Archive for the ‘Worth Repeating’ Category
I don’t know who VideoFun09 is, but I can’t wait for more of this:
Photo Credit AP.
Titanoboa was 13m (42ft) long – about the length of a bus – and lived in the rainforest of north-east Colombia 58-60 million years ago.
The snake was so wide it would have reached up to a person’s hips, say researchers, who have estimated that it weighed more than a tonne.
Green anacondas – the world’s heaviest snakes – reach a mere 250kg (550lbs).
Reticulated pythons – the world’s longest snakes – can reach up to 10m (32ft).
A fossil animal locked in Lebanese limestone has been shown to be an extremely precious discovery – a snake with two legs.
Scientists have only a handful of specimens that illustrate the evolutionary narrative that goes from ancient lizard to limbless modern serpent.
A portion of the vertebral column is missing; and in the process of preservation, the “tail” has become detached and positioned near the head.
But it is the unmistakable leg bones – fibula, tibia and femur – that catch the eye. The stumpy hind-limb is only 2cm (0.8in) long, and was presumably utterly useless to the animal in life.
“We can even see ankle bones,” … resident palaeontologist Paul Tafforeau said.
The abnormal animal, belonging to a group of aquatic reptiles, was unearthed in northeastern China and dates to the time of the dinosaurs.
The animal’s spinal column divided in two at the point where the neck emerges from the body. This formed two long necks that ended in two skulls.
Let’s play a game. Try to wrap your mind around this news brief from the BBC:
Number of alien worlds quantified
Intelligent civilisations are out there and there could be thousands of them, according to an Edinburgh scientist.
The discovery of more than 330 planets outside our solar system in recent years has helped refine the number of life forms that are likely to exist.
The current research estimates that there are at least 361 intelligent civilisations in our Galaxy and possibly as many as 38,000.
The work is reported in the International Journal of Astrobiology.
As the full article reports, this research is based on some creative mathematics and not a little guesswork. Still, the Milky Way Galaxy in which we live, is estimated to be 100,000 light years in diameter (587,460,168,233,670,000.00 Miles). That’s pretty big, so I take the given calculation (“at least 361″) to be correct.
361 other species/cultures/societies/planets that are either near-to, equal-to, or exceeding human capacity in all areas. Intelligence, stupidity, strength, caring, malice, technology, art, wisdom; an endless list of qualities.
How do you suppose we measure up? Not well, likely. Here’s two other science articles released the same day as the one above:
We’re each born stupid; many do not improve much after birth. Our biological deck is stacked against us in so many ways. Don’t believe me? Check this list of cognitive biases, it might be easier to count the number you haven’t honestly fallen prey to.
When someone you know is behaving embarrassingly, you can pretend you don’t know who they are (“…yeah, I know, what a jerk. I think he’s drunk…”). But what happens when “aliens” actually make contact with us? Then it’s a species thing.
Well none of this has stopped us from counting the stars, and dreaming of distant planets and their potential inhabitants. Humans have a rich history (& future to come) of thinking big – here’s hoping we don’t all kill each other before the enlightenment.
If you really want to test the limits of your imagination, go for a grand tour of mind expanding thought on wikipedia. Here’s some suggested reading:
- Climate engineering
- Dyson sphere
- Planetary engineering
- Banaue Rice Terraces
- Stellar engine
- Alderson disk
- Spacecraft engineering
- Virgin_Earth Challenge
- Star lifting
- Hollow earth
- Stellar engineering
- Lagrange point
- Trans Global Highway
- X-Seed 4000
- Kardashev scale
- Fog bow
- Sun dog
- Flat Earth Society
- Turtles all the way down
- Carl Sagan
- Vertical farming
- Expanding Earth theory
- Spaceship Moon Theory
- Outer Space Treaty
- Weather control
- Autonomous building
- Artificial world
- Asteroid deflection strategies
- Asteroid mining
- Stanford torus
The following is a story I read in a book of zen many years ago, but came to mind unexpectedly this morning.
Short zen parables can be quite unusual and they are often wildly entertaining, in part because they are supposed to have a moral to the story, though it is usually impossible for a western mind to deduce what the lesson is.
(Disclaimer, this paraphrased tale is estimated, debased & devolved by a few years in my brain)