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Lecture discusses geology of ‘Game of Thrones’

Stanford alumnus Miles Traer M.S. ’11 Ph.D. ’14 delivered a humorous and energetic lecture on Friday about the geology of the fictional world the book and TV series “Game of Thrones” inhabits. The lecture was part of a series of events celebrating the upcoming 100th anniversary of the Branner Earth Sciences Library.

In the lecture, which was sponsored by the Branner Earth Sciences Library, the Stanford Geospatial Center and the School of Earth, Energy, and Environmental Sciences, Traer explained to his audience how he used the text of the books to estimate the geological features and history of the world of “Game of Thrones.” Traer extrapolated what the geologic history of the fictional world would be, and used diagrams to explain what he thought the fictional world would have looked like in the past.

The audience, which was a mixture of people interested in “Game of Thrones” and people interested in geology, numbered about 100 people according to event organizers. Following the event, several Game-of-Thrones-related prizes were raffled away to those who attended. A buffet was provided before the lecture to those who came.

“Earth sciences are inherently imaginative; I think they’re amazing. Maps aren’t static images, they’re stories, and I think that projects like finding a way of colliding your passions together is really important,” Traer said.

Traer told his audience that the original inspiration for his map was when he and a friend were talking about whether dragons could cause climate change. Traer actually tried to estimate the number of dragons and concluded that thousands of dragons would be needed to cause climate change.

Stacey Maples, the manager of the Stanford Geospatial Center, enjoyed the lecture. “I thought it was fantastic, I thought the way… he [peeled] back the evidence from the story, from what little bits in the story he could find, and actually using some real principles of geologic mapping and earth sciences, I thought that was fantastic,” Maples said.

Julie Sweetkind-Singer, the head of the Branner Earth Sciences Library, said that one of their librarians came up with the idea of holding the event as she was familiar with Traer’s work. Sweetkind-Singer said that, besides the Game of Thrones lecture, Branner library is holding weekly exhibits and will be using balloons to take aerial photographs to celebrate the impending anniversary of the library. Sweetkind-Singer said that the main event to celebrate the anniversary will be on June 11. Singer praised the lecture. “Today’s event was great, just what we wanted to see. A very interesting lecture and very engaging for the students,” Sweetkind-Singer said.

Sweetkind-Singer said that she hoped lectures similar to the one about the geology of Game of Thrones would happen in future, and she noted that the Branner Library has several maps of fictional worlds in its collection. Sweetkind-Singer said that the Branner Library features many maps on a variety of topics, as well as the Stanford Geospatial Center.

A copy of Traer’s map of the geology of Game of Thrones can be found at http://anthropocene.stanford.edu.

Contact Caleb Smith at caleb17 ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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