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