Friday’s science round up: dieting cats, legless lizards, and so much more
This is not science.
I got diet cat food for my cats. It was on sale and my cats have reached that stage in their life where describing them as “chunky” is being generous. I should have wondered how it works, but I’m not at my best in grocery stores. I use the male method of shopping, in and out of the store in under a minute. Doesn’t leave a lot of time for cogitating in the aisles. Now I know how diet cat food works. The stuff apparently tastes so ghastly that the cats won’t eat it, so substantial weight loss began immediately. The constant complaints however are driving me nuts, I’ll likely get some regular cat food and mix them together.
In science news, there’s a video of the “Loch Ness Monster” making the rounds, even going so far as to make the major news outlets. It’s a great video, but alas it’s not a video of Nessie. It’s a video of an unusual wave created where the wakes of two or more boats intersected. Since it takes unusual conditions to get a wave that looks like this, and people are primed to see a monster swimming in the lake, that’s what they see. This sort of wave intersection happens most easily in a long narrow body of water where the wakes from boats can reflect off of nearby shorelines. Note the shape of Loch Ness in this map: Loch Ness Map. When someone gets close up shots of Nessie, I’ll change my mind. I’m not going to hold my breath though, the whole Nessie legend is absurd beyond belief. I mean, Dear God, scientists get photos of incredibly elusive animals all over the world, yet no one can get close to a giant animal living in a tiny lake?
In another much more troubling example of people letting their beliefs dictate what they see, the Creation Museum has opened in Kentucky. Sigh. As if Americans weren’t already ignorant enough about science. The museum purports to “prove” that the earth is only a few thousand years old, and that evolution is a myth. It’s easy to prove something like this, it’s a time honoured method. You start with your conclusion…and then search for facts which support it. Science works the other way round, but the scientific method isn’t terribly popular because it requires looking at all of the facts, and it occasionally requires reaching conclusions which contradict your beliefs. The extremely devout Christian scientists of the late eighteenth century reluctantly concluded that the evidence was overwhelming that the Earth was at the very least millions of years old. All I can say is that if the people who created this museum have such disdain for science’s conclusions, why did they need to dress up their beliefs in scientific garb? Scientists don’t build churches to tout their world views, they lets the facts and logic speak for themselves. And no, I’m not claiming that science is always right. It’s religious extremists who claim to be infallible, not scientists.
While we are on the subject of evolution, (nice segue, eh?) a new theory proposes that human ancestors learnt to walk upright before they left the trees. This is opposed to the current theory that says humans went through a “knuckle walking” stage as evidenced in chimpanzees and gorillas. It’s a perfectly sensible theory, and is consistent with the fossil evidence, so it’s not earth shaking. It will take awhile to settle in though, the idea that our ancestors cavorted around on their knuckles is pretty well embedded in folklore.
Lastly, science has discovered a new species of legless lizard. It apparently wasn’t too hard to discover, it was just laying there. Normally with new discoveries I make some comment about how this will lead to more research, but in this case, not really. There’s not much to study. It doesn’t do much except except lay around. It eats whatever bugs wander by. How animals like this remains unextinct is a mystery, that’s probably good for some research. (And yes, I’m joking, a legless lizard is just like a snake for all practical purposes.)
Have a great weekend everyone. If anyone visits the Museum above I’d love some pictures to post.
(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It is not being used for profit and is central to illustrating the post.)