Welcome to this new column. Every two months, a geoscientist will present a brief exploration of a geophysical topic. The idea is to take a tour bus around a subject and point out some of the sights, perhaps stopping briefly at an exemplary problem or instructive viewpoint. So far it's useful, but maybe not remarkable.

The remarkable thing, I hope, is that the tour will be open access. The tutors will use only open data sets that anyone can download. There will be no proprietary software. I will strongly encourage the use of Octave, R, or Python, all high-level (that is, easy-to-learn) programming languages for scientists, and the important parts of the code will be shared. I've tried to give a flavor of all this in today's tutorial, using Python. If you are new to Python, IPython is a great place to start—visit ipython.org/install.

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