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Fake epoch.

If, in the final 7,000 years of their reign, dinosaurs became hyperintelligent, built a civilization, started asteroid mining, and did so for centuries before forgetting to carry the one on an orbital calculation, thereby sending that famous valedictory six-mile space rock hurtling senselessly toward the Earth themselves—it would be virtually impossible to tell. All we do know is that an asteroid did hit, and that the fossils in the millions of years afterward look very different than in the millions of years prior.

Peter Brannen on deep time.

Brannen is, of course, using this comparison to point out our own ridiculously brief period on this planet… and the difficulty we collectively have in remembering just how “brief” brief really is.

2019-10-08T13:32:09+11:0022nd January, 2020|Tags: culture, science|

Puppy dog eyes.

Tl;dr dogs evolved1 two extra muscles around their eyes so they could make facial expressions humans find cute. It’s also why, for example, Huskies Look Like That, because as an older breed they only have one set of the new muscles, meaning they can’t go the Full Pup.

  1. Or, likely more accurately, were bred to have. []
2019-07-17T11:10:56+10:0024th November, 2019|Tags: dogs, science|

No stakes.

The loudest and most powerful voices when it comes to the future of the planet — the ones with their hands on the levers of power — have a strong tactical advantage: they will be dead before the shit really hits the fan. This fact curiously goes unspoken, for the most part. Popular arguments tend to be framed around a rosy vision preserving the planet for future generations, which gives our boomer aristocracy the most effective cover story imaginable. They don’t need to care about that, as nice as it sounds. Why would they? It’s all completely hypothetical to them. You may as well be talking about climate patterns in Narnia. Make no mistake: older generations living in the developed world are part of history’s most under-appreciated death cult.

This isn’t abstract psychoanalysis. There is a brutal calculus going on in the minds of everyone from your skeptic uncle to the bankrollers of squillion dollar think tanks whenever they think or talk about climate change. They know that they will never have to really answer for their opinions on this matter, because they’ll be six feet under (and loving it!) when the world’s arable land is rendered infertile and its coastal cities flooded by rising oceans. In some dark and venal corner of their minds, they’re thinking about that fact all the damn time. Despite the frightening predictions of the new IPCC report, they’ve still got plenty of wiggle room to keep denying until they’re dead – which will be sooner rather than later. With any luck they’ll even avoid being held accountable in any concrete way, which for the conservative commentariat is an even worse fate than the Mad Max hellworld towards which we are hurtling.

J.R. Hennessy wants Boomers to shut up about climate change.

2019-06-04T07:33:35+10:0014th October, 2019|Tags: climate, culture, nature, science|

Crap in, crap out.

A look at the history, use, and misuse of the calorie.

TIL from this article:

  • Some people have small intestines that are up to 50% longer than others, which makes them 50% better at digesting food!
  • Cold toast has fewer (usable) calories than hot toast.
  • Coconut oil reduces the caloric content of rice.
  • Reheated pasta/rice/potatoes/bread have fewer calories than fresh pasta/rice/potatoes/bread.
  • The Chinese thing about not drinking cold water is actually kind of correct? Although for exactly the opposite reason.1

Tl;dr everything you know about food science is wrong.

  1. Drinking very cold water doesn’t “slow down” you organs; it apparently makes you body burn more calories to try and keep your core temperature stable. Which I guess could be a problem if you lived somewhere/-when where food scarcity was an issue, e.g. if you were a Ye Oldene Timese Chinese peasant. []
2019-03-25T15:14:29+11:0016th September, 2019|Tags: cw: dieting, food, science|

Mo’ money, mo’ carbon.

Also, while we’re on the subject: it’s not using plastic straws or taking half-hour showers that’s destroying the environment. It’s the fucking mega-rich.

Repeat after me, kids: Individual “choices” cannot fix structural issues. And as the article points out:

[T]here is no “free market” incentive to prevent disaster. An economic environment where a company is only considered viable if it’s constantly expanding and increasing its production can’t be expected to pump its own brakes over something as trivial as pending global catastrophe. Instead, market logic dictates that rather than take the financial hit that comes with cutting profits, it’s more reasonable to find a way to make money off the boiling ocean. Nothing illustrates this phenomenon better than the burgeoning climate-change investment industry. According to Bloomberg, investors are looking to make money off of everything from revamped food production to hotels for people fleeing increasingly hurricane-ravaged areas. A top JP Morgan Asset investment strategist advised clients that sea-level rise was so inevitable that there was likely a lot of opportunity for investing in sea-wall construction.

Grotesque.

2018-11-27T13:34:21+11:0012th April, 2019|Tags: climate, culture, nature, politics, science|