Author Archives: Eva Amsen


400px-Geysir-iceland-1The word geyser comes from Geysir – the name of the first described geyser known to European scientists and explorers.

Much of what we know about Geysir in Iceland, and about geysers in general, comes from work carried out by Robert Bunsen in 1846. (Yes, that Bunsen, of the bunsen burner.)

He discovered that geyser activity was caused by heating of underground water at a particular point, while the rest of the water remains colder.

Geysir is thought to have been active for about 10,000 years, and is still active, although it’s not always predictable. Until the 1990s, eruptions were sometimes induced with soap so that the geyser could go off on command for special occasions, but that practice was abandoned out of environmental concerns.


Images: Active Geysir by Joaoleitao via Wikipedia; Quiet Geysir by Andreas Tille, via Wikimedia

Updated Travel Map!

We’ve updated the travel map with all current “Have Science, Will Travel” posts from The Finch and Pea, as well as some posts and videos found elsewhere on the web.

Google Maps has some exciting new icons so we updated those as well. A museum icon for museums, a flask for interactive hands-on science museums, trees/waves/mountains for national parks and particular ecologies, and some animals where appropriate. (Animals approximated: general rodent for bats, elephant for any animal park, fish for any aquatic park or fish-related site.) Moon for observatories, and you can try to work out the rest on the map itself on the map below.

Europe’s oldest pharmacy

5753664351_21fd3e748c_zPrepared wolf guts, sun-bleached dog faeces, coffee, and an overseas human mummy. These are just some of the things you could find in an Estonian pharmacy in 1695.

This particular pharmacy is still in business. Records of the Raeapteek in Tallinn, Estonia, go back to 1422, when it was already on its third owner. With records going back to the middle ages, it is believed to be the oldest continuously running pharmacy in Europe.

Raeapteek Continue reading

Science, Gaudí, Barcelona

In the basement of the Sagrada Família is a model of a church that Gaudí designed – upside down! The model of the unfinished church at Colonia Güell is made out of strings and little weights. The weights pull the string into the shape of the final building.

Model of Church at Colonia Guell

Gaudí designed the Sagrada Família by similar gravitational principles, although he didn’t build the entire cathedral upside down out of string. The exhibit in the basement shows a bit more of the math and science behind that construction. Continue reading


When I want to go to GMail, I usually type in “gm” in the browser address bar, and it autofills to GMail. Sometimes this doesn’t work, and I end up looking at the Google page with stock info for General Motors.

Through a similar mishap, I recently learned about the Ethiopian town of Fincha when I tried to go to The Finch And Pea site. Fincha’s economy is largely supported by the local sugar industry, which in turn depends on the Fincha Hydroelectric Power Station, which generates electricity for over 60 thousand homes as well as the sugar factory.

Here’s a video about the sugar factory, which also touches on the production process and related research into biofuels. I learned that the sugar factory also generates electricity itself, and can be self-sufficient.

The things you learn when you clumsily try to type shortcuts in your browser!