[EAS] Evolution, Mars & ISS
pjk at design.eng.yale.edu
Mon Jan 3 22:18:50 EST 2005
Mail*Link¨ SMTP Evolution, Mars & ISS
Let me forward you this last WHAT'S NEW to you in its entirety.
Information about getting your own subscription to the weekly
newsletter from the American Physical Society, and archives, are
at <http://www.aps.org/WN/>. --PJK
Date: 1/3/05 1:58 PM
From: whatsnew at bobpark.org
WHAT'S NEW Robert L. Park Friday, 31 Dec 04 Washington, DC
1. DARWINIAN EVOLUTION: "MONKEY TRIAL" RECONVENES IN DOVER, PA.
It's been 145 years since Darwin published Origin of Species,
perhaps the world's greatest scientific discovery. No other
idea has connected so many pieces of knowledge. It's now 80
years since the Scopes trial. If any doubts about evolution
remain, you might suppose that DNA analysis would sweep them
away. We can now measure how closely we are related to every
creature on Earth. We share half our DNA with yeast. So
genetically similar are bonobos to humans that, but for the
inability of bonobos to talk, they might demand a seat in the
UN. Yet, in Dover, PA, a town much like Dayton, TN, the school
board voted to require that intelligent design be taught
alongside evolution. The school board will lose in court, but
we must ask ourselves why science has been so spectacularly
unsuccessful in explaining such obvious truths to people.
2. THE EXPLORERS: SCIENCE MAGAZINE "BREAKTHROUGH OF THE YEAR."
A hundred-million miles or so from Dover, PA, two geologists
are picking their way over the Martian surface. They've found
what they were looking for: unmistakable evidence that in the
distant past there were bodies of salty water on Mars that may
have been nurseries of life. Science picked the exploration of
Mars as the Breakthrough of the Year. It is now a year since
Spirit bounced onto Mars, soon to be followed by Opportunity.
Eating only sunlight, they survived the Martian winter, the
intense radiation, and they're still going. The search for
life to which we are not related is the most exciting quest in
science. Spirit and Opportunity are wonderful instruments, but
it's the scientists back on Earth who control the robots,
having become virtual astronauts, who are the explorers. The
real distance from Dover, PA can't be measured in miles.
3. DIET HARD: NASA ON THE ISS CREW, "LET THEM EAT CAKE."
While scientists are exploring Mars, the big news from the ISS
was that a robotic Russian cargo craft had safely docked with
food and water. It was a month late. To make matters worse,
the previous crew had raided the pantry, forcing the crew of
two to eat mostly desserts and candy, sort of like Christmas on
Earth. What a sad waste. Is there any use to be made the
giant space turkey? Perhaps they could make an ISS sitcom.
THE UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND.
Opinions are the author's and not necessarily shared by the
University of Maryland, but they should be.
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