Category Archives: Science

Aiden: Future Zoologist

This young man’s name is Aiden. I don’t know anything else about him except the very little I was able to glean from Yotube and Go Fund Me. I just found the video on Youtube a few hours ago.

According to his Go  Fund Me page, his older sister is accepting contributions for his college fund. I cannot vouch for this. I have no  idea whether or not it is legitimate. For what it’s worth, here’s the text from there.

Aiden has a passion for animals and nature and dreams of being a zoologist in the future. I noticed all the support and love he’s getting from the video, so I decided to start a college fund for him early so that he can be set in the future and choose from whatever college he dreams of attending! This is a college fund for Aiden being raised by his older sister, donors are those he has inspired with his nature videos on YouTube and Twitter.

It mentions Miramar, Florida,  so I assume that’s where he lives.

Aiden’s knowledge of backyard wildlife is phenomenal, as well as his language skills and vocabulary and the ease with which he shows us the things most of us always missed in our own backyards.

He wants to be a zoologist. He might be the Richard Dawkins of his generation. In fact, now that I think of it. Dawkins says he wasn’t even unusually Interested in nature until he was in college, so this young man has a big head start on him.

With George Bush’s awesome sounding No Child Left Behind Program, we’ve spent so many resources trying to educate kids that will wear diapers all their lives and never learn to read–kids who perhaps should indeed have been left behind–that we have little left for  kids like Aiden. Our public school system can’t even begin to meet their educational needs. (And now our President and his Education Secretary want to gut the system instead of improving it. But that’s another story for another day.)

I hope, for the future of humanity, that Aiden is able to get the education he needs. It is young people like him who will build our tomorrows.

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Awsome Interpretation of Jupitor

Watch this on full screen with your speakers turned up.

“This animation by Seán Doran uses the stunning images recently sent back by the Juno probe. Nobody was expecting the degree of complexity in Jupiter’s multiple storm systems – it really is an extraordinary sight.”

The music is from 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Thanks to Why Evolution Is True for pointing out this awesome video.

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Suscribe Form

Readers,

I owe you all an apology. I didn’t realize until today there was no easily available subscription form on the blog. I’ve long wondered why the number of subscribers was so incredibly low. Now I know.

Frankly, I don’t have as many readers as I’d like to have. That’s understandable. After all, most people disagree with most of the things I say. But there are plenty of you that I would expect considerably more than four subscribers!

I’ve fixed the problem now, and I apologize for letting it go for so long. At the top of the sidebar on every page is now a sign-up form for a FREE subscription to this blog.

Just enter your email address and press the button, and I’ll send you a notice with a few paragraphs every time I make a post.

You’ll never miss a post again.

Similies

PHILOSOPHY is like being in a dark room and looking for a black cat.
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METAPHYSICS is like being in a dark room and looking for a black cat that isn’t there.
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THEOLOGY is like being in a dark room and looking for a black cat that isn’t there, and shouting, “ I found it!”
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SCIENCE is like being in a dark room and looking for a black cat that may or may not be there . . . using a flashlight.
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From the Internet
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And that’s no joke. Sorry.

Happy Birthday, Richard Dawkins

Richard Dawkins
Richard Dawkins

On this date in 1941, evolutionary biologist and freethought champion Richard Dawkins was born in Nairobi. His father had moved to Kenya from England during the Second World War to join the Allied Forces and the family returned to England in 1949.

Dawkins graduated from Oxford in 1962, earned his doctorate, became assistant professor of zoology at the University of California at Berkeley 1967-1969 and a fellow of New College in 1970.

The Selfish Gene, his first book, published in 1976, became an international bestseller. It and the award-winning Blind Watchmaker were translated into all major languages.

His other books include The Extended Phenotype (1982), River Out of Eden (1995), Climbing Mount Improbable (1996), Unweaving the Rainbow (1998) and A Devil’s Chaplain (2003). His 2006 iconoclastic book, The God Delusion, which he wrote with the public hope of turning believing readers into atheists, became a bestseller in both the UK and the U.S.

Dawkins has held the Charles Simonyi Chair of Public Understanding of Science since 1995, and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1997. He is married to actress and artist Lalla Ward, who has illustrated several of his books and other works.

Dawkins has advanced the concept of cultural inheritance or “memes,” also described as “viruses of the mind,” a category into which he places religious belief. He has also advanced the “replicator concept” of evolution.

A passionate atheist, Dawkins has coined the memorable term “faith-heads” to describe certain religionists. Since his remarks in The Guardian (Feb, 6, 1999): “I’m like a pit bull terrier being released into the ring, as a spectator sport, to attack religious people . . .,” Dawkins is now affectionately known as “Darwin’s pit bull.”

Dawkins, a vice president of the British Humanist Association, was named Humanist of the Year in 1999. He is the 1997 winner of the International Cosmos Prize, and received an Emperor Has No Clothes Award from the Freedom From Religion Foundation in 2001. His column for The Observer (“Children Must Choose Their own Beliefs,” Dec. 30, 2001) pointed out: “We deliberately set up, and massively subsidise, segregated faith schools (Note: In the UK, where he lives). As if it were not enough that we fasten belief-labels on babies at birth, those badges of mental apartheid are now reinforced and refreshed. In their separate schools, children are separately taught mutually incompatible beliefs.”

Following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, he eloquently warned in a Guardian column, “Religion’s Misguided Missiles” (Sept. 15, 2001): “To fill a world with religion, or religions of the Abrahamic kind, is like littering the streets with loaded guns. Do not be surprised if they are used.”

Photo by David Shinbone under CC 3.0

“My respect for the Abrahamic religions went up in the smoke and choking dust of September 11th. The last vestige of respect for the taboo disappeared as I watched the ‘Day of Prayer’ in Washington Cathedral, where people of mutually incompatible faiths united in homage to the very force that caused the problem in the first place: religion. It is time for people of intellect, as opposed to people of faith, to stand up and say ‘Enough!’ Let our tribute to the dead be a new resolve: to respect people for what they individually think, rather than respect groups for what they were collectively brought up to believe.

—-“Time to Stand Up,” written for the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Sept. 2001. See Dawkins’s Emperor Has No Clothes Award

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

– See more at: http://ffrf.org/news/day/26/03/freethought/#richard-dawkins

Be wary of this man.

blame I think this may be the guy I wrote about yesterday. Remember? The one who said, “God is watching over us” while eleven people died? Be wary of this man.

I just found this guy’s picture on Facebook and thought I ought to post it here, because you probably know him. If not, you almost certainly know somebody like him.

He’s conservative; he probably votes Republican, though he’ll tell you he’s politically independent; and he thinks the United States is a Christian nation, even though our Constitution never mentions Christ. He loves sinners–well, except maybe faggots and godless, atheistic secular humanists–and wants to save them from themselves and the world from them. He honors the presidency of the United States, but despises our President; and he loves our country so much he wants to tear up the Constitution and establish a theocracy. By force, if necessary.

He’ll tell you climate change is “the biggest fraud ever perpetrated against the American people,” even as we complete the hottest year in the history of climate studies. He’ll lie to your face and claim it’s not true that 13 of the 14 hottest years on record have been since the turn of this century and the other one was 1998. He’ll laugh about the possibility that sea level could rise enough to notice, even while small island nations prepare to be swallowed up by the waves.

He’ll say that “if you tell your kids they came from animals, they’ll act like animals.” Then he’ll claim we were all made out of dirt.

This man is a Fundamentalist. What makes him dangerous is not just that he’s so wrong about so many things, but that he’s absolutely certain he is right about them. Ask him what could potentially shake his faith in his beliefs and he’ll probably answer truthfully, “Absolutely nothing.” He is so certain, in fact, that he wants you to live your life according to the dictates of his conscience.

Saudi Arabia is ruled by men just as certain of their wrong ideas. Iran is ruled by men just as certain of their wrong ideas. North Korea is ruled by a man just as certain of his wrong ideas. America needs leaders who get their ideas and ideals from science and reason and compassion, and who understand they might be wrong about anything they believe and willing to learn better.

Be wary of this man. Be very wary of this man

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Here Come the Geminids

Geminids - Asteroidal debris rains down on Earth during the Geminid meteor shower 2014.

Geminids

Photographer Neil Zeller made this spectacular composite last year, northeast of Calgary, in Canada, capturing the Milky Way, several Geminids, and a beautiful green aurora on the horizon. All the meteors come from the same direction, because they’re part of the Gemini system. There could have been an occasional meteor not of this system and coming from a different direction, but not in this picture.

They come from the direction of the Gemini constellation (hence their name), and radiate away from that point in all directions. It’s a perspective effect, like driving through a tunnel and seeing the lights all come from the same spot ahead of you and streak past you on the sides.

The annual Geminid meteor shower lasts several days, but is only visible at night (barring something unusual and spectacular, of course.) Tonight, Sunday, December 13, and early tomorrow morning, the shower will be at its most intense.

A meteor shower happens when Earth moves through a trail of debris left behind by a comet, usually. The Geminids are the only known exception, being debris in the orbit of an asteroid. Asteroid 3200 Phaethon, to be specific.

In Phaethon’s long elliptical orbit around the sun (shown below), it almost falls into the sun from way out near Jupiter’s orbit. It scrapes past the sun far below the orbit of Mercury and gets so close to the sun that bits of it vaporize and blow pieces of rock off. Each little shard moves as fast as 40 kilometers/sec (or 86,000 mph). This is fast enough that, as a few of them scream through our atmosphere, they heat up instantly and glow. We see them as blazing streaks of light and call them “shooting stars.”

Orbit of the dead comet:asteroid 3200 Phaethon

This year will be exceptionally good, because the Moon will be new and won’t wash out the night sky. This will make fainter meteors easier to see.

Watching a meteor shower is pretty easy. Basically, all you have to do is go outside, look up, and be patient. Shooting stars are largely random, so you might not see any for a while. Then you’ll see several in a row. The important thing is to be patient. Any time after about 10 p.m. local time should be fine, but you’ll see the most after midnight. That’s when the Earth will be facing into the oncoming meteor stream.

Some general notes for viewing Geminids

  • It takes about 20 minutes for your eyes to get adapted to the dark; longer for an older person. So you may see few meteors right away. Or even none.
  • Make sure street lights are blocked and your house lights are off.
  • White light from a flashlight, street light, car, or window of a house will wipe out your night vision all over again for another 20 minutes. Be prepared with a flashlight with red cellophane covering the lens in case you need light. This will preserve your night vision. Or using a red flashlight app on your smartphone ought to work.
  • Avoid nearby buildings or trees that will block your view of the sky.
  • Make sure you’ll be warm and comfortable.
  • No telescope or binoculars needed. Just use your eyes.

About 1:00 a.m., Jupiter will rise in the east and provide an additional treat.

Slate’s “Bad Astronomer,” Phil Plait, says this:

Asteroids orbit the Sun for billions of years, and you’re seeing tiny parts of them—most no bigger than a grain of sand—as they slam into our atmosphere a hundred kilometers (60 miles) above you at speeds of up to 40 kilometers per second (86,000 mph). How cool is that?

He adds that the most important things to remember are your joy and wonder.

Joy and Wonder

These may be the best things to bring, and the easiest. Meteor showers are simply wonderful. It’s a cosmic show, and IT’S FREE, and it’s very, very cool.

I agree.


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Remembering Pearl Harbor

Remembering Pearl Harbor

Sneak Attack on Pearl Harbor: A Day of Infamy

It was seventy-four years ago today, December 7, 1941, at 7:48 a.m. Hawaiian Time. 353 Japanese fighter planes, bombers, and torpedo planes in two waves, launched from six aircraft carriers, attacked without warning. attacked the United States Navy at Pearl Harbor, damaging eight battleships and sinking four of them, and  killing 2,403 Americans and wounding 1,178.

They also sank or damaged three cruisers, three destroyers, an anti-aircraft training ship, one minelayer, and 188 American aircraft.

pearl harbor newspaper

Because the attack was a surprise and the Americans were completely unprepared, the Japanese Empire only lost 29 aircraft and five midget submarines; and 64 of them were killed. One Japanese sailor,Kazuo Sakamaki, was captured.

All American battleships but the Arizona were later raised, and six were returned to service and went on to fight in the war.

The attack on Pearl Harbor by the Empire of Japan on December 7, 1941 was the immediate cause of the United States’ entry into World War II.


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