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Archive for the ‘Future’ Category

Are spring flowers and blossoms in on The Big Lie… The Global Warming Hoax?

Could very well be, according to a ScienceDaily.com article entitled…

In the Eastern U.S., Spring Flowers Keep Pace With Warming Climate, Blooming Up to a Month Earlier

The article begins, “Using the meticulous phenological records of two iconic American naturalists, Henry David Thoreau and Aldo Leopold, scientists have demonstrated that native plants in the eastern United States are flowering as much as a month earlier in response to a warming climate.

The new study is important because it gives scientists a peek inside the black box of ecological change. The work may also help predict effects on important agricultural crops, which depend on flowering to produce fruit.

In 2012, the warmest spring on record for Wisconsin, plants bloomed on average nearly a month earlier than they did just 67 years earlier when Leopold made his last entry.

blossoms

The sun sets behind a bouquet of blooms on a crabapple tree at the University of Wisconsin Arboretum in spring, 2010. In a new study, scientists have demonstrated that native plants in the eastern United States are flowering as much as a month earlier in response to a warming climate. (Image: Jeff Miller)

Well, there you have it, kids. It seems like the local flora has jumped on the global warming bandwagon!

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Journal Reference:

  • Elizabeth R. Ellwood, Stanley A. Temple, Richard B. Primack, Nina L. Bradley, Charles C. Davis. Record-Breaking Early Flowering in the Eastern United States.PLoS ONE, 2013; 8 (1): e53788 DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0053788
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Do you ever get the impression that there are people out there who just can’t wait for the world to go to hell in a handcart?

Whether it is a complete socio-economic meltdown, a total financial collapse, a global political conflagration or a good old-fashioned 3rd World War… do you get the feeling that there are those who will secretly say, “Yes! I was hoping for this!”

When I look at the Doomsday types… religious or otherwise… I can’t help but think that despite their dire warnings, deep down, they’re dying for the end to be near.

As you all probably know, I personally believe that if there is going to be a non-biblical end to Civilization As We Know It, it will be in the form of either a Zombie Apocalypse, a Robot Uprising or a Space Alien Invasion. All excellent and probable scenarios, of course.

(No matter how you slice it, it’s not so good for us)

But, believe it or not, there are others who feel that the world will experience The Big Collapse in other ways. Nuclear War is a popular one. A 99.9% effective disease ranks high in many people’s minds.

However we get there, I am sure a good many people will agree that what remains of mankind ends up eating stray dogs and fighting for the bones. Not an attractive idea but… as I said… I believe there are a good portion of people to whom this Mad Max dream world is heaven on earth.

I think these poor saps have a kind of Hollywood-induced image that makes post-civilized life somewhat bleakly romantic in a kind of modern Dark Ages way.

I’m not sure what you guys think, but from what I know about Europe between the Fall of Rome and early medieval times, I wouldn’t wish that life on my worst enemy. OK, maybe my worst enemy but that’s about it.

I see no romance in a life of grinding poverty, cruelty, ignorance and pestilence interrupted occasionally by the odd barbarian horde pillaging and raping everything in sight. And if you think you’ve witnessed religious fundamentalists in our day, trust me… you ain’t seen nothing compared to the way things were 1500 years ago.

And its not like you could ignore a disruption of that kind.

The only people I can imagine not noticing all that much that the world has fallen apart are those whose situation is already so bleak and desperate, it couldn’t get worse. People living out in the African, Australian, Southeast Asian or South American jungles or hinterlands with no contact with society already. If things headed south for the rest of us, how would they know… or even care?

Nope. Things going down the toilet is all well and good when we’re discussing The Upcoming Zombie Apocalypse and while it is a good idea to have a good survival plan in place in case of some natural disaster or toxic spill or the like, I don’t lay awake at night hoping and praying that things hit the fan on that massive a scale.

I’ll leave that to the survivalists in North Dakota or Montana or wherever the heck they hang out.

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In the beginning, the universe was a single point. But where was that point exactly? What was its location?

As explained in an article in the FYI section of PopSci.com, it was, and still is… everywhere.

In other words, no matter where you are in the universe, you’re at the centre! [1]

It’s answers like these that make my head explode.

I remember when Exhibit Two tried to help me grasp the concept that the universe has no centre. I developed a somewhat similar headache when trying to wrap my kosher samurai brain around the concept while reading the PopSci.com article.

“First, it’s important to know that the big bang wasn’t an explosion of matter into empty space—it was the rapid expansion of space itself. This means that every single point in the universe appears to be at the center. Think of the universe as an empty balloon with dots on it. Those dots represent clusters of galaxies. As the balloon inflates, every dot moves farther away from every other dot. The space between clusters of galaxies expands, like the rest of the universe, at an accelerating rate. (Gravity keeps the clusters themselves the same size.)”

Edwin Hubble first observed this phenomenon in 1929, when he noticed that the light from distant galaxies shifted to the red end of the spectrum, as though it had been stretched as it traveled through space. By measuring the wavelengths of the light, Hubble observed that galaxies were expanding away from each other at a rate proportional to their distance from one another.

In the beginning, the universe was a single point. Where was that? It was, and still is, everywhere. Scientists even have proof: Light from the big bang, in the form of cosmic radiation, fills the sky in every direction.

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[1] I will have to modify my remarks to my then 14-year-old daughter, Exhibit One, that she was not the centre of the universe and that we now have the Hubble Space Telescope photos to prove it!

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On April 24, 1990, the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope was launched into space. In the 22 years since, it has sent back over a million observations.

Here are just some of Hubble’s greatest images, year by year, courtesy of those wonderful space geeks at HubbleCast.

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Articles about ASTRONOMY: http://www.scoop.it/t/science-news?tag=astronomy

(Speaking of milestones, my friendly neighbourhood blog service, WordPress, informs me that this is my 150th posted blog article. Thanks to those who read my musings and thanks to my friends, associates, colleagues, relatives and loved ones as well as the occasional innocent bystanders who constantly provide me with material!)

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Dust devils occur on Earth as well as on Mars. They are spinning columns of air, made visible by the dust they pull off the ground.

Unlike a tornado, a dust devil typically forms on a clear day when the ground is heated by the sun, warming the air just above the ground. As heated air near the surface rises quickly through a small pocket of cooler air above it, the air may begin to rotate, if conditions are just right.

For more articles about astronomy, visit Scoop.it | Science News.

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I don’t normally publish blog articles on Tuesdays (or Thursdays) but I saw this last night and couldn’t resist!

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New York Times has recently published a series of five short articles under the heading Are People Getting Dumber?, as part of their Room for Debate section.

Now, it’s all very stylish and fun for bloggerheads like myself to beak off about stupid people but I urge you to take the time and go through these pieces to get thoughtful takes on the very serious question of the alleged Dumbing of America.

I promise you, it will be worth your while.

They are as follows…

Thinking in More Sophisticated Ways

JAMES R. FLYNN, AUTHOR, “WHAT IS INTELLIGENCE?”

“Far from devolving, modern humans are getting smarter about applying logic to hypothetical situations.”

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To See Humans’ Progress, Zoom Out

STEVEN PINKER, AUTHOR, “THE BETTER ANGELS OF OUR NATURE”

“It’s easy to focus on the idiocies of the present and forget those of the past. A reality check shows we are improving.”

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Smart Moments Don’t Go Viral

RITCH DUNCAN, STAFF WRITER, DUMB AS A BLOG

“Online, the really dumb things that people do — even people of average intelligence — get amplified almost instantaneously.”

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Stupidity Is Funny, but It’s No Joke

ERIN JACKSON, STAND-UP COMIC

“Without dumb people doing dumb things, I wouldn’t have anything to riff about. I’d love to have that problem.”

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The World Grows More Complex

LINDA S. GOTTFREDSON, SOCIOLOGIST, UNIVERSITY OF DELAWARE

“Modern innovations make us feel dumber, because they add to the work our minds must do.”

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Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson [1] is America’s nattiest nerd, its chicest geek!

He’s a sharp-looking scientist. A trendy twerp. He looks great. He is handsome and well-spoken, funny, witty and charming.

And he’s smart. Sweet Lord in heaven, is he ever smart!

(America’s most dapper dweeb!)

He’s the kind of smart that takes very complicated super-brainy stuff and breaks it down into simple bite-sized easy-to-digest pieces that the rest of us plebes can handle. And he make it fun in the process.

And because of that, you remember what he says just as much as how he says it.

He can talk to us in our language without making it sound like he is talking down to us.

He makes science fashionable and fun. His enthusiasm is infectious. You get interested in astrophysics because he is just so darned excited about the whole subject.

Tyson doesn’t intimidate you with his intellect. He beguiles you with his boyish charm.

And that is why we so desperately need him.

At a time when certain segments of society deny science and pooh-pooh basic theories, when ‘Truthiness’ trumps Truth and when Reality is accused of having a well-known liberal bias, we need him more than ever.

The world is a better, richer place because of Neil deGrasse Tyson.

It is a place where curiosity, literacy, education,  intellect and expertise are not dirty words.

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[1] Neil deGrasse Tyson (born October 5, 1958) is an American astrophysicist and science communicator. He is currently the Frederick P. Rose Director of the Hayden Planetarium at the Rose Center for Earth and Space, and a Research Associate in the Department of Astrophysics at the American Museum of Natural History.

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