Category Archives: Science and Nature

Sunset and sunbow in Jerusalem, RI

Posted via email from Webcrumbs (Posterous Edition)



My wife sent this to me. Read the top and bottom entries on the list and tell me what’s wrong with this picture?


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More Richard Dawkins Goodness

Another great interview with Richard Dawkins.

I remember somebody once saying to me that they felt sorry for me that I did not believe in God that the Universe must be a very stark place: life is random, death is final, and the Universe just is, there’s no purpose or design behind it. I replied that it was exactly the opposite. The fact that life was random and death final makes it that much more beautiful. The ephemeral nature of it means that it is precious and something to be cherished. By the same token, the Universe being as beautiful, wonderful, and awe-inspiring as it is, is that much more so because it wasn’t made that way but just happens to be that way.

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Daniel Dennett on Intelligent Design

Daniel Dennett, Tufts professor and author writes a fantastic op-ed called Show Me the Science in which he does a wonderful job of explaining just why intelligent design is not even remotely an alternative theory to evolution but just a lot of noise and no actual content. Well worth reading.

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Creationism: God’s gift to the ignorant

Oh man… I so love reading Richard Dawkins: Creationism: God’s gift to the ignorant

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Hiking Great Falls

Dragonfly on my Hat

Dragonfly on my Hat,
originally uploaded by andyjw.

We went hiking at Great Falls yesterday. The weather was gorgeous — right when we got back, it began to rain so our timing was also perfect. We went very slowly so Jack could be an explorer and discover lots of cool things including plants, bugs, and even a lizard! We never actually made it down to the waterfall itself but nobody minded. We had a great time as it was.

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I recent watched all four parts of Nova’s Origins which was quite well done. Soon after, my wife found an interesting article about the man behind the Intelligent Design movement and how these modern creationists are becoming more sophisticated in their arguments. As I read it, I found myself intuitively knowing that his arguments were flawed but unable to directly counter them. Today, I found Scientific American’s 15 Answers to Creationist Nonsense and now have the arguments I lacked. I’m many years behind on my evolutionary reading and the only real argument I had in my arsenal was the simple one that just because we don’t know the answer to one question does not invalidate all of the other answers we do have. That’s a logical fallacy.

A more interesting question that’s come up lately (something that my wife and I often go back and forth on) is whether the scientific method per se is enough to handle all questions. Is it too narrow an approach and prevents certain other outlooks or perspectives from being considered? I see some shades of Scully from the X-Files or Ellie from Contact here…<.p>

Cherry Blossoms

Cherry Blossoms - 117
We went to see the Cherry Blossoms (see my photographs) this afternoon and, being the insane people we are (and because Ann’s working retail and her feet are killing her and I sprained my ankle nearly two weeks ago (and it is still killing me) we decided to drive there. But Ann’s the parking goddess (and the threat of rain helped) and, like 2002 when we last went, we got parking almost immediately right in the lot across the basin from Jefferson. (Now THAT was a long sentence). It began to sprinkle the second we got out of the car but that didn’t stop us from taking 128 pictures and having fun. Right when we finished the roll (CF card) it began to pour so we bopped over to Bertucci’s and had dinner.

After dinner we went to Barnes & Noble so I could use the last of the gift card my mother sent me for my birthday. There, Jack played with a 3 year old boy who was there with his two fathers. In the car Jack was incredulous, “He has two fathers? No one can have two fathers!”

“Sure they can,” we both said and proceeded to explain about adoption and how couples come in all varieties.

It’s at this point in the narrative that I should remind you, dear reader, that Jack goes to a baptist pre-school. You just know that we’ll be getting an angry call tomorrow.

Guardian Unlimited | The Guardian | A genius explains

Guardian Unlimited | The Guardian | A genius explains:

“Tammet is calculating 377 multiplied by 795. Actually, he isn’t ‘calculating’: there is nothing conscious about what he is doing. He arrives at the answer instantly. Since his epileptic fit, he has been able to see numbers as shapes, colours and textures. The number two, for instance, is a motion, and five is a clap of thunder. ‘When I multiply numbers together, I see two shapes. The image starts to change and evolve, and a third shape emerges. That’s the answer. It’s mental imagery. It’s like maths without having to think.'”

Utterly fascinating article.

Uh Oh: “Why the Sun seems to be ‘dimming'”

From BBC News: Why the Sun seems to be ‘dimming’