Kage Baker just loved weird science-related facts. So let me take this opportunity to say Thanks! to all of you Dear Readers who sent me links to reports of the crater recently detected on Greenland.
Evidently something the size of Rhode Island hit there around 3 billion years ago. As Earth is only about 4.5 billion years old, Greenland was neither Greenland nor sitting where it is now when this happened. And about all this massive bolide could have killed were the more adventurous sorts of archaic bacteria. But as the oldest forms of life we have ever found are fossil bacteria from about 3.5 million years ago – well, the rock that hit proto-Greenland had to have had an effect on the evolution of life.
Because it must have been an ELE – Extinction Level Event. And most of what lived on Earth was probably promptly rendered surplus to present requirement. Who knows what might have evolved if some crucial population had survived, instead of our own bacterial ancestors? No end of fun, speculating …
There is nothing, nothing! as interesting as weird scientific “facts”!
I’ve set that in quotes because the truly entertaining stuff is often on the cutting edge of sanity. Or science. Or both. Other goodies arise when someone honestly finds something peculiar in nature or an experiment – these folks are usually actual scientists, who are reporting something so peculiar that their initial reports are met with skepticism. And then, as they say, hilarity ensues …
Before the Internet, all such revelations, opinions, and entertaining misinterpretations of observations (phlogiston does not really snuff candles or mice) were usually confined to scholarly journals. You might get hints if you subscribed to them, but the real gems were confined to minutes of various Societies’ meetings. Prior to that, in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, they were usually found in outraged letters to the Editor of the London Times, or in a walking stick fight breaking out in the august chambers of the Royal Society.
Science is a much more physically vigorous and rancorous field than most people imagine. That alone amused Kage.
One of her most favouritest examples ever was the Bone Wars between competing American paleontologists Cope and Marsh. Those guys were flat out nuts. They went so far, in many instances, as to dynamite fossil beds in the West so the other man couldn’t get any samples. Their dig crews went armed, and were recruited from local bully boys. Trains were diverted, maps faked, wagons raided – all to ensure that either Cope OR Marsh (never both!) got the best bones for their museums back East. And after all that, Marsh set up a brontosaurus with its head on the wrong end of its spine. For the better part of a century. As Kage chortled, “That really caps the joke!”
Right now, we are just in the full first flush of the Annual Silly Season, but things are picking up nicely. A giant UFO was reported crashing into the sea off Perth, Australia a few days ago. Or maybe it was a meteor. Or maybe it was a simple contrail lit by the sunset, but the only one pushing that theory is a mere astronomer.
In fact, a lot of UFO’s have been seen in the last month over Australia, Britain and Canada: all English-speaking countries. Coincidence? You decide … but, however obviously a pie plate, street light or star in the photos, the accompanying witnesses’ statement are hilarious in their certainty that a Mylar balloon is, in fact, a manned interstellar probe. And then there is always that one photo that makes one stare and say I don’t know …
There has also been an upsurge in sightings of buildings on the Moon and Mars. That’s always fun. It seems obvious to me that many of the folks who detect these in released Mars photos simply have little experience with the way rocks look in a desert – what says battlements or giant face to the Builder Faction says wind-eroded sandstone to me. But they do find the neatest-looking rocks, in their determined search for signs of government conspiracy and ancient gods; so it’s always productive to look at what sets the Builder devotees off.
The physicists at the CERN Super Collider say they have found the Higgs Boson! For certain sure this time, really. Probably. And they will announce it formally on Wednesday, unless some last minute tests fail. What makes this weird and wonderful is that we can make such progress towards actually laying eyes on a subatomic particle predicted by mathematics and the behaviour of other, larger particles. And that turning on CERN has not yet enveloped the Earth in a black hole, perhaps seeding a new Universe. And that some people actually believe it might …
Science finds so many weird things! The Internet is one humoungous game of telephone, where staid facts can be tarted up with all sorts of astonishing things. Even the Greenland Crater, recent as the news is, can’t escape oddities added through inattentive transmission. One of the reports sent to me this morning stated that when the Greenland crater was made, the Earth was only a third its present size. WTF? Or, my goodness gracious, can that be right? We’ve got bacterial fossils dating from this time, implying that the crust and mantle were nicely formed and water was present – which probably means the accretion stage of Earth’s formation was past.
Oh well. The idea of the Earth expanding like yeasty dough is kind of fun. That’s how the Hollow Earth was formed, doubtless.
In the meantime, Dear Readers, keep those articles coming! You never know what will spark an idea in one of us. Or herald our new tentacled Overlords. Either way, it will be fun.
As Summer ought to be.