Thursday, June 10, 2010

Accountability—a matter of words?

Yet another of those three-countries Q&A jokes:
Question: What is the difference between a failing, firm-destroying CEO in Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States?
Answer: The Japanese CEO commits suicide (harikari, also harakiri or seppuku), the British CEO politely resigns and the American CEO fights over the size if his (seldom her) bonuses.

Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel Prize Laureate in Economics, uses this comparison (the presentation here is slightly modified) of consequence-drawings to contrast individualism (the latter CEO) against individual responsibility (the other two). In the chapter “Toward a New Society” in his book entitled FREEFALL [1], he illustrates how accountability seems to be just a matter of words—words often used to deny one's responsibility for the consequences of actions such as irresponsibly luring others into non-transparent high-risk undertakings of the financial kind.

One conclusion towards doing the “right thing” and getting a grip on accountability is to measure performance: What you measure is what you value, and vice versa! Of course, you need to define your measurement—again a matter of words, but also of theory and desired objectives. Anyway, don't just leave it to the CEOs.

[1] Joseph E. Stiglitz: FreefallAmerica, Free Markets, and the Sinking of the World Economy. W. W. Norton & Company, New York and London,
2010 (the 3-CEOs-page: 282).

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Cryoconite, a dust discovered and named by arctic explorer Nils A. E. Nordenskiöld in 1870

Cryoconite is a dark, powdery dust transported by wind and deposited on the surface of snow or ice [1]. It was discovered and named by arctic explorer Nils A. E. Nordenskiöld during his visit to the Greenland ice sheet in 1870 [2]. Human activities have increased the amount of black soot in cryoconite since Nordenskiöld's days, and global warming has given it new importance.

As Mark Jenkins in a recent Greenland article [2] explains: “Cryoconite begins as airborne sediment spread over the ice by wind. It is composed of mineral dust sucked up from as far away as Central Asian deserts, particles from volcanic eruptions, and soot. The soot particles come from fires both natural and man-made, diesel engines, and coal-fired power plants.” Cryoconite is often found in cryoconite holes, which are water filled cylindrical melt-holes on glacial ice surface [3]. Besides Greenland, cryoconite has been found in Antarctica, Canada, Tibet and the Himalaya mountains.

The name cryoconite also defines a mineral mixture composed of garnet, sillimanite, zircon, pyroxene, quartz and other components [1].

[1] Dictionary of Geology & Mineralogy. Second Edition. McGraw-Hill, New York, 2003.
[2] Mark Jenkins: Melt Zone: Dust lands, icemelts, rubber duckies drown. National Geographic June 2010, Volume 217 , Number 6, pp. 34-47.
[3] Cryoconite hole.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Annabergite, a mineral named after the town Annaberg, named after the patron saint of the miners

Annabergite is a hydrated nickel arsenate mineral named after the town Annaberg, which is located about twenty miles south of the city of Chemnitz (formerly Karl-Marx-Stadt) in the Ore Mountains (Erzgebirge) in Saxony, Germany. Since 1945, Annaberg is part of the twin towns Annaberg-Buchholz. Annaberg was named in 1495 after a local chapel devoted to Saint Anna, the patron of miners [1]. The name Annaberg, then Sankt Annabergk, gained further acceptance when the Late-Gothic church, the St.-Annen Kirche, was built. In addition to its namesake place, annabergite is found in nearby mines at Schneeberg and Marienberg [2,3]. Annabergite crystals and special specimens now come from places around the world, including mines in Austria, Slovakia, Russia, Romania, Greece, Turkey, Morocco, Canada, Arizona, Mexico, Central America, South America, Tsamania, China and Japan [2].

Annabergite is a green mineral. Its formula is Ni3(AsO4)2·8H2O; however some nickel atoms may be replaced by cobalt atoms: (Ni,Co)3(AsO4)2·8H2O [4]. Annabergite belongs to the vivianite group, which contains structurally related minerals such as erythrite (hydrated cobalt arsenate), kottigite (hydrated zinc arsenate) and the group-name-giving mineral vivianite (hydrated iron phosphate).

Annabergite is also known as nickel bloom or nickel ocher. Its German name is Annabergit and the term Nickelblüte (nickel bloom) is also used.

: mineralogy, history, etymology, synonyms

[1] Duden Taschenbücher • Geographische Namen in DeutschlandHerkunft und Bedeutung der Namen von Ländern, Städten, Bergen und Gewässern. 2., übearbeitete Auflage von Dieter Berger, Dudenverlag, Mannheim, 1999.
Robert B. Cook: Annabergite. Rocks & Minerals March/April 2010, Volume 85, pp. 154-159.
[3]. Annabergite at
[4] Dictionary of Geology & Mineralogy. Second Edition. McGraw-Hill, New York, 2003.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Menezesite, a mineral named after Brazilian mining engineer and collector Luiz Menezes

Menezesite is a mineral named in honor of Luiz Alberto Dias Menezes Filho, a Brazilian mining engineer, mineral collector and mineral dealer (born 1950 in São Paulo, Brazil), who is credited with the discovery of seven other new mineral species [1,2]. The mineral is found in the Jacupiranga mine, Cajati, São Paulo state, associated with dolomite, calcite, magnetite, clinohumite, phlogopite, ancylite-(Ce), strontianite, pyrite, and tochilinite [3].

Menezenite is composed of alkaline earth and transition metal atoms including barium, magnesium, niobium and zirconium and further contains hydrogen and oxygen atoms. It is the first-known natural heteropolyniobate [3]:
2MgZr4(BaNb12O42)·12H2O with some Ba atoms enclosed in a cage of NbO6 octahedra forming [BaNb12O42]10- anions. Menezesite has a hardness of 4 on the Mohs scale. It forms rhombododecahedral crystals with a reddish-brown to brownish-red color and a vitreous luster.

Synonym for menezesite: IMA2005-023 [2].

Keywords: mineralogy, mineral species, heteropolyniobate, heteropolyanion

References and further reading
[1] Peter Tarassoff:
Luiz Menezes (b. 1950). Rocks and Minerals March/April 2010, Volume 85, pp. 151-153.
[2] Menezesite at
[3] D. Atencio, J. M. V. Coutinho, A. C. Doriguetto, Y. P. Mascarenhas, J. Ellena and V. C. Ferrari: Menezesite, the first natural heteropolyniobate, from Cajati, São Paulo, Brazil: Description and crystal structure. American Mineralogist January 2008, Volume 93, pp. 81-87. Abstract.