Sharing things

Emma and Lorna: The colour spectrum of soil, links between science and art and the Salem witch trials.

May 27, 2021 The University of Edinburgh Season 4 Episode 4
Sharing things
Emma and Lorna: The colour spectrum of soil, links between science and art and the Salem witch trials.
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Sharing things
Emma and Lorna: The colour spectrum of soil, links between science and art and the Salem witch trials.
May 27, 2021 Season 4 Episode 4
The University of Edinburgh

In our fourth episode of season 4, guests Emma Aviet and Lorna Dawson talk about the colour spectrum of soil, links between science and art and the Salem witch trials.

Emma is currently completing her PhD in English Literature at the University of Edinburgh. Originally from California, she moved to Edinburgh in 2018 to pursue her MSc in Literature and Society, after completing degrees in both English Literature and Psychology at the University of California, Berkeley. 

Lorna is Head of the Soil Forensics Group at the James Hutton Institute, an interdisciplinary research institute based in Scotland which drives the sustainable use of land and natural resources. Since completing her BSc in Geography at the University, Lorna has over 30 years’ experience in managing and conducting research in soil and plant interaction, in particular its application in the criminal justice system. 

Season 4 is all about student voices. Each episode features a student in conversation with a member of the wider community. Sharing experiences and finding unexpected common ground.

Subscribe now for University of Edinburgh community exploration and really good chat.

You can find more information on the Sharing things website.

Show Notes Transcript

In our fourth episode of season 4, guests Emma Aviet and Lorna Dawson talk about the colour spectrum of soil, links between science and art and the Salem witch trials.

Emma is currently completing her PhD in English Literature at the University of Edinburgh. Originally from California, she moved to Edinburgh in 2018 to pursue her MSc in Literature and Society, after completing degrees in both English Literature and Psychology at the University of California, Berkeley. 

Lorna is Head of the Soil Forensics Group at the James Hutton Institute, an interdisciplinary research institute based in Scotland which drives the sustainable use of land and natural resources. Since completing her BSc in Geography at the University, Lorna has over 30 years’ experience in managing and conducting research in soil and plant interaction, in particular its application in the criminal justice system. 

Season 4 is all about student voices. Each episode features a student in conversation with a member of the wider community. Sharing experiences and finding unexpected common ground.

Subscribe now for University of Edinburgh community exploration and really good chat.

You can find more information on the Sharing things website.

[Theme music]

Kate  0:05  Welcome to season four of Sharing things. Lots of things have happened, and kinda nothing's happened. We're still recording remotely, but there's a new host. I'm Kate, your guide and conversation wrangler. In this episode, we spend time with Emma and Lorna, who made me think about soil and stone for quite some time after the recording. 

[Theme music]

Kate  0:30  Thank you Lorna and Emma for joining us today. How are you both doing? 

Emma  0:35  Doing well, I'm enjoying the sunshine for sure. 

Kate  0:38  Yeah, this was definitely a surprise. 

Emma  0:41  Yeah.

Lorna  0:42  Lovely day here in Aberdeen as well.

Kate  0:44  I wondered if you guys could maybe just start by like, saying a little bit about yourself just to get us started.

Lorna  0:50  Emma, you start in the alphabet before Lorna, so you go first.

Emma  0:54  Okay, I can, I can take that. Yeah. So my name is Emma. I'm originally from California, San Francisco Bay Area. I went to-- I guess this is kind of, I always try to go to academia, I feel like. I went to UC Berkeley for my undergrad and then I came to Edinburgh for my Master's in Literature and Society, and now I'm a PhD student in English Literature. And I just started last fall. 

Lorna  1:17  Well I was student in Edinburgh, in the late 1970s to 80. And I loved being a student there. It's just a wonderful city, to-- it's wide, it's big enough that you can always find exciting new things to do for recreation and sport. But you can also feel comfortable enough in it as well.

Emma  1:37  Yeah, that's so funny that you say that actually, that is almost exactly how I describe it to people when I talk about Edinburgh. It is the perfect size town, isn't it? One of my favourite things to do is just to walk around and there always seems to be a new street to turn down with something beautiful. But you also know where you are and you feel comfortable in the area. And you know the area because you've been there and you've walked around it and it is just-- I completely agree with your assessment 100%.

Lorna  2:02  It's wonderful. It's interesting, there's a connection already from what you've said Emma, in that I've got very close relatives that live in San Francisco and south of San Francisco. Palo Alto? 

Emma  2:14  Palo Alto! Yeah. Okay. So that is literally like eight minutes from my house [laughs]. Yeah, I grew up right next to the Apple Campus, Sunnyvale, Cupertino. And then Palo Alto is right there. 

Lorna  2:25  Because my cousin, she's Dean of the medical faculty there. So it's amazing. Just randomly picked, you know. Wouldn't know that we would have this geographical connection. 

Emma  2:36  That is so cool. 

Kate  2:37  That is really cool. And Lorna, what about yourself? Can you tell us a little bit about what you do and who you are?

Lorna  2:43  Right, so I did my Geography and Geology degree in Edinburgh, down in the high school yards then, much of the work that I did. I moved to Aberdeen to do my PhD and I never left there, because I joined what was then the McCauley Soil Research Institute. And working on soil, I was always interested in soil in terms of my first degree, and then I did aspects of soil within the criminal justice system. So that's applying the principles of soil science to help police search for bodies, or people or objects, and also in the trace evidence comparison. So if you've got soil on a spade or a shoe, then you can compare it with the soil that's at a crime scene and say, could it have come from there, that sort of thing. But interesting, you say you're studying literature, because one of my passions as well is working with crime authors, and they're interested in having reality, you know, the truth. So they do research just as much as you and I, as researchers do a lot of work before we do we write our paper, you know. So, equally well, the good authors do a lot of background research when they're writing their novels, so I help contribute to-- in fact, one from Edinburgh, you'll know Ian Rankin. Yeah. He's included a forensic soil scientist in his one most recent book, Leanne Ingles is her name. So that's fun. 

Emma  4:09  That, that is extremely interesting. That's one of those things that I think of, you know, all of the different crime shows that I watched as a kid. And I remember them always talking about that in kind of like the background. So that's so cool to be able to actually meet someone who does that, it feels like it's almost like a TV character moment [laughter]. 

Lorna  4:28  Yeah, it's the fun side of the job.

Kate  4:32  Lorna, your object that you've brought along today is, it's very much related to the work that you do. So can you tell tell us about the object that you brought with you?

Lorna  4:44  Okay, so the object that I brought along because I used it in Edinburgh when I was an undergraduate, which was a Munsell soil colour chart. So basically what it is, it's, you know, you get your, your chips for the colour of the wall that you're going to paint it? Whether it's moss green or orchid yellow or that sort of thing. Well, it's a book, it's the same principle as the decorating your house charts. But these are all colours that you find are in soil. So it's a semi objective measure, so it's based on hue, value and chroma, three dimensions, three aspects of soil. So in this book, there's a whole range of different colours. So this is gley soil, so very wet soils in Scotland have got this very grey-green colours, whereas the, the warmer tones here are in more of our blown earth soils in Scotland. So it's just one of the attributes that we can use to describe soils and differentiate them. So I use that in my first tier of when I'm looking at forensic soil samples, where I can say, well, they can't have come from there because they're different. They're so different in their colour. So it's the first level, so I'm still using it now. And it's a lovely, lovely thing to use.

Emma  6:00  I was gonna say, I'm shocked by how - not to use the cliché word - aesthetically pleasing that book was as well [laughs]. You know, when you, when you look at the world, it's obvious that it's beautiful, but to see it kind of laid out in almost that systematic way, you're like, wow, we've really, you know, hit all the beautiful colours that are out there in the world to just have that in that book, and it to be so useful as well, that's pretty cool to see.

Lorna  6:23  And there's some of my colleagues in America, obviously, there's soil scientists in America all around the world, soil is very important at the moment in terms of our understanding, in terms of climate change, in terms of protecting biodiversity. So we need to have healthy soils to protect our whole planet. So some of my colleagues in America have developed soil and art. And they've actually developed palates with natural soil colours and they paint pictures with just the natural pigments. It's wonderful.

Emma  6:49  It reminds me, I mean, it does look like an art project, almost. I was at the Modern Art Museum in Edinburgh recently, and they had a display that was like all the colours of the galaxy, they had like this big kind of wheel. And I wonder if you could almost do something with all the different soils of the world and kind of do a similar sort of art project, it seems like it's just begging to happen, I feel like. 

Lorna  7:10  Well, in 2022, we're hosting the International Union of Soil Science. So that's a conference that's held every four years, and we're hosting it in Glasgow, so we have a session on soil and art. So maybe there could be something we plan and develop together for that? 

[Theme music]

Kate  7:30  Is it something that you physically use, Lorna, that book in terms of comparing it? Or is it-- has it now been digitised in the work that you do?

Lorna  7:39  That's a very good question, Kate. And I still do use it, I take it with me in the field, so that if I'm going to a site, I can actually record the colour using that in the field. However, in the lab, if we're trying to get a more quantitative measure of colour, we would use what is called a spectrophotometer. So it gives the reflectance of that, but it's measured quantitatively. It means that you can repeat it, and you can get values from it. Whereas this is, it's a subjective measure. And obviously, if you've got more light, you'll get a different colour that you see if you need glasses, or if you're in a different lit environment. So it has got a subjective element to it. That's why also in the field, there can be moisture, and that affects colour. So we dry it out before we do it in the laboratory as well.

Kate  8:27  I'm also thinking about things like, how different colour can look when it's online compared to when you see it in person. Yeah, I'm thinking about something as simple as like, buying wallpaper or something like that, you get it and you're like, this is not what I chose [laughter]. 

Emma  8:41  Yeah, and I'm glad that you pointed out the, you know, subjective aspect of the colour. Because I mean, when I was looking at that, and like, I also think to myself, like, I would be so bad at this. Whenever, first of all, like I always disagree, I feel like people look what they see versus what I see when it comes to colour. And then to have it be something that actually, you know, gives you some information, I feel like I would just be like, yeah, it could be this one, it could be this one, and I would not be able to decide.

Lorna  9:05  I'm one of the lucky people that have this power of facial recognition and spatial recognition so that I'm quite good at that subjective side of it. And I think it's possibly something that helps me in the work that I do, being able to differentiate soils that are different in terms of colour and texture and structure all together.

[Theme music]

Kate  9:29  Emma, can you tell us about the object that you brought along today?

Emma  9:32  Yeah, so it's, it's a photo of my great grandfather. I'll hold it up here. It's actually just the picture of the photo because the actual photo is back in America. And this is him as a PhD student in Edinburgh in the 1930s actually, and it was just really cool. It's a picture of his whole class and then there's a picture of him on a hill with two friends and a border collie because apparently they used to go hill walking all the time, go and roam the, you know, the Scottish Highlands as well as walk around the streets of Edinburgh. And I'm pretty sure it's kind of hard to see, but that is the courtyard of the Divinity college because he was a PhD student of Divinity. And it's funny because I'm pretty sure the photo said, Ed Ravenscroft, who I still used, it's a company that's off of George Street that I still used for my robes for my masters. So it was just really cool to see. My grandpa sent me these photos in a short biography of my great grandpa. And it was so interesting to hear about his journey here, especially in the 1930s. He was here from 37 to 39, when he had to leave, because I think, you know, it wasn't, I think we all kind of realise that there's something happening around 39, the war was kicking off everything. So you had to go home, back to the US, but it's just really cool to see. And now being a PhD student here, I actually found his thesis in the archives. Yeah, it was really cool. And one of the really interesting things is that we actually are writing on slightly similar topics. And we have kind of similar points of views on things. So we're both writing right now about liberal Christians reactions to orthodoxy in the 1850s, which sounds very specific [laughs]. I never had a chance to meet my great grandpa in the capacity of him as a-- definitely not as an academic, but even as a minister. Because when I knew him, I was really, really, really young and he was, I think, in his 90s. So I never really got to have that conversation with him, or know what he was writing about as a PhD student. So I was really lucky to be able to come here and then find that and read that and just be like, oh my God, this is such a cool connection in such a weird parallel.

Lorna  11:56  That's brilliant. That is so lovely, that, without you having discussed it even, with him, you've got this hidden link with him that is established. But the common, common focus is Edinburgh. And actually, that you say that, my grandfather studied Agriculture in Edinburgh, before I did, and I didn't even know that until my dad told me that later on. Because at that time, also, there weren't so many people went to university, as there are now. So-- and I didn't know that when I chose Edinburgh to go to study either. But so, we've both got grandparents and great grandparents that actually set the path for us to follow, but we didn't even know it.

Emma  12:32  Yeah, it is, it's so, you know, if I don't believe in things like fate that much. But it kind of feels like that sometimes and I like to think about when I'm walking around campus, or when I'm walking around these streets that are so old, right, they're hundreds and hundreds of years old, even then my great grandpa to be like, oh, my-- like he could have seen the same view, he could have been standing in the same spot. We could have been reading the same books, the books that I'm reading are books from, like, literally like the 1800s. Like they're, they're, they're not new. It's just really interesting to be able to think about that. And to kind of feel like there's some sort of loop and like you say, there's that path that they set out for us. I can't really think about my grandpa-- my great grandpa, and this is on my mom's side, without also thinking about my dad's side, because he's from Iran, and he is an Armenian, and he had to flee during the 1970s revolution in Iran. And that just wasn't an option, like none of that, the path to education and, and all those things, and I won't get the chance probably to go back and walk the streets that he's from, I probably won't get to visit Tehran and see where he used to live. So I feel really grateful when I look at my mom's side and see how those sort of structures like a university preserved that history for me. Like, they kept that thesis for me so that I could come back 100 years from now and look at it and read it. And so I'm just really grateful and it makes me realise on both sides of my family that both of their journeys are something that I really need to look back and appreciate and think about where it gets me today. 

[Theme music]

Lorna  14:11  I'm interested to know, what role does science plays if at all, within your studies?

Emma  14:17  Well, it's funny that you say that because there is-- there are some aspects of science that I wanted to bring in when I was looking at my future as a researcher. I did do also an undergraduate degree in psychology and more bio-psych. So I did how hormones influence behaviour and I was thinking that there'd be a really interesting way to try and tie that in. But I still think that's a question for me, that I'm really trying to work out. It's funny that you say that you're working on crime novels, I took a few courses on Scandinavian crime fiction. And during that I tried to use some science to investigate why authors write certain responses to fear or how they try to stimulate fear. What exactly is happening there and you know, some of it was biological science, psychology, some of it was more social psychology. So soft science, definitely. But yeah, I think I realised when I was doing that, that I don't yet know how to meld those two worlds together. I love science. I really love biology, I love thinking about those different things that work in our lives. And to be honest, I really miss it now that I'm just focusing on my PhD in English. But I think it's definitely a question that I would love to be able to, like, explore more fully when I come into hopefully, my next step of research. And hopefully, if my journey continues after my PhD. As it stands with what I'm writing right now, I am writing about people's perception of science in the 1850s. And before too, because one of the big things that the liberal Christians were pushing was that natural science was evidence of God's work, and that you should believe that science is what he intended, and that things like evolution, are just a further extension of his grand design. And I say all these things, I'm not religious myself. None of these things are necessarily reflecting any of my beliefs. But I do find them really interesting to read about and how people were having these conversations and what it meant to accept science, I think was a really interesting point in the 1800s. You know, was it threatening to your world view? Or was it expanding it?

Lorna  16:24  And I think it must be-- to get your mind set back in that that age, because we're so much influenced by what's going on about us now with almost visual and auditory overload as it were. But one of the reasons that I think it's important that authors, and also authors that write historical crime novels, they take science into account is because in the States and in the UK, where you have the judge and jury, the jury is the trier of the fact. So it's important that we communicate with the public in as best a possible way that they understand how science is not categoric. Forensic science is a series of different sciences. And they've all got levels of uncertainty. There's never actually a match and never 100% match you get between the questioned and a known sample. And I think where you get the CSI effect so the modern TV shows that expect you to have 100% result in five minutes. So that tells you whether the person is guilty or not guilty. So it's important that we do include that knowledge and awareness within the readers and within the society, and people that are making those decisions.

Kate  17:41  Interesting that you say that and it sort of links back to what you were saying, how you, you know, assist with crime novels, and you know, basically making sure that is the truth that, that is there, and that is being published. So why is it important for you that it is authentic and truthful?

Lorna  17:59  Well, it's so important that the work that I do is for the courts so that its objective, impartial and any opinion or evaluation that I make is based on evidence, it's based on data. And we can see the importance of that in the current pandemic, the COVID pandemic, it's important that any decisions that are made are based on sound science, based on robust science that has been tested, and that you can rely on any evaluation that is made if the data that is based upon is accurate. The trouble is that you know, the most ultimate important decision of someone, their freedom in court, that's absolutely imperative. It's just as imperative however, that if you're making decisions that affect life and death decisions, such as the COVID pandemic, that has to be based on true science, and actual data, to build that knowledge base to make the policy decisions that keep us safe.

Emma  18:53  So interesting that you say that, Lorna, part of what I'm focusing on in the 1850s actually is them using the Salem witch trials, and how no one was relying on evidence there. And no one was relying on science and no one was relying on anything other than subjective opinions, to persecute and to ultimately kill so many people. And that is part of the argument that the liberal Christians were making in the 1800s for accepting science. And that is the only way to get like definitive proof. Science isn't-- has no preference to one group or another. It's not going to save someone if they don't deserve to be exonerated, it's not going to condemn someone if they don't deserve to be condemned. It's really the people who are going to be making a difference on how that's interpreted a lot of the time and if they're able to actually I guess, correctly, I don't know what the word is, assess the science or the facts that are before them. It is so relevant for today and that we need to keep that in mind and really rely on it because it's scary to see when people don't.

Lorna  19:53  It's interesting you talk about the witch trials because there's a group of people and it's linked also with Royal Society of Edinburgh, and they're reviewing all the decisions that were made in Scotland, where women were condemned to their death, basically, on a whim. It wasn't based on any, any trial, it was basically on a whim. And it was men that were making the decision that these witches were carrying out, acts that were criminal, but they weren't. 

Emma  20:19  Yeah, it is really interesting, because I know, I've heard about it and I've seen some of the things that are happening. You know, the only sort of memorial that's really in Edinburgh as of now is just a little fountain up by the castle. But I know that there's a big push for reviewing it, and looking back and, and really kind of memorialising what those women-- well, not what they went through, but memorialising those women, and some men actually, and also, I think it's really important to highlight the follies of human thought that led to that, and mass hysteria. And I mean, if anything's kind of given us some sort of flashback to that, I think it's been this last year, not only just with the pandemic, but definitely I think you can see that with some of the political events that have happened, you know, in the US for sure. There's definitely, you know, your rubric for evaluating reality differs, sometimes from other people that are out there. And I think, I think I really hope that at some point, we can all come to somewhat of a consensus, not that everyone has to have the same point of view. It can make these things seem a little bit less daunting, I think. 

Lorna  21:22  But I think that's why it's important to communicate science, well, from my perspective, so that people who are making decisions in these types of situations, whether they eat healthy food, whether they travel, whether they recycle everything, or whether they decide someone's guilty or innocent in a court situation. It's the psychology, it's all also what those people have experienced in their lives, that lead them to make whatever decision they make. But if it's based on science, we need to make sure that they can understand that science, also the psychology of it, and it's-- that's an area that, that's not my area of expertise, but when the sciences and the arts come together, I feel we can really start to make a difference when we can communicate in the same language.

Emma  22:11  One thing that was really cool actually on, I just interviewed actually, for my podcast, the Beyond the Books podcast, I interviewed a researcher who focuses on-- Anna Campbell, she's amazing -- and she focuses on mental health representation in literature, and how specifically in indigenous communities, Native American communities, Maori communities in New Zealand. And one thing that was really interesting there is that there's also that combined science, culture, arts and policy as well. And I think that is like one of the really key things that arts can really do. The arts can link the science to the people so that they have more faith in policy. Because I feel like there's some, in this case, it's supporting mental health programmes or supporting, you know, more funding for those programmes. And there's something that may be the medium can be filled by having those representations be eased into literature, because we can't always experience those ourselves. You can't experience what other people are going through with mental health struggles, we can't always experience what they're going through with health struggles. But if we can read about other people who are and either get to see that they're getting the aid they need in those representations, or they're not getting the aid they need in those representations, maybe we'll have more sympathy when it comes to voting, and going out and changing it for ourselves.

Lorna  23:25  Well, that's very interesting, one of my other-- so I've got another part to my job. And I work for, it's SEFARI, which is a six main research institutes in Scotland, funded by Scottish Government. And SEFARI Gateway is our communication arm of it. And one of the issues in Scotland is about the inequality of food and, food and health. And one of the issues we have, obviously, is the malnutrition of having an obesity issue. And people know, they've been educated, it's not about lack of knowledge, it's not about lack of information. But it's about behaviour change, how do we get people to make those changes in their lives that are going to make differences to their health? And ultimately, it's going to be through getting the right information, but through their own decisions. So it's not health by stealth, but it's health by them wanting to do it for them and their own families. And I think that's an area where science and psychology and literature could really make a difference I think, going forward for this huge problem of inequality in Scotland and in the UK.

[Theme music]

Kate  24:36  I'm thinking back to the objects that you brought with you. Specifically the photograph of your great grandfather with-- on the hill with the dog. In terms of nature and being outside, is that something that you feel like you've valued more now that we're in this global pandemic? 

Emma  24:54  Oh, for me, 100%. I love Scotland's beautiful landscape. I think it is, you know, everything that you could, you could hope to have when you move abroad especially. It's very different from where the landscape that I come from in California. Just to kind of give a more specific place, I'm from Sunnyvale, if the name gives you any indication of what it's like, there, it's sunny [laughs]. And so like when I came here, I think I got to appreciate a lot more varieties of weather, but also just being able to see landscapes in those like snow and the winter and everything like that, being able to, you know, it's been hard to be in lockdown during the winter. But when the snow happened, I was like, this is the coolest thing. I'm so excited that I get to stay home and enjoy snow. I went out and built snowmen, I went out I had snowball fights. And you know, that's something that I could do here and that was something I went up to the Pentlands and I, you know, got to do it 20 minutes away. And I went to Arthur Seat and I sled and it felt like I was in a ski resort. But I think, when the lockdown originally happened, I was actually in California, it was my one trip home of the year. And then all of a sudden lockout happened. And so I was stuck home for nearly four months. And that was hard as well, because my like, everything was really uncertain, the future was uncertain. I was supposed to be applying for my next visa when I was there, that was all shut down. And so the only kind of stable thing in my life was going out and going for a hike. And so I hiked with my mom nearly every day. And it also made me appreciate how much I love California and that it's really beautiful in California too. And when I was living there, I didn't get to really I think fully appreciate that either. Because California at the time was a place that I was ready to leave, you know, I was ready to move away from and it was all of the landscape was also representative of all the stress that I you know, I worked in tech back when I was in Silicon Valley, and like all of that stuff, and then I left and so now it's really cool because I feel like I finally have this really interesting balance between the Scottish landscape and feeling really connected to that and loving going out to the highlands when I can. And I feel more connected to my landscape back home. And both of those things have kind of happened because of the pandemic but they've also just happened because yeah, like you're saying Edinburgh is such a well placed city for it. Like Fife is right there and I've been to Fife and I really love St Andrews and I even went to the small little town they're called Leven, that was really cute. And then there's the Pentlands and the Highlands and everything. So I really appreciate it and I'm sure Lorna, you must be out in the, I'm guessing that your job gets you outside quite often? 

Lorna  27:25  Well, of course with our work, we can travel outwith our zoned areas during the pandemic. So, you know, there were reasons to travel across the country. That did make you appreciate some of those beautiful places in Scotland, some of the Highlands, beautiful mountains we've got and with the dustings of snow, they just look so amazing. And I think that's the thing about Scotland, we've got such a diversity of landscapes, the countryside, but, but also our cities, beautiful cityscapes that we have in all our cities, not only Edinburgh. Also one of the things I'm not sure I want to ask you is have you ever read any of the books by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle?

Emma  28:08  Yes, I've read the classic Sherlock, a couple classic Sherlock Holmes novels. Yeah.

Lorna  28:14  Because that was what first got me interested in, when I was young, I read all of them. And he talked about the colour of the soil in the streets of London. You could tell which area of London that the person had come from by the soil colour on their shoes. So that's interesting because he actually first started his study in Edinburgh.

Emma  28:37  I think that's really interesting too, because one thing that really struck me about Edinburgh, you know, you say like the colour of the soil and I know this isn't exactly soil, but one thing that really strikes me about the UK is because there's so much stonework. Just seeing all the colours of the buildings because of the stonework and Edinburgh has like that very special colour sandstone I believe that's everywhere. 

Lorna  28:57  It is, yeah. 

Emma  28:58  And that's something that I feel like is just so iconic when you're walking around the streets, and you see that everywhere and like the colour of-- and that's something that I identify with Edinburgh. And then if you go to a different you know, British or UK town, sometimes different stonework, and you're like oh yeah, this is a different city. It makes sense, different stones, you know, when you get into the technical aspect, if it gets on your shoe and analysed maybe by...

Lorna  29:23  That's the fantastic geology that we've got from the younger rocks as it were, those sedimentary sandstone type rocks in the central belt, but they're redder colour around Edinburgh and you've also got the volcanic rocks there, the plug that the castle is. And then also Arthurs Seat, and then you've got the greyer sandstones in Glasgow, and then up to our granite in Aberdeen, because that's the basic bedrock. So it gives the city upon which those rocks were formed a distinctive characteristic until the very, very ancient rocks in the northwest of Scotland, they're the oldest ones in Britain. And they too have that fantastic, rugged beauty that is quite distinctive to the islands in the western Highlands. So yeah, it's a fantastic connection between what's beneath our feet in the basic geology and what develops from that, the cities and the people that live in those cities.

Kate  30:20  Yeah, it's so interesting how unique the cities are based on things, as you said, the stone, the soil that kind of thing, it's amazing. I feel like that's probably a good place for us to actually round off. And there is one final question that we ask on every episode of Sharing things. And that's, if you could use one word that represents the object that you brought today, what word would you use?

Emma  30:44  It's hard. I've always had a hard time I think narrowing down, I'm not a concise person, I don't know if that's come across on this podcast [laughter]. But that has always been one of my biggest struggles. And one of my biggest notes from coming back. I think it's weird, if there was a word to describe both reflecting and looking forward, that is the word that I would use. And I'll try and think about that, because it makes me be very reflective on the past, but in a way that makes me want to think about how I'm framing my future, and moving forward in my own future. So I'll ponder that and maybe Lorna, do you have a word that you would use? 

Lorna  31:18  I think, in terms of what is underneath our feet, and what we see now, is a moment in time that reflects what has happened for centuries before it. And we are the custodians of that now, for your children, your grandchildren, your great grandchildren in the future. So I don't know, I think it's almost like we've got here a spectrum and, and the Munsell colour chart, in a way reflects in a spectrum. And here we've got a spectrum of the things that connect us. 

Emma  31:50  Spectrum, I think that's a really good one. And I'm going to kind of jump off that, if you're kind of spectrum, I'm going to say connection, because I also feel like there's the-- that's kind of connecting the past and the future and us all in this conversation. We've all shared in Edinburgh, we've all maybe looked at that border collie on a hill and gone like I've either wanted to do that, or I have done that. So yeah, I'll just try and mirror what you said. Because I do think even though we have very different objects, it is quite fun how it initiates all these different connections we have.

Lorna  32:17  And also although yours is a black and white photograph, this has maybe put colour into some of that photograph by us talking about the memories.

Emma  32:24  That's amazing. I love that, it does yeah, definitely. 

Kate  32:27  That is a really, really nice way to round off this podcast. Thank you so much, guys. That was great. It was such a nice conversation. I hope you both enjoyed it.

Lorna  32:37  Thank you and I'd love to keep in touch, Emma. We can start our little project?

Emma  32:41  Yeah, I would love that.

Kate  32:49  Thank you for listening to Sharing things. Subscribe now for more conversations and more people. Take a look at our website to find out more about past episodes and guests. See you next time.

Emma 33:08  Beyond the Books is a podcast from the University of Edinburgh’s School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures that gives you a behind the scenes look at research and the people who make it happen. From discussing a doctoral thesis on health in indigenous literature to digital activism in Korea, we’ll be exploring a wide range of research, as well as the journeys of the people conducting it. Our next podcast will be coming shortly so search LLC Beyond the Books to check us out. 

Transcribed by https://otter.ai