Perhaps I’m channeling Robert J. Schadewald, a former president of NCSE’s board of directors who was a scholar of flat-earthery, but I can’t seem to help myself. While I was reading through old newspapers looking for information about Wilbur Glenn Voliva, the flat-earther who hoped to be called to testify in the Scopes trial (see “Voliva!”), I stumbled across the following challenge in the Ogden Standard-Examiner of September 10, 1922, attributed to Voliva:
1—Why is it that stars are visible in broad daylight just by looking down a well?
2—Why is it that you see stars when you get a severe blow on the head?
3—If you were to dig a shaft straight down through the earth and you were to go down that shaft feet first, at what point during your descent would you have to turn end for end in order to come up in the antipodes right side up, and at what point would the blood rush to your head?
In which a neurobiologist reviews a popcorn flick and a new blog series is born.
In a recent post, I wrote about the establishment of a new Statistical Board of Reviewing Editors at Science magazine – a response, in part, to emerging concerns about poorly applied statistical methods in published research results. As I wrote, I believe that the establishment of a new research board is characteristic of how a healthy scientific community should react to signs of problems: no one benefits when insufficiently justified results are published.
As long as I have my copy of Christine Garwood’s excellent Flat Earth (2007) at hand, having retrieved it from the bookshelf to consult it for details about the flat-earther Wilbur Glenn Voliva, who hoped to be called to testify for the prosecution in the Scopes case (see “Voliva!”), I thought that I might take the opportunity to address a weighty question for flat-earthers: what keeps the ocean from cascading off the earth faster than it can be replaced by rain?
At the Creation Museum in Kentucky, a miniature diorama shows the last few people on Earth clinging to a craggy spit of rock as Noah’s Ark bobs mockingly in the distance. As if the situation of these last few sinners (soon to be swimmers) was not bad enough, there are tigers on the rocks attacking people. One can only imagine the anguished laments of these unfortunates, who if they kept their iPhones dry might have tweeted: “Really, dude? Were the tigers really necessary? #drowning.”
I’ll get back to misconception Monday posts next week, but when Genie Scott sent me this idea for a post, I couldn’t resist it. If you’ve been following the news, you may have seen reports that a potential Ebola therapy, cultured in tobacco plants, has been used on two Americans that contracted the disease. And chances are, you didn’t think much of the fact that the drug is coming from a plant, after all, we get drugs from plants all the time. But the treatment in question is not a naturally occurring plant compound, or even a modified plant compound—it’s a mammalian antibody. That’s right—tobacco plants are producing mammalian antibodies. Weird, right?
This past week on Fossil Friday, I gave you a fossil from our Fossil Fan, Dan Coleman. Dan told us that he wasn't quite sure what it was, but he had some thoughts. You all had a lot of great guesses too.
This week on Fossil Friday, I bring you a true fossil mystery from Fossil Friday Fan Dan Coleman! Dan tells me that he found this specimen on the Taylor Ridge I-75 road cut in Ringold, Georgia, and it dates from the late Ordovician to early Silurian.
Since the end of the last Ice Age some 14,000 years ago, the Earth's human population has risen from at best a few million to well over seven billion, with projections of 9.6 billion by 2050. It is no surprise, simply by our sheer numbers, that humans have become a force of nature. (Excerpt from Chapter 1 of Climate Smart & Energy Wise)