Archive for the ‘Science’ Category




Fracking the shale that holds America’s “inexhaustible” store of hydrocarbons destroys our greatest treasure of aquifers of clean, pure water by poisoning it with deadly chemicals.

We don’t dare mine, refine and use it all anyway, because that would push the volume of awful weather disasters past the point of survival for many of the things we cherish. The only way we can give our grandchildren a chance for a nearly decent life is to stop the reckless and deadly habit of mining every molecules of carbon that will burn, and using it to pollute and ultimately destroy the world’s treasure of clean air and water.

We’ve already driven thousands of species of living things into extinction. Do you want to add humanity to that terrible list?

Jeffrey Sachs

    Jeffrey Sachs


“Much of the world is already in water crisis, and that crisis will only continue to grow.”

Jeffrey Sachs

Enrico Fermi

    Enrico Fermi


“There are two possible outcomes. If the results confirm the theory, then you’ve made a measurement. If the results contradict the theory, then you’ve made a discovery.”

Enrico Fermi

(Snow, I mean.)

Illustration by George Alfred Williams from the 1905 edition of  "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens.

Illustration by George Alfred Williams from the 1905 edition of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.

When Dickens was writing his novels, the London winters were different. Then urchins threw snowballs to knock men’s top hats off their heads, and grown men slid their way across ice patches in the sidewalks for fun, and that’s what Dickens showed them doing in his books.

They don’t do much of that any more. The color of winter isn’t white anymore, it’s now soggy brown.

And, from where I sit, it looks like New York and Chicago followed that same muddy path again this year. That’s bad news for, among others, farmers and people who get their stored summer water from streams and springs fed by the winter snowpack.

In some winters to come there may not be a snowpack. In others, paradoxically, there may be more than ever because warmer air can carry more moisture. Although the annual northern hemisphere snow cover in 2012 was 0.3 million sq. km less than the 43-year average reported by the Global Snow Lab at Rutgers University, ranking 2012 as having the 12th least extensive cover on record, the snow cover for this past December was the highest since 1966.

But there’s one rule that all water users should follow:

Don’t waste it!


cow pat


If you’re driving a People’s Gas truck and the fuel tank is running low, head for the North Side of Chicago. There the first of three filling stations has been operating for a year, turning waste cow dung into truck fuel with the help of an Obama Administration grant. An anerobic converter changes half a million gallons of cow manure into clean fuel a day, enough to drive a truck 20,000 miles, with the help of live bacteria.

Frederik Pohl and Milly

Me and Milly

Psychologist Emile van der Zee, at the University of Lincoln in the U.K., is studying how dogs perceive differences between objects. When a human being hears the word “ball” he forms a visual image of something marked by its roundness — the most marked trait he observes by looking at it and handling it.

His dog, however, does not rely on those inputs. Its principal source of information is its mouth, and it isn’t clear what traits it considers most significant when dogs handle things with their mouths, which seems to suggest that size and texture are more important.

Researchers taught a collie dog named Gable made-up names for some objects, one of them being a horseshoe-shaped thing they named a “dax.” Asked to fetch a “dax,” Gable brought something larger or smaller, but not necessarily retaining the “shape” bias.