Front Ears of Science

Never Trust a Wasp

Scientific method insists on the dispassionate observation of empirical fact. Usually.

In 1884, a correspondent for the science journal Nature reported observing some trapped wasps begin to gobble up a faltering companion. Mortally outraged, the investigator whacked the wasps with a book. Fucking cannibals – no starring role in the learned journals for you!

Science has come a long way since then. Cannibalism among various wasp species is now well known and morally sanctioned, as are the disgusting habits of birds who feed their young by regurgitation.

A little known criterion for Nobel prizes is the Ich! Factor. As in Ichthyology.


So this Shark Goes Out For a Walk,,,

Speaking of which – According to the International Journal of Ichthyology, some so-called scientists in Indonesia have discovered a new species of shark that walks, make that waddles along the ocean floor by waggling its fins.

As Darwin said, it takes all kinds. One might think, though, that if you plan to make your living as a shark, the least you could do would be learn to swim.


Fu Man Who?

A research team in Taiwan has developed a small computer chip that could be implanted in one of your teeth, tracking how often you cough, clench, chew, grind, or snore. The report we saw was vague about how this would enhance your health, but we thought you might like to know the name of the lead researcher: Dr. Chu.


Keynes on Flip-Flopping

When a gentleman at a conference accused him of fudging his previously stated position on an economic issue, John Maynard Keynes shot back:

“When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?”


Still Mything

Barb continues to comb the ruins of the Greek economy, looking for what she believes to be the three missing myths of ancient Athens – the stories of Polemic, Libido, and Apologia.


We Love Our ET’s – But Do They Ever Call?

Futurist Ray Kurzweil has begun to doubt that our future will feature any messages from aliens.

He questions the basis of SETI – the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence – and the optimistic estimates by Carl Sagan and others that there are at least a million advanced civilizations in our galaxy alone, plus those in 100 billion other galaxies. Kurzweil echoes Enrico Fermi’s famous question on that subject:

“Where is everybody?”

Why haven’t we heard from them? Not that anyone has asked us, but we don’t charge a cent for our opinions, so this may be well worth the price:

We’re talking about SpaceBook, not FaceBook.

The advanced beings out there may not be looking for friends or followers and may have no use whatever for civilizations like ours, barely past the stage of inventing radio – which some of them may have supplanted ten million years ago. They could be communicating instantaneously with quantum-entangled neutrinos or by some means we are a million years shy of even imagining.

And here we sit like a termite colony whose denizens have been hoping that some higher intelligence like humans or dolphins or parakeets or border collies might soon get in touch via a shower of pheromones.

As Carl Sagan once pointed out, if a primitive culture whose communications consist of runners and drums tries to foresee getting signals from an advanced civilization, they would probably imagine very fast runners and extremely loud drums.

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About Al

Editors of The Horse You Rode In On (listed below) hail from Boston, Pittsburgh, and San Francisco. All contributions are signed. When guest contributors are included, their comments will be signed in a manner consistent with their needs for discretion, witness protection, or yearning for personal adulation.