Perhaps there was no winner, as this was not a scored debate. Nevertheless by all, or a strong majority of, accounts, I bested him. The fundamental idea that I hope all of us embrace is, simply put, performance counts as much or more than the specifics of the arguments in a situation like this. I admit that, for me at least, it took tremendous concentration. I was and am respectful of Ken Ham’s passion. At a cognitive level, he believes what he says. He really means it, when he says that he has “a book” that supersedes everything you and I and his parishioners can observe everywhere in nature around us. I respected that commitment; I used it to drive, what actors call, my “inner monologue.” I did not choose, as I was advised, to attack, attack, attack. My actor’s preparation helped me keep things civil and be respectful of Mr. Ham despite what struck me as his thoughtless point of view. I’m sure it influenced the countless people who’ve written to me and come up to me in public to express their strong and often enthusiastic support. Thank you all.
“Evolution happens like a movie, with frames moving by both quickly and gradually, and we often can’t see the change while it’s occurring. Every time we find a fossil, it’s a snapshot back in time, often with thousands of frames missing in between, and we’re forced to reconstruct the whole film. Life is what happens in between the snapshots.”—
When I was a child, it was believed that animals became extinct because they were too specialized. My father used to tell us about the saber-tooth tiger’s teeth — how they got too big and the tiger couldn’t eat because he couldn’t take game anymore. And I remember my father saying, with my brother sitting there, ‘I wonder what it will be with the human beings that will be so overspecialized that they’ll kill themselves off?’
My father never found out that my brother was working on the bomb.
Hi Joe!! Right now, I have a really horrible Calculus teacher, and I was wondering if you knew of any websites that can help me learn everything he didnt teach us before the midterm!! Thanks!
Eesh, I haven’t thought much about calculus since calculus class. Sorry your teacher can’t derive their way out of a paper bag.
Khan Academy, obvs, but I also recommend everyone check out Open Culture’s list of free online courses (scroll down for the math courses). It puts a cornucopia of learning at your fingertips. Bookmark that page. It’s glorious.
indy - Stands for “I’m not dead yet”, a la Monty Python (Fruit fly)
lush and cheap date - Affect alcohol metabolism (Fruit fly)
RING - A protein segment that comes from “really interesting new gene”
tiggerand pogo- Two families of transposable elements, or pieces of DNA that can jump around genomes (Multiple species)
kryptonite and superman - Kryptonite represses superman, which causes extra stamens to form in flowers (Arabadopsis)
Yuri gagarin - Protein involved in sensing gravity (Fruit fly)
callipyge - Leads to formation of large, round buttocks in sheep (from Greek for “beautiful buttocks”)
chablis, frascati, merlot, retsina, riesling, cabernet, grenache, chardonnay, chianti, pinotage, sauternes, weissherbst, zinfandel - A set of genes found to inhibit blood cell formation. Get it? Red and white?! (Zebrafish)
I think these would make an excellent art project, all you artistically-and-scientifically inclined people out there. Any of your favorites that I missed?
Hi Joe! Love your blog, and I wanted to ask: What year is it? Not in the Gregorian calendar but what actual scientific year for the earth is it? And if it's too hard to calculate, do we have an estimate? Thanks!
Kinda depends on where we set year zero, eh?
My first inclination was to answer this in relation to the Big Bang, calculating today’s date based on the age of the universe. When we average together the results of all the different scientific experiments that have sought to calculate that number, we get 13.798 ± 0.037 billion years, or an uncertainty of 37 million years. That’s less than 0.3% “?” territory, but still pretty fuzzy.
But wait! The idea of a “year” is based on the Earth’s orbit around the sun (and scientists have many ways of defining a year, as it turns out), so you can’t have “years” without Earth. I think Earth’s age is a better starting point.
Based on radiometric dating of ancient meteorites and other really old rocks, scientists peg Earth’s age at 4.54 ± 0.05 billion years, an uncertainty of 50 million years. Sheesh, 1% error? Are we sure about anything?
That means it’s somewhere between year 4,490,000,000 APF* and 4,590,000,000 APF. Kind of a broad estimate, unfortunately, but it means that next time someone tells you to turn something in or finish a project at work by a certain date, you can just stare at them for a few seconds and say “But we don’t even know what YEAR it is, man…”** and just walk away.
* “APF” stands for “After Planet Formation” and is an abbreviation I literally just now made up so it should not be deemed scientific, although I AM a scientist, so maybe just say it with conviction and everyone will believe you.
** I recommend using your best Spicoli impression while saying this.