Hope, Promise, and Fun from Science and Technology

It Will be Hard to Avoid Politics for the Next Couple of Months. Let’s Take a Brain Break

Part of our Hey! Look at That! Series

We are in a time of challenge, tension, and reasons to worry. We have been here before in many ways, I note, on this the anniversary of the terrorism of 9/11. Still, even in times of risk and fear, there is also hope and good news. I thought we might take a one day break today to look at some of those things, take a deep breath, and drive on. Let’s look at some good news out there before rejoining the fight.

What’s Up?

While we are all focused on the daily grind, there are people working on remarkable things. Sometimes it is easy to miss the progress happening around us. Today I offer a short summary and some connections to such stories. This is good stuff. Enjoy them.

Today, I offer you a “Lucky 7” collection, all short with links to the articles that caught my attention. We have two in medicine and psychology, two in science and infrastructure. Two more in astronomy and astrophysics, and one for fun in some very old scie. All are informative and entertaining. Three of them tickled my funny bone – I hope they do the same for you.

Medicine & Psychology

Dementia, especially Alzheimer’s, has our attention. Anyone who has experienced this ailment can tell you there is no more terrible disease. The impact is huge and growing, as are the costs and number of patients. And yet, very little progress has been made against it. Some individuals and organizations (I am pleased to say Rotary International, with its CART program, is among these) have set out to rethink causes and cures. Some hopeful and innovative work is ongoing around the world. Here is a short article in Scientific American to catch you up on this vital fight: https://www.scientificamerican.com/report/a-new-era-for-alzheimers/

This next one is one of the fun articles I mentioned at the outset. It makes me feel as though I was ahead of my time all along. The title says it all: Why It Pays to be Grumpy and bad Tempered. I love it. I may be a trend setter. Enjoy this tongue in cheek review of personality and interhuman connection. From our friends at the BBC. https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20160809-why-it-pays-to-be-grumpy-and-bad-tempered

Science & Infrastructure

The current pandemic has taught us a lot of lessons, with more to come. If only we pay attention and learn from them. One that has come through loud and clear is the importance of modern infrastructure. Think of what broadband has come to mean. Think of its impact for education, employment, the arts, communications, medicine – everything. The Brookings Institution. This is a place where I spent a wonderful year learning how valuable my insights could be to others. I also learned how very little I actually knew. I would make the case this is America’s leading think tank.

They have provided an overview of the importance of the internet to us all. In so doing, they have called for rethinking public interest oversight of this powerful thing. This may turn out to be the most important question we ask as a civilization, right up there with climate change. Take a look. https://www.brookings.edu/blog/techtank/2020/04/29/covid-19-has-taught-us-the-internet-is-critical-and-needs-public-interest-oversight/

I have written before that we will be forever changed as a species once we learn how to communicate with other species. I came across a fascinating article in the journal Nautilus that goes me one further. This is a discussion of how one, a scientist, may be guided by plant voices. I know – sounds like a bit of New Age Mish-Mash, doesn’t it? Hold your judgement until you’ve read this short article, then see what you think. http://nautil.us/issue/84/outbreak/guided-by-plant-voices

Astronomy & Astrophysics

Ah, one of my very favorite places to take my mind – the cosmos! The first article for today in this group caught my attention in the frame of reference to super telescopes. The next two Really Big Deal telescopes are in the planning/building stages now. They will bring us spectacular knowledge. But they stand on the shoulders of the Hubble Telescope. Hubble, designed to last 10 years, just celebrated its 30 anniversary. It still delivers almost daily. What a wonder it is.

The Conversation ran a fine article on how Hubble showed us the first galaxies of our known universe. The scale of the things discussed in this article are delightfully mind blowing. Have a good time. https://theconversation.com/how-the-hubble-space-telescope-opened-our-eyes-to-the-first-galaxies-of-the-universe-133877

Here is another one that tickled my funny bone, although it was full of real facts and data. Once again, the title gives some hint of the fun to come. Your Cosmic Address is the Trippiest Thing You Will Learn Today. And justto prove you never know where good information comes from, check the source. Did I read this in Science Today or in Sky & Telescope? Nope. Found it in Travel & Leisure. You never know.

Anyway, this is the intergalactic version of a You Are Here sign. Sure, we all know we are on Earth, in the Solar System. But that is like the first two numbers of your zip code. Where are we exactly? Read on to find out. This one has some great photos, illustrations, and film clip as a bonus. Take notes. Might be handy if you ever travel outside the galaxy, you know.https://www.travelandleisure.com/trip-ideas/space-astronomy/earth-cosmic-address

Some Very Old Science

Let’s close with the last of the really fun ones. This is a well-researched but written in a spirit of fun article about the first wheel. Who invented that thing and why? Next time you are stuck in traffic, you may cuss this person, but overall we have to admit, pretty good invention.

The article was brought to us by the often excellent Wired magazine. It opines that the evidence is good that the first wheel may well have been a toy. Not an engineering feat to build something important. No, something to amuse a child so mom could have a moment of piece. Some things never change. It’s a fun read. See if you agree with its conclusions.

OK, Break is Over

Back to work! We will pick up with political and related matters of reflection until the election, at least. Ever since I saw that young dweeb on the first night of the Republican Sort-Of Convention declare Donald Trump the Protector of Western Civilization, I knew we had work to d. And so back to it we go.

In the case of that aforementioned young man, he did make me think about science. I was thinking as I listened to him that if only I could go back in time 20 years. I would find his mother and talk to her about birth control. But that’s another discussion, isn’t it?

Absentee voting has begun in some states.
Early voting begins soon.
Election day is 52 days away.
Make a plan and vote.

Bill Clontz

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2 replies to Hope, Promise, and Fun from Science and Technology

  1. Holy smokes Bill! It would take all day to read all your attachments. I picked two…the amazing Hubble and invention of the wheel Both excellent and worth the read. Had to pass on the others.

    • And what, sir, are you doing better with your time than catching up on the wonders of science?😉

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