Neglect or Nature?


I see this post on the BBC news website this morning and it got me to thinking: Is this our place to help?

It seems scientists mapped the genome for the Tazmanian Devil in the hope that they can cure the horrible disease of Devil Facial Tumour Disease and save the species from extinction.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a strong advocate for animal rights and I believe the way we treat our planet and the creatures that inhabit it is disgusting (majority of times) and we do little or nothing to prevent or cure problems that we ourselves have made through the likes of poaching, land incursion, pollution etc. Look at this list from the WWF website and tell me how many of those animals are on this list because of our actions? But I bet you’re all still eating Tuna with your jacket potato….

Anyway, back to my point.

The Tasmanian devil is suffering from a horrible form of facial cancer (Devil facial tumour disease) that is spread from animals biting each other. They suffer a horrible death:

And I get why passionate people want to save the last meat-eating marsupial in the world. I really do. But do we have a right to? Isn’t this Darwin’s theory of evolution in action? Natural selection? We play god enough with our own species, let alone another. For all we know, evolution has it in mind that this creature is to become extinct thanks to this facial cancer and another creature take its place.

I feel I shouldn’t really have posted the second picture, as any human with the slightest compassion for living beings will feel appalled and want to help them. I do too. But there is a conflict raging in me whether we should or not. Should our work be aimed at the animals onthis list because we put them there more so than the devil whom nature has decreed should suffer this fate?

We, as the human race and self-appointed guardians of the planet, need to make this judgement call. There is no right or wrong answer. Either way, a species will die due to our actions (directly or indirectly) as many have done before and will do again.

I’d be interested to find other people’s views on this as it’s a subject that doesn’t get enough press when you compare it to human causes.

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Breath-Taking Aurora Video


I hate to bang on about the same thing, but I saw this video and just HAD to share it. Not only is it an amazing feat in itself, but the images around 1.30 are breathtaking. I sooo want to see this now.

Perhaps because he could no longer fly on the Concorde, Air France passenger Nate Bolt decided to simulate what it would be like to fly from San Francisco to Paris—in just two minutes.

In reality, the flight lasted about 11 hours, taking off from California at 3:35 p.m. local time, crossing over Greenland at night, and landing in France at 11:10 a.m. local time.

But instead of packing books and B-movies, Bolt came prepared with a unique form of onboard entertainment: time-lapse photography equipment.

With a whole row to himself, Bolt had lots of room to set up a digital SLR camera, a tripod, and a time-lapse controller, arranged to take pictures out the plane window every 2 to 30 seconds, depending on exposure time. That’s about a picture every two miles, Bolt calculates.

In total he racked up 2,459 still frames that, when strung together, result in a two-minute movie of the world going by.

This is pretty cool in and of itself. But in the dark of night Bolt got an even cooler surprise: a vivid green aurora borealis.

The photographer said couldn’t see the northern lights with his naked eyes, according to The Christian Science Monitor. But when he previewed the long-exposure shots on his camera, the auroras leapt from the LCD screen.

With some viewers wondering how Bolt saw northern lights from a south-facing window, he replied in his YouTube comments:

“Basically, SF to Paris takes you over Greenland and the Arctic Circle, because that’s the straightest route (crazy, I know), so from that location and flying altitude, you can see northern lights from both sides of the plane.”

Care of National Geographic: Victoria Jaggard

I’m Not The Same Person I Once Was


Only a quick little post. Seems the viral community has been going wild for the fact that astrology has been proved wrong.

SHOCK HORROR!

It turns out there are actually 13 signs of the zodiac and not the traditional 12. Ophiuchus is the black sheep of the family we’ve been trying to forget about. Apparently, it slots nicely between Scorpio and Sagittarius and throws all of our “beliefs” in astrology out the window.

So why did we forget about poor little Ophiuchus? Apparently, when they were all set up 2000 years ago, it wasn’t a problem. But the Earth very unkindly wobbles on its axis (precession) and this, over time, has thrown everything out of sync:

But according to astrologers there are 12 signs of the zodiac. Wrong! There are 13 signs of the zodiac; Ophiuchus is the ‘new’ one yet for some curious reason I have never come across an Ophiuchian!

Taking the concept of the signs of the zodiac, I was born in July which means that when I was born the sun was in Cancer. Wrong again. Originally yes, the sun would have been in Cancer when the star/sun charts were produced about 2000 years ago. But in reality, the wobble of the Earth on its axis — which we call “precession” — has led to them being all out of sync.

In fact, when I was born, way back in July 1973, the Sun was in Gemini. News Flash: you’re all reading the wrong star signs! All those astrology columns you’ve read that seemed spot-on were a fluke. Surprising eh?

Mark Thompson


Technically, the Sun passes through Ophiuchus, and in fact is in the constellation longer than it’s in Scorpius! But we don’t include it in the zodiac for a couple of reasons; one is that the stars in it are pretty faint, while those of Scorpius are brighter and easier to recognize, and another is that we can’t have 13 constellations, can we? So poor Ophiuchus is sent off to hold his serpent by himself.Phil Plait, Bad Astronomy

This now makes me a Libra.

Good job I never got that Scorpio tattoo I was looking at!!

Capricorn: Jan. 20-Feb. 16.
Aquarius: Feb. 16-March 11.
Pisces: March 11-April 18.
Aries: April 18-May 13.
Taurus: May 13-June 21.
Gemini: June 21-July 20.
Cancer: July 20-Aug. 10.
Leo: Aug. 10-Sept. 16.
Virgo: Sept. 16-Oct. 30.
Libra: Oct. 30-Nov. 23.
Scorpio: Nov. 23-29.
Ophiuchus: Nov. 29-Dec. 17.
Sagittarius: Dec. 17-Jan. 20.

Can Religion and Science Co-Exist?


I’m having a running discussion today with a friend of mine regarding the relationship between God (in this discussion, Christian God) and Science. She is an avid Jehovah’s Witness, I am a Catholic although DEFINITELY more of a scientist than a religious believer.

Let me clarify our points of view:

She believe whole heartedly in the Bible, what it says and the teachings of her faith (which I truly admire, as I’ve said before). As such, she finds the idea of, for example, evolution to be something bordering offensive. God created man in His own image, so the idea we come from monkeys………..

I, on the other hand, believe completely in the theory of evolution (keeping with the same example). But I also believe in God. What I don’t believe in are the Bible stories of the likes of Adam & Eve etc. I believe God did create everything, but more along the lines of he started the ball rolling and left it to grow as it rolled.

For me, I can’t believe that the world was created in 7 days exactly how the Bible tells us. If there weren’t HUGE scientific evidence to the contrary proving our world is over 4 billion years old. The Bible tells us it’s around 6500 years old (circa 4500bc). We have evidence of the human race being around before that……

But I also have difficulty with science. Lets look at the big bang. Stephen Hawking is a total genius and I truly admire this man. His theories are sound, but there are holes. For example, what caused the big bang and what was there before it? How can the universe come from nothing? My answer here is God.

Then we have the PERFECT chain of events that lead to our existence. Lets forgo the big bang. It happened. But from that we have the fact that matter and anti-matter did NOT wipe each other out. Enough survived to create the universe (point 1). Then the fact that EXACTLY the right amount of elements formed together to create our sun (point 2). Then EXACTLY the right amount of material created our planet (point 3). Then the collision between early forming Earth and Theia happened at EXACTLY the right angle to create our moon (which I discovered last night, courtesy of Nat Geo, performs a HUGE part in our survival and overall existence(point 4)) and leave EXACTLY the right amount of iron to form our core and create our magnetic field (essential in our survival from solar radiation (point 5)).

I could continue on about the gravity needed to keep our atmosphere, then move on to the fluke that created the first life form…….. Could be here for a long, long time, but you get my point. Stephen Hawking himself said nothing in this universe is perfect, but this chain is………. un-naturally perfect. This I attest to God.

I believe God started it all. He caused the big bang and planned everything, but I believe he put everything in place and let it go….. Line those dominoes up, give the first one a flick and watch them all fall into place.

But I believe science is our way of understanding this and coming to terms with it all. No replacing God, not playing Him, but understanding him. If He didn’t intend us to learn and develop our intelligence, why give us free will and the ability to learn?

Luckily, my friend and I can agree to disagree, although she’s sending me some info which I’m happily going to read. Who knows, maybe it’ll change my mind 🙂