I DON’T RECALL who first said that time is an illusion: it could have been a famous theoretical physicist, or one of my uncles, or that guy in college who’d always want to talk about quantum mechanics after six Jägermeisters. And, yes, it’s true I haven’t kept up with some of my uncles—so theoretically the crazy college guy could have become a physicist and married one of my aunts, in which case all three answers are the correct answer. Read even a little bit of theoretical physics, and you’ll quickly see that weirder things have happened—and they’re happening all the time, all around us.
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IF YOU READ this little website of mine, you probably know I’m a fan of science and that I talk about sciency and logically things all the time. My partner Nicole follows IFLScience, where they have some science gift ideas that are cool and that you should definitely check out, for that special science nerd in your life.
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THE OTHER DAY the United Nations released a report on global climate change, whose title I don’t recall but I’ll guess is something like OMG We Are So Screwed People, and it concludes that:
– the Earth’s climate has warmed at a rate faster than any other time in the past 800,000 years
– it is 95% certain that global climate warming is anthropogenic
– if global greenhouse gas (CO2) emissions are not reduced to zero by the end of this century, we will miss the below-two-degree-celsius target we need to meet if we’re to avoid volatile and catastrophic weather events.
Okay, now for the rest of this you’ll need to put on your science hat. You have a science hat, right? Good! I’ll wait here until you’re ready.
HAS IT EVER occurred to you how weird it is to worry about the environment? First of all, think about the word environment. It means everything, all the stuff everywhere that’s all around you: tress, bugs, sunshine, atoms, radiation. My dictionary defines the environment as “the objects or the region surrounding anything.” Worrying about the environment is therefore about as specific and meaningful as worrying about stuff and things.
MONTREAL DIRECTOR Jean-Marc Vallée first got my attention with the excellent French-language film C.R.A.Z.Y.. Now he’s taken his notoriety to a new level, with Dallas Buyers Club, written by Craig Borten and starring Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Garner and Jared Leto.
I‘VE KNOWN since the age of eight that I would be a writer, but biology was the subject which came in at a close second. The first book I read in college was Richard Dawkins’ The Blind Watchmaker, for a first-year university biology course. To many Dawkins is the leading advocate of “militant atheism,” and for this reason one may fail to notice that his campaign on behalf of science — necessarily a campaign against anti-science — is defensive in nature. But who would have thought even a decade ago that science would be in need of defence? These were my thoughts last week, as I participated in Stand Up for Science, an initiative of an agency called Evidence for Democracy.
IN AN interview conducted by New Scientist magazine, for the occasion of Stephen Hawking’s seventieth birthday, the opening question serves to remind the reader (as if reminder were needed) that the world’s perhaps most famous cosmologist is a fellow of esoteric thought.
As I write these words, British Dame and ethologist Jane Goodall is arrived to the oil capital of Canada to promote an environmental conservation agenda and to reflect upon fifty years of chimpanzee research in the Gombe Stream National Park of Tanzania. With her work you are no doubt familiar: she has done all she can to make of that a certainty. An unrelenting traveler, if she is not on the road nor in the air, it is only because she is before an audience.
I also need not tell you that her research and advocacy have been occasions of disagreement and sometimes hostile opposition. On the subject of the environment’s rough handling by the human species I don’t share the hostile response to her message, but I think I understand why it exists. Her statement the other day that “we have really, really harmed Mother Nature and I don’t know how long she will retain this amazing ability to regenerate” makes me think, as all environmentalist-doomsday utterances do, of George Carlin’s brilliant commentary on “saving the planet.” If you’re not familiar, allow me to sum it up for you in his own words: “There is nothing wrong with the planet. The planet is fine. The people are fucked.” Who can argue? It is indeed the case that we’ll be long gone soon enough, and the Earth will go on as it did for billions of years before we arrived, quite by accident. Continue reading Jane Goodall