Daily Archives: April 7, 2008

Did sexist white males cause the extinction of the woolly mammoth, or was it climate change?

i-df0d572725cb6610419e63e698f12a2f-mammoth.jpgEver since 3,599 years ago humans have been asking the question “Why did our furry elephant go extinct?”What caused the woolly mammoth’s (not to be confused with the also-woolly mastodon) extinction? Climate warming in the Holocene might have driven the extinction of this cold-adapted species, yet the species had survived previous warming periods, suggesting that the more-plausible cause was human expansion.The woolly mammoth went extinct less than four thousand years ago. The bones of miniaturized woolly mammoths have been found in Siberia dating to about 3,600 years ago. Indeed, woolly mammoths, the furry elephant of the north, was around recently enough that it overlaps with the invention of writing by humans, and is depicted in a drawing on the wall of at least one example of a dynastic Egyptian building, along with a number of other unusual (for Egypt) but perfectly real animals. Continue reading Did sexist white males cause the extinction of the woolly mammoth, or was it climate change?

Creationist Pop Up Book

Oh, no, wait, I read that wrong……. “Creationist Book Pops Up …. In Scotland…”

Remember Harun Yahya’s Atlas of Creation, the lavishly illustrated Islamic creationist book that first turned up in Turkey, then France and other European countries and prompted a disapproving resolution by the Council of Europe? It’s now being mailed to universities in ScotlandThe mysterious Istanbul writer Harun Yahya (actually Adnan Oktar) is clearly spending large amounts of money sending this unwelcome book around Europe. Where does he get it from?[source]

Continue reading Creationist Pop Up Book

Solar System Doppleganger Located


Astronomers have discovered a planetary system orbiting a distant star which looks much like our own.They found two planets that were close matches for Jupiter and Saturn orbiting a star about half the size of our Sun.Martin Dominik, from St Andrews University in the UK, said the finding suggested systems like our own could be much more common than we thought.

story here

Stephen Hawking: Asking big questions about the universe


In keeping with the theme of TED2008, professor Stephen Hawking asks some Big Questions about our universe — How did the universe begin? How did life begin? Are we alone? — and discusses how we might go about answering them.Stephen Hawking’s scientific investigations have shed light on the origins of the cosmos, the nature of time and the ultimate fate of universe. His bestselling books for a general audience have given an appreciation of physics to millions.

Continue reading Stephen Hawking: Asking big questions about the universe

The Meaning of Life

I have a theory that cinema and other forms of fiction often arise not from pure creativity, but from prescience. It is not the case, when this happens, that “life imitates art” but rather, that art predicts life. It is only a matter of figuring out which so-called ‘creative’ manifestations are predictive of reality in order to understand the deep secrets of nature.After much analysis, the details of which I shall provide later, I have been able to determine that The Force … yes, I’m talking about The Force as in Star Wars, is real, and is the determining element for evolution and for life itself. Details below the fold. Continue reading The Meaning of Life

Google Earth and Your Privacy

One of my students mentioned the other day that she was mortified when she found her house in Northeast Minneapolis on Google Earth. Just for fun, she was flying around on Google Earth and decided to stop in and see her own crib. It turns out that the local photograph of her home on Google Earth had been taken in the latter, very messy, phase of a giant yard sale. So her house looks like total trash. “Who cares?” you might ask? Well, anyone who might like to put their home on the market, for instance.Well, it turns out that a Pittsburgh couple is suing Google for “mental suffering” and invasion of their privacy: Continue reading Google Earth and Your Privacy

Should you feed the birds?

i-6c5b9bdd287a370ee994d4ebcc675c9b-birdfeed.jpgIt is a little ironic that all nature enthusiasts know that it is “bad” to feed the animals … they become dependent on the food, and in some cases will become a nuisance or dangerous, prying open cars or breaking into homes to get more food. Then the animal has to be put down or moved to a new habitat. But that sort of bad outcome is more common with, say, bears than it is with, say, chickadees. The irony here is that bird lovers, who are always nature enthusiasts, do not seem to balk at setting up bird feeders. In fact, approximately on half a million metric tons of seed is put out for the birds in the United States and the United Kingdom.This must have an effect on the birds, for better or worse. Two studies just published by the same research team address this issue. Continue reading Should you feed the birds?