Onward Christmas Scientists
Today I am going to cover some recent science news stories. First on a personal note, Christmas is rapidly approaching, and I have been shopping. And I am pleased to report that I stumbled upon a local retailer that carries one of my all time favourite products: artificial ants. The fine product in question is shown above, I’d link to the company but they hardly need more business, a product like this must fly off the shelves. So many practical jokes to pull, so little time.
Moving right along, mountains have been discovered on Titan, Saturn’s Moon. Since they are made of ice with methane snow on them, they should be good for skiing year round. It may seem like useless knowledge, but it’s not. Studying how mountains formed on other worlds and moons may give insight into how they were formed on Earth. Which ultimately may give insight into such mundane things as earthquake prediction. Basic research and exploration, especially the space program, is often very hard to justify to those who want immediate results from their science spending. In the long run though, basic research is the engine that drives all research, the payoff from the space program has been well worth the cost. Once again, another topic for future blogs.
Global warming news continues to get worse. Global warming skeptics have to continually re-focus their opinions on an ever shrinking band of evidence. Global warming skeptics are like pro-Iraq-invasion people in that respect, in order to maintain their world view they have to exclude more and more evidence from consideration. Um, same as “creation science folks” too. In fact I suspect that pro war, anti-evolution, anti-global warming views are frequently found in the same people for this reason. If you focus your view narrowly enough, you can believe anything you want and have “proof” to boot. Not even sure if it’s worth trying to debate people like this, for example literal creationism was dead scientifically and logically in the late eighteenth century. Alas, like the energizer bunny, the people who believe the Earth is provably only a few thousand years old just keep on going. In any event, more future blogs, because I really am interested in finding common ground with people whom I disagree with.
However, I digress. My local paper carried a long article on how animal behaviour and migration patterns are being disrupted globally by ever warming climate. A new study says that the amount of sea level rise that will occur in decades to come has been seriously underestimated. The amount of ice in the Arctic has been declining rapidly in recent years, another study predicts that the Arctic may be ice free in the summer by about 2040. And 2006 is well on its way to being one of America’s warmest years on record. Six of the seven warmest years on record have occurred since 2001, the top ten have occurred since 1995. I don’t know what else to say except that the evidence for global warming continues to accumulate. Is it written in stone that Earth will continue to warm? Of course not, in the final analysis the future in known to no one. I wouldn’t buy any beachfront property though.
In some good science news, more proof that laughter is the best medicine. A study showed that people who laughed easily and often had a 31% better survival rate that the sourpusses among us. No real surprise, laughter is very relaxing, and people that laugh a lot are going to be less stressed that people who don’t. So in the interests of the health of my readers, I will end with a Pope joke I thought was funny. No disrespect is meant towards Catholics, the Pope, or anyone. I just like humour that shows we are all human under our skin, or under our funny hats as the case may be:
A priest decides to take a walk to the pier near his church. He looks around and finally stops to watch a fisherman load his boat. The fisherman notices, and asks the priest if he would like to join him for a couple of hours. The priest agrees.The fisherman asks if the priest has ever fished before to which the priest says no. He baits the hook for him and says, “Give it a shot father”. After a few minutes, the priest hooks a big fish and struggles to get it in the boat. The fisherman says “Whoa, what a big son-of-a-bitch!”
The Priest says, “Uh, please sir, can you mind your language?” The Fisherman responds (THINKING QUICKLY), “I’m sorry Father, but that’s what this fish is called – a son-of-a-bitch!”
“Oh, I’m sorry”, replied the Priest. “I didn’t know.” After the trip, the priest brings the fish to the church and spots the Bishop. “Eminence, look at this big son-of-a-bitch!”
“Please Father”, said the Bishop. “Mind your language, this is a house of God.”
“No, you don’t understand”, said the Priest. “That’s what this fish is called, and I caught it. I caught this son-of-a-bitch!”
“Hmmm”, said the Bishop. “You know, I could clean this son-of-a-bitch and we could have it for dinner.” So the Bishop takes the fish and cleans it, and brings it to Mother Superior at the convent. “Mother Superior could you cook this son-of-a-bitch for dinner tonight?”
“My lord, what language!”, said the Mother Superior.
“No, Sister”, said the Bishop. “That’s what the fish is called – a son-of-a-bitch! Father caught it, I cleaned it, and we’d like you to cook it.”
“Hmmm”, replied Mother Superior. “Yes, I’ll cook that son-of-a-bitch tonight.” Well, the Pope stops by for dinner with the three of them, and they all think the fish is great. He asks where they got it. “I caught the son-of-a-bitch!”, said the Priest.
“And I cleaned the son-of-a-bitch!”, said the Bishop.
“And I cooked the son-of-a-bitch!”, said the Mother Superior.
The Pope stares at them for a minute with a steely gaze, but then takes off his hat, puts his feet up on the table, and says, “You know, you fuckers are alright”.
God Bless Everyone.