Tag Archives: science

Mother Nature don’t care

A really cool picture from 2009 resurfaced on Reddit today.

Image credit: NASA/ISS/Expedition 20 Crew, Scientific American

Pictures such as this one remind me of two things:

1. The world – nay, the entire universe – doesn’t care a wit for our species. It doesn’t owe us happiness or security or meaning. It just is, and we owe it respect in that regard.

2. In its infinite hostility, the world provides us daily with beauty that surpasses our imaginations. Science sheds light on that beauty. Knowledge isn’t just power; knowledge is elegance.

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TIL Tuesday: Saturn is One Coollike Planet

Instead of explaining what I learned today myself, I’m going to let Charlie McDonnell – creator of the Fun Science series on his YouTube channel, charlieissocoollike – do the talking.

This video alone taught me more about Saturn than I ever learned in high school. Plus, Charlie’s got a ton of other engaging videos about science.

P.S. The content of the above video was approved by Phil Plait (the Bad Astronomer), so I highly trust its accuracy.

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The First Step in Fixing a Problem is Admitting You Have One

Image credit: Phil Plait

It seems that some Americans – at least a majority of those living in New York – have finally come to terms with reality. In an article published yesterday in the New York Times, a poll found that the majority of New Yorkers (69 percent) attribute Hurricane Sandy to global warming.

Unfortunately, a sample taken from New York City is not representative of the whole country. In a 2012 Gallup Poll, only 52 percent of Americans said they believed that the effects of global warming were already taking place, and 53 percent believed that global warming is the result of human activity.

These opinions stand in the face of the truth – the truth that the globe is warming, and that we are responsible. James Lawrence Powell, author of The Inquisition of Climate Science, recently found that of 13,950 peer-reviewed articles about climate change, only 24 reject global warming. This isn’t some conspiracy theory, nor is it a case of everyone but a select minority being blind to the truth – it’s scientific fact, and it’s time we faced those facts.

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TIL Tuesday: Carnivorous Veggies

I’d like to introduce this blog with something I plan to do every week: TIL (Today I Learned) Tuesday. As I’ve said, I want this blog to be as much about me exploring and learning as it is about me publishing  my own opinions and findings. With that in mind, I’ve decided to include in these posts a weekly theme promoting the exploration of science, nature and the universe. This week, I learned some fun things about carnivorous plants.

I’ve been thinking about Venus Flytraps (Dionaea muscipula) all day, and I don’t know why. (OK, that’s a lie – I saw one in a commercial, and though I can’t remember what was being advertised, I distinctly remember a Flytrap eating a frog.) When I was a kid, I desperately wanted one, and my parents actually got me one in elementary school. I, being a careless little boy, managed to kill it either by over-feeding or neglect (one can’t be sure).

Aldrovanda

Aldrovanda
Photo credit: Monika, Odd Stuff Magazine

Little did I know that the Flytrap has a deceased (read: extinct) cousin – who operated completely underwater! The Aldrovanda (Aldrovanda vesiculosa) had the same predatory, clamp-like heads that capture its prey, but they were able to feed on victims through the currents. Its traps closed incredibly fast (.01 to .5 seconds); a fact even more incredible when you consider that the plant had to push through water (much more dense than air). The plant floated freely, and used sensors similar to that of the Flytrap to trigger its snapping.

The history of the Aldrovanda’s name is also quite amusing. When Carl Linnaeus, the father of modern taxonomy, named the plant after Italian naturalist Ulisse Aldrovandi, he misspelled Ulisse’s last name, but the nomenclature of the plant stuck. Charles Darwin, who helped us to understand that the plant was carnivorous, nicknamed the plant “the miniature aquatic Dionaea,” thus assimilating it with the Flytrap, and bringing this blog post full-circle.

What a fun bath-time toy that would have made…

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