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Tag Archives: History

HAPPY BIRTHDAY EARTH!!!

So if you follow Bishop Ussher’s chronology and believe that the world was created on October 22, 6:00 PM 4004 BC then wish Earth a Happy 6014th Birthday! If you don’t, then use this as an awesome excuse to celebrate scientific discovery, absurdity, and either indulge in birthday cake or raise a glass tonight! Or […]

Null and VOID

Long long ago, in a country far far away, there existed a time when science had not yet come to be. When arts and science and philosophy had not yet diverged in the same manner that they have today. The place is Greece, The time is 50 BC, and the great thinkers of the time […]

Under the Sea

Yesterday there was a fantastic article published by Howard Falcon-Lang on the BBC website that detailed one of the greatest environmental experiments ever conducted. It centered on a tiny lump of rock in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, a place known as Ascension Island, which the British Navy used as a stopping point and re-stocking center for its ships. It was also a stopping point for research boats in the early 1800’s and served as a spot for a young Charles Darwin and botanist Joseph Hooker to stop and reload their ships and pick up any communications from England. They stopped there on two separate voyages, years apart, but Darwin and Hooker communicated with each other about their journeys, and both were interested in Ascension. Out of their shared experience in seeing the rock that was Ascension Island, they decided, as an experiment to send as many plants there as possible, from Botanic Gardens all around the Atlantic.

They were attempting to see whether they could turn a desolate place into a habitable one, and surprisingly, it worked! Usually the process of colonization of small island by either plants or animals takes an incredibly long time, but in this case it only took a hundred years or so for the plants to start “terra-forming” the place. Now a jungle exists in the higher elevations on the island, watered by clouds. It’s a great story, but not many people know about Ascension, and why would they? It’s in the middle of nowhere. Literally.

Which brings us, (in an incredibly round-about way-sorry) to the subject of this post- the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. One of the longest, if not the longest mountain ranges in the world, it runs along the base of the Atlantic Ocean almost from pole to pole. It is the dividing line between the tectonic plates that border it, separating North America from Eurasia and South America from Africa. If you drained the Atlantic Ocean it would look like a spine running down the middle of the ocean basin. The vertebrae of this spine are volcanoes, who continually spit up lava from deep under the ocean crust, gradually pushing the continents on either side apart.

Walk Like an Egyptian

If you watched the Colbert Report last night you saw part of Colbert’s “Award-Ready Series: Mysteries of the Ancient Unknown” Featuring Egyptian ‘treasure’ (gold, and king tut’s penis) and Scotland. Thank you Stephen, for the perfect lede for my post today.

Egypt is perhaps the best known location for Archaeology. People are absolutely fascinated by the mystery of an ancient culture so different from our own, and way older. Since the Egyptology craze began in the early 1800’s with Napoleon’s excavations, western civilization has been entranced by all things Ancient Egyptian. What started as front-page news in the 1800’s with the discovery of the Rosetta Stone and the renewed interest in the Pyramids, merged gradually with popular culture. The Art-Deco movement of the 1920’s and ’30’s was partially inspired by egyptian styles, and the opening of King Tut’s tomb in 1922 inspired a new wave of art, including the 1932 movie The Mummy starring Boris Karloff, which in turn, inspired the remake series in 1999.

Poetry and Science? Say what now?

cience and poetry are not things that usually go together. Some would say that they are two totally seperate ideas that cannot be reconciled. Those ‘some’ would be wrong.

Erasmus Darwin, painted by Joseph Wright (1770)
Meet Erasmus Darwin. He was the grandfather of the undeniably more recognized Darwin, Charles. He was also one of the most brilliant scientific minds of the early 1800’s, whose passion for reason was reflected in his poetry. Poetry that reflected not just the analysis of the world which was being undertaken in his time, but also the sheer glory and beauty of the world and the awesome power of discovery. He incorporated scripture and mythology into his works while discussing astronomy, biology, geology, anatomy, psychology, and many more, and often more than one at the same time. He was what would be considered a controversial thinker today, one that discussed evolution before it was known as evolution, and commented on anatomy before dissections were widely accepted. He valued reason and discovery and logic, but one thing that he did not see value in separating the study of humans (or the world) from the humanities.

In short, he’s a cool guy.

So today we have a selection of his poetry, taken from his book The Temple of Nature published in 1803, a year after he died.