The Weekender is a weekly column devoted to the ideas/articles/videos that I find fascinating and wish I had more time to explore.
My wife’s Valentine roses only lasted one week. Russian scientists recovered seeds that had been locked in the siberian permafrost for 30,000 years and managed to make them grow, although it was a little bit more complex than placing the seeds under a grow lamp. The scientists extracted the plant placenta from inside the seeds, bathed them in a mash of nutrients until they sprouted roots and stems and then potted the plants two years later. The result was a leafy plant with unique white flowers, which are fully viable and capable of producing their own seeds, thus continuing an evolutionary branch after a 30,000 year hiatus.
Stunning beauty on repeat. Photographer Tony Rowell is creating some of the most gorgeous videos I have ever seen with his time lapse photography…I have posted his videos before – but this one is remarkable for the breadth of beauty that it depicts, from jagged peaks, to ancient trees…its simply stunning. In fact, it is so good, I won’t even make you click the link.
Gifted Comet. Phil Plait is one of my science writers, and in this article, he takes a behind the scenes look at this stunning picture:
which shows a comet with two tails. Based upon our terrestrial understanding of physics…a comet shouldn’t have more than one tail. He goes on to explain how this happens, and in layman’s terms, solar wind vaporizes the ice in the comet, pushing the water vapor away from the sun (that’s the blue/green tail). The comet is also comprises of rock and dust, which is released when the ice evaporates, but it is not pushed by the solar wind, and lags behind the comet a little bit (the reddish tail). His explanation is much better, and makes much more sense, so click over.
That bloss’s adam’s ale turned me into an admiral of the narrow seas. Project Guttenberg has put together a list of common words from 1811. It is entirely too entertaining the peruse the list. The intro line for this piece meant something to the effect of “the shoplifter’s booze made me vomit into my neighbors lap.” The dirtier the funnier, like a “buck of the first head” is someone whose debauchery outshines all of his peers. I hope no one ever gives me a “cold pig” which consists of ripping the bedclothes off of a person and throwing cold water on them. Also, i might start mingling a few of these words in my everyday conversation. How could you not want to call someone a “lobcock” (A large relaxed penis: also a dull inanimate fellow.) (via Kottke)
Not the greatest measurement of the human condition. This is a compilation of over 50 years of the winners of the World Press Association’s “photo of the year.” More often than not, it is moment captured during or after some sort of catastrophic devastation (death, disease, famine) making it extremely emotional and depressing. You will also find motorcycle racing and soccer games, but it is mostly incredibly poignant despair. It makes you think about how awful humans can be towards each other.
I guess that lying is ok now? Two quick points about the Republican debate from this last week…the top link is to an article that questions Gingrich’s assertion that by reforming the Civil Service system, the US could save $500 billion a year (even though the entire federal payroll is only ($432 billion). This second article wonders if the candidates themselves can even believe the things that they say. Once again Gingrich said, “This is an administration which, as long as you’re America’s enemy, you’re safe. You know, the only people you’ve got to worry about is if you’re an American ally.” A key Republican talking point for years has been how soft Democrats are on defense. But when Obama is raining down death from the sky on Osama, Al-Awlaki, Al-Shahri and the nineteen other top terrorists that Obama has taken out…shouldn’t that assertion be re-evaluated? Or is it ok for Republicans to continue lying to themselves and to the nation?