ALEX VOLBORTH 1924-2009 - THE DICE
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TOMB OF THE GIANT Red sandstone; Mohave desert, Nevada. 2005

From childhood, the visual arts and sciences were my main attractions. Our large house near Viipuri in Finland (now Vyborg, Russia), our 'dacha',
was full of great portraits and paintings. Both my aunts and my mother had studied art in St. Petersburg and Paris, my grandfather from my mother's side had been a traveler and publisher of art books, and the walls of many rooms were lined by bookshelves with rare books and
encyclopedias; mostly in Russian, German, and French. There also was one forbidden library room, to which my sister and I soon found the keys. Comfortable sofas stood in the libraries where we spent much time reading. My father, retired Colonel of the Russian Semyonovsky Leibgarde Regiment, had earned a doctorate in Organic Chemistry in Bonn, Germany, but now was an asthmatic, and unable to work in industry. This permitted him to teach my sister and I at home all the subjects required in order to pass external exams.

This background, I believe, enabled me to successfully graduate from the University of Helsinki with eximia cum laude and a doctoral degree in Geology, Mineralogy, and Inorganic Chemistry. The high grades resulted in a grant to do my post-doctoral studies at the Universities of Vienna, Heidelberg, and at California Institute of Technology, from where I was invited to the University of Nevada, Reno. I have served there as Head of the Nevada Mining Analytical Laboratory, Mineralogist of the State and Professor of Geochemistry. There I received the Guggenheim Fellowship.

Later, as Professor of Geochemistry at the University of North Dakota, and as visiting professor at The University of California, Irvine, Killam Professor at the Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada; and the University of Washington, Pullman; and finally at 'Montana Tech' of the University of Montana system, where I served also as Director of The Fast-Neutron Activation Laboratory, the Senior Radiation Safety Officer, and Professor of Engineering Geology, when I retired.
My work permitted me to travel, consult, and lecture widely in Europe, Australia, Africa, Japan, and the Americas (Brazil); Consulting for Canadian and US mining companies especially in Russia, Kazakhstan, India, Iran, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, South Africa, and the USA, I have had considerable opportunity to see much 'rock' and when lecturing in cities always had reserved enough time to visit and spend considerable time in museums, especially art museums!I never forgot my old love for visual art, sculpture, history, Archeology and pre-history. I especially cherished the opportunity to spend unhurried time in Egypt, Greece, Sicily, Italy, Spain, France, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Iran.

The Southern Nevada landscapes, and red sandstone and the caves of the Mohave desert, and some rocks I photographed there, remind me of the Martian 'blueberries'! (see the Louise Bourgeois' Avenza and her 'The Destruction of the Father"). And, the Mohave fine dark dust covering the desert floor, reminds me of the lunar surface with its black 'soil' or 'dust' which I have studied from Apollo samples. The Montana Stillwater area, where I have done my latest work with the platinum-palladium deposits, naturally also have become my favorites. Surfaces, surfaces, surfaces, flashing at us their fully random compositions and always varying colors, forms, lines, and ghost-like images - scratched by the Indian tribes already long disappeared. Surprises, surprises that one finds on subsequent visits! Just as if the ground, the desert