Rotarian Jay Brinkman,left, introduced guest speaker Tom Clifton,right, at the  Rotary Club Monday noon luncheon meeting.  Clifton, a lab technician in the mineral separation lab of Purdue University's Physics Department, presented a powerpoint slideshow featuring his five-week-long cultural adventure in the fall of 2012 that took him to the People's Republic of China and Mongolia.  While working on a project with the Chinese at Purdue using isotopes of chlorine which are superior to carbon dating to date the existence of the Peking Man, it was discovered that he was roaming around China 250,000 years earlier than previously thought.  As a reward for his work on the Peking Man project, the Chinese National Earthquake Administration invited Clifton to China to work with Chinese geologists and teach them how to pick sample rocks and how to do the chemistry and hard math involved in identifying the minerals in the rocks.  

The Chinese geologists led Clifton to several important geological sites looking for rocks and even to some that where in Mongolia where  Caucasians and  Americans are a rare sight.  Some effort was also devoted to the study and prediction of earthquakes.  

Fourteen years ago, in 1999, Clifton was the recipient of an adult scholarship from the Kentland Rotary Club.  He used the scholarship at Ivy Tech in Lafayette where he enrolled in classes that would be accepted for credit on Purdue's West Lafayette Campus.  After two year's of study he smoothly transfered to Purdue, where he studied geology and geophysics.  This all led to his present employment as a lab technician in the mineral separation lab.  

Although Clifton's adventure was for the most part related to his work, you couldn't avoid getting  really close-up contact with Chinese Culture.  There was some time for tourist attractions, but Tom really wanted to visit a museum featuring the Peking Man. The Peking Man exhibit included a photo of those who had worked on the more accurate dating of his existence.  Tom thought it would be cool to have a photo of himself standing next to the photo that included himself.  Unfortunately, that didn't happen and he spent his limited time walking on the the Great Wall with his Chinese geologist friends.


Brandt Stum

Kentland Rotary Club