read::zebra's

A Rainbow in White Rock

In Excerpts on June 10, 2011 at 11:48 am

“There’s a rock at the main intersection of White Rock, New Mexico that’s often repainted, sometimes two or three times a day. My pal Mouser and a couple friends of his took a core sample of the rock to determine the paint thickness…turns out there was five and a half inches of paint on that rock.” 

That’s Jason Kottke. Here’s his friend Mouser:

Robb and I took a 1.5cm core sample of the rock, right through the front face that gets painted most frequently. We were expecting maybe an inch of paint or so.

After pulling the core, we patched the hole and painted over the patch. Then Robb put the core into a test tube and filled the interstitial space with epoxy. The test tube was spun in a centrifuge while the epoxy cured. Next, we took the tube to Dave Mann at High Mesa Petrographics, who cut it in half for us using an ultra-thin diamond saw.

The resulting half test tubes were a bit flimsy and fragile, so we embedded them in epoxy bricks, then returned one to Dave and he polished it down to a flat, matte finish.

From there, I took the core to Dan’s place, where we used his fancy microscope to take a series of photomicrographs (37 in all) along the length, which I then stitched together in software.

In the time it took to prepare the sample, take the photographs, and process them, the rock has been painted eight more times.

Here’s the sample in its beautiful entirety. Screenshots of particularly interesting layers below.

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