Category Archives: science

97 hours of consensus

The science on global warming/climate change is a lot more certain than some people seem to think it is. 97% of climate scientists agree, and only around half of Americans do and a good portion of those don’t realize just how sure the science is.

That’s the reason for 97 hours of consensus; to make people aware of the scientific consensus on the subject, which is a good cause even if the mere fact of consensus isn’t the best argument in their favor.

Year by year, decade by decade, gradually over long periods of time, we see that the earth’s temperature is rising and we know from very careful scientific studies that have been done, that the majority of this warming is due to human production of heat-trapping gases.
Professor Katharine Hayhoe

 

See all the quotes so far here.

Dreadnoughtus: Gigantic, exceptionally complete sauropod dinosaur

And it has such an awesome name too.

After Big Bang

The new 65-ton (59,300 kg) dinosaur species Dreadnoughtus schrani is the largest land animal for which body mass can be accurately calculated. Its skeleton is the most complete ever found of its type, with over 70 percent of the bones, excluding the head, represented. Because all previously discovered supermassive dinosaurs are known from relatively fragmentary remains, Dreadnoughtus offers an unprecedented window into the anatomy and biomechanics of the largest animals to ever walk the Earth.

Illustration: Jennifer Hall Illustration: Jennifer Hall

Dreadnoughtus schrani was astoundingly huge,” said Kenneth Lacovara, PhD, an associate professor in Drexel University’s College of Arts and Sciences, who discovered the Dreadnoughtus fossil skeleton in southern Patagonia in Argentina and led the excavation and analysis. “It weighed as much as a dozen African elephants or more than seven T. rex. Shockingly, skeletal evidence shows that when this 65-ton specimen died, it was not yet full grown. It is by…

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Entirely new form of life discovered

Yes, it was originally found in 1986 and not examined until recently. Still, a new organism that doesn’t seem to belong to any known phylum was discovered near Tasmania.

It’s very small, shaped vaguely like a mushroom, and might not share a common ancestor with any known living creature in the last 500 million years.

“We think it belongs in the animal kingdom somewhere; the question is where.” – Jorgen Olesen

“The World of Chance” and crocoducks

Years ago I read a piece of fiction called “The World of Chance”; apparently what I read was just a part of a longer novel, and I don’t remember all the details of the part I did read, but the basic concept was that a man starts to wish there was no God after some tragedy that he blames God for, and he gets his wish. But the “world without god” described makes no sense…and I mean that literally. It is “the world of chance”, meaning it is a world where impossible things are just as likely to happen as anything else. (And the impossible things are, by chance, all bad in order to promote the author’s view that a world without God would be horrible. Though, also by chance, the world was not completely uninhabitable for humans despite the fact that the vast majority of potential worlds would be, so it actually, unintentionally demonstrated something completely different.) In other words, it is a world defined not by the lack of a deity, but by the lack of physical laws.

Continue reading “The World of Chance” and crocoducks

Pokebiology: words with too many meanings.

Okay, I love Pokemon, but one thing I’ve always wished that the series hadn’t done was use the word “evolution” to refer to something that’s, you know, not what that word normally means in other contexts. Jen McCreight has an excellent post on her blog that goes into more detail about evolution and metamorphosis in Pokemon.

What you normally think of when someone says “Pokemon evolution” is really metamorphosis. Which is kind of obvious, considering in most Pokemon games the first Pokemon that you see evolve will be a bug type whose evolution is based on metamorphosis in real insects, like a caterpillar/cocoon/butterfly. Other times, Pokemon based on animals that mature gradually will suddenly evolve instead, but then, Pokemon based on mammals come from eggs too, so it’s just a similar deviation from reality. Pokemon aren’t actually evolutionary (in the real-life biology sense) relatives of the real-life creatures they’re based on (which don’t seem to exist in the Pokemon world anyway), so that’s fine. Either way, it’s still often something like a lion cub becoming an adult lion.

Continue reading Pokebiology: words with too many meanings.