02 September 2011


It's Science Friday! 'Course, every day is science day in this corner of the virtual cosmos, so why is today special? Because it's Science Friday, of course. My thanks to researcher Sheril Kirshenbaum for the first two links, and to science writer Jennifer Ouellette for the second two links. Have fun.

Our first item of interest is a chart (see above, click on any image to enlarge) which shows the percentage of people in eight nations who understand that the statement "The continents have been moving their location for millions of years and will continue to move" is true. The hypothesis of continental drift was first proposed by Alfred Wegener in 1912 ~ 99 years ago. The mechanism is plate tectonics ~ denser regions of the earth's crust riding upon slow-motion currents of less dense molten magma, like ice floes on the ocean. Geologic, fossil, magnetic, and other evidence has long since vindicated Wegener's theory. So why, one wonders, are so many people ignorant of the facts? And why in particular should people in a relatively well-educated country like the U.S. be less well-informed than people in Japan, South Korea, or the European Union? One answer lies in the woeful state of the American public education system, especially as it pertains to science, math, and the arts. But that's a topic for another time.

Second up is a list stating two possible reasons for obtaining a PhD .... and eight possible reasons for not obtaining one. It all depends on your particular motivations. The list reads like humor, but the reasons are grounded in reality.

Thirdly, consider the confessions of a climate change convert ~ a conservative writer who (rather uncharacteristically for a conservative) changed his mind about anthropogenic climate change after seriously examining the evidence. D.R. Tucker shares the thought process that initially led him to reject the scientific verdict on climate (buying the arguments of non-scientists who only think in simplistic terms, and don't want to be challenged by facts), as well as the event which led him to reconsider his climage denialism. He summarizes thus ~

"The media pundits who claim global warming is a hoax don't have a damn clue about science, and they gear their shows, op-eds and blogs to people who are just as scientifically ignorant. I was one of those people. I thank God I'm no longer one. Climate denial is, if nothing else, a sign of the dumbing down of conservatism in the United States. Just as climate change threatens the physical environment, so too does climate denial threaten the cognitive environment. After all, what happens when one's intellectual shoreline has been eroded?" Are you listening, Republican leadership? Are you listening, America?

Finally, we come to Ten Things Everyone Should Know About Time. I'll briefly list the ten, and you can click on the link to learn more about each entry.

1. Time exists.

2. The past and the future are equally real.

3. Everyone experiences time differently.

4. You live in the past.

5. Your memory isn't as good as you think.

6. Consciousness depends on manipulating time.

7. Disorder increases as time passes.

8. Complexity comes and goes.

9. Aging can be reversed.

10. A lifespan is a billion heartbeats.

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