As a volunteer guide on Dinosaur Ridge west of Denver, I'm occasionally asked by some bright-eyed middle school student: “Why did you become a geologist?” I generally answer with the usual list of pious platitudes: a chance to do exciting outdoor work in interesting places; opportunities to perform research in a variety of fascinating fields; and the possibility of making major contributions to society through exploration for mineral, energy and water resources, understanding and predicting geologic hazards, and reducing threats to the environment. In my case, however, this is not the complete truth. My decision was made under rather special...

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