Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Canon EOS 1D Mark II news: 8.2 MP, 8.5 Frames per second, only $6270.58 at today's GBP/USD exchange rate.

...eyes glazed over...

...lower lip leaking drool down shirt...

...must close browser...

Friday, April 16, 2004

From Dr. John Ellison Associate Professor, DLIS, Quotes home page:

"An intellectual is someone whose mind watches itself."

Albert Camus - Notebooks 1935-1942

One of those f*cking days...

Procrastination has become less of a problem for me as I've gotten older and more used to doing now, what shouldn't be put off until tomorrow, but it's still something I have to be conscious of nearly every day.

A prime example of this are my taxes: I had all the materials to complete them ages ago but I put it off thinking that I'd just do it "later" since I thought I'd owe. However, when I finally did my taxes on Monday and Tuesday, I learned that in fact, I would be getting a refund. This, thanks to my not making hardly any money last year and remaining in my "holding pattern."

Shocked at my good fortune, I tried e-filing. That didn't go so well, and because I know that people expecting a refund have until October to file, I still have my completed and ready-to-mail tax forms in my backpack...which is locked in my truck...outside my building here at work...with my truck keys...and probably my security badge...unless that's at home...shit. It's just one of those f*cking days.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

News :: Mars Rovers Get Software Upgrades

I love these little guys. I think the JPL scientists must have watched lots and lots of Star Trek when they were young, however, because they promised a rover that would last 90 days but now they're going to extend the mission through September!

"Captain, these repairs will take two weeks to complete, but I'll see what I can give you in the next ten minutes."

Don't you think that's how these guys have to be operating!?! The only downside is that they spent billions getting the things up there for 90 days, not the government is getting a STEAL, with 150 more days of research from both rovers, for mere $Millions. I have to hand it to JPL - they know how to work a project! My question is, how many of the tools on Rover were added with dual purposes - one for the first 90 days, and the next for the final 150. What an amazing project. NASA has to be thinking that everything from here on out is "free," considering what they shelled out for the first 90 days. It's like going to a restaurant and paying an arm and a leg for dinner and drinks, only to find that if you still have room for dessert, the restaurant has the best Creme Brule and Coffee in the world, for mere "pennies."

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Greenland's Icecap's Melting Could Cause the World's Sea Levels to Rise by 7 Meters!

This is a fascinating article if you're engaged by climatology.

Jonathan Gregory, a climatologist at the University of Reading, UK, says global warming could start runaway melting on Greenland within 50 years, and it will "probably be irreversible this side of a new ice age". The only good news is that it a total meltdown is likely to take at least 1000 years.

Friday, April 02, 2004

In looking at plate tectonics articles this morning, I came across a website called The Institute for Creation Research. Oddly enough, I learned that my former high school science teacher is a member. I found no publications on the site written by him, but it's interesting to note.

What I did find was an interesting article on Sea Dragons written by one, Mace Baker. Baker is the author of the book, The Real History of Dinosaurs (2001), and has a website at www.dinosaursandcreation.com. In this article, Baker asserts that many ocean-dwelling dinosaurs lived into the 19th century. I can't dispute this. It's certainly possible. However, Baker does assert that the fossil record is wrong and that these dinosaur skeletons are merely 6500 years old (the approximate date creationists give for the Creation, is about 4500 BCE). But I have to ask how, in that 6500 years, did all these dinosaur bones turn to fossils? And how is it that we have petrified wood in the middle of the desert that hasn't been lush and green...ever in the past hundred thousand years? One does wonder how this pseudo-science would do without the faith of its practitioners.

Strong-arm tactics drove creatures from the pond: Fossil find shows our underwater ancestors could do press-ups.

This is a very interesting find. I think I had heard that much of this archaeology was being done in the US, but I'm not too sure. Fact is, if this was happening in the Devonian era in modern Pennsylvania, similar change was likely happening in similar species in other places at around the same time.

If I just do a simple search for the word "Devonian," and add the word "evolution" to the abstract search field in the database for the journal Nature, I come up with lots of interesting "developments" during the early, middle, and late Devonian period (408-360 million years ago) of the Paleozoic Era (spanning 570-245 million years ago). Things like a the emergence of a uniquely specialized ear in a very early tetrapod, early limbs in that same tetrapod genus (From Natl. Geographic, and other developments in other creatures like fish.

It's staggering to think though, that this research is comparing evolution occurring in a span of 48 million years. What I mean by that is the developments in these tetrapods - that they developed limbs under water but didn't live on land - occurred at the beginning of the Devonian period. Then, in the late Devonian, we finally see evidence of fossil tracks on land in dry stream beds. That means it may have taken 48 million years for the accompanying evolution to take place that would have enabled these tetrapods to leave the water and live on land. And think, this was a time when the oxygen in the atmosphere was at far greater levels than it is today.

It puts into perspective the evolutionary chain and the relative youth of the human species. In the interim 360 million years between these first tetrapods walking onto land, we're still walking on land - we aren't telepathic, and we barely have computers. AND, we still kill each other over superficial differences. Staggering.