Got a graveyard nearby and a GPS device? Then you can help out with a global scientific project designed to track the impact of climate change and pollution.
The Gravestone Project (which is being backed locally by the Geological Society of Australia and the CSIRO) is trying to collect data on graveyards across the globe, and measure the rate of deterioration on marble headstones. If you happen to possess micrometer callipers you can also measure the weathering rate on selected graves — but even if all you have is a simple GPS device, providing accurate data on its location (and whether it has white marble headstones) is also useful. Why is this handy? As the GSA explains:
Rain contains more than just water—it also contains dust particles and acid from air pollution and chemicals. Given the acid in rain chemically erodes marble gravestones (and the more acid the rain contains, the more it erodes the marble) the rate of weathering of marble gravestones can indicate changes in pollution or climate between locations and over time. In this way, the Gravestone Project can help assess whether some regions of the globe are experiencing higher pollution and more rapid climate change than others.
Hit up the link for full details on the project, which continues until 2011.