carl sagan on our need for skepticism every day

WE HAVE ARRANGED A SOCIETY based on sci­ence and tech­nology, in which no­body un­der­stands any­thing about sci­ence and tech­nology. And this com­bustable mix­ture of ig­no­rance and power, sooner or later, is gonna blow up in our faces.

If we are not able to ask skep­tical questions—to in­ter­ro­gate those who tell us that some­thing is true, to be skep­tical of those in authority—then we are up for grabs for the next charlatan—political or religious—who comes am­bling along. READ MORE

bone wars, rock-star scientists, and runaway egos

BoneWars movie

IT WAS THE BEST OF TIMES for dis­cov­ering new di­nosaur species—hundreds of them! Al­losaurus! Bron­tosaurus! Stegosaurus! Tricer­atops! Bloody rep­tiles with wings! Grate Grom­mett’s Balls of Fire, there were birds with teeth! What was next? What a heady, mar­velous time it must have been to be a sci­en­tist! Yet it was ar­guably the worst of times for es­tab­lishing re­spect for sci­en­tists and the rea­son­ably new fields of pa­le­on­tology and com­par­a­tive anatomy. READ MORE

not your typical african grey parrot

Timneh header3 copy

I MET THE GIRL OF MY DREAMS in the last month of the last year of the last cen­tury. I was 47 and Berni was, well, let’s say younger. People who know us now think we’re a per­fect match, a ‘nat­ural’ couple. But it wasn’t al­ways so—especially not in the be­gin­ning, when I was gaga over her but she was con­sid­er­ably less than gaga over me. READ MORE

“shazam” with a small “s” and no exclamation mark

CaptainMarvel 1500 1

FIRST THERE IS A MOUNTAIN then there is no moun­tain then there is. I had made this walk a hun­dred times be­fore today but today was ex­tra­or­di­nary, but then every day is ex­tra­or­di­nary.

So, I walked as I al­ways do and al­ways did.

So, I walked past the many tele­phone poles on 112th Av­enue NE. READ MORE

ornithomimus in dinosaur provincial park sounds trippy

ornithomimus 1500

LIKE MANY BOYS of my gen­er­a­tion, I went through a di­nosaur phase in the early 1960s when I was 10-12 years old. I was fas­ci­nated by these huge beasts and my par­ents in­dulged my in­terest by buying me most of the better books on the sub­ject. And there were also those few movies that had been made up till then that had some­thing ‘di­nosaurish’ about them. READ MORE

ken crawford and barnard 33

HorseNebula 800

IF YOU KNOW NOTHING about as­tronomy and galactic for­ma­tion and neb­ulae, you still prob­ably know about the Horse­head Nebula. The gor­geous image of that mass of dirt and de­bris above was taken by Ken Craw­ford in 2011. He took this photo from his back­yard ob­ser­va­tory in Rancho Del Sol Camino, the image taking twenty hours of ex­po­sure and seven dif­ferent fil­ters! READ MORE

nealism on a general theory of relativity

Einstein 1905

ONCE UPON A TIME, way back yonder in days of yore—in fact, so far back that all adages were still new, so the term old adage was not yet redundant—I often found my­self in­volved in con­ver­sa­tions where I wanted to ad­dress our gen­eral ig­no­rance and to let the other joe know that re­ally mean­ingful ap­pre­ci­a­tion of any­thing in­volved per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence and com­par­ison. READ MORE

new york to allow medical marijuana?

Marijuana plant tops 1500

ACCORDING TO THE FOLKS over there at CB­SNews, “New York would be­come the 21st state to allow med­ical use of mar­i­juana under an ini­tia­tive Gov. An­drew Cuomo will un­veil this week. Cuomo plans to use ad­min­is­tra­tive powers rather than leg­isla­tive ac­tion to allow a lim­ited number of hos­pi­tals to dis­pense mar­i­juana for cer­tain ail­ments. READ MORE