Nerd Blurbs: Earth, Air, and Space Edition

Greetings earthlings and welcome back to both you and us at Worlds As Myth!

In this week’s edition of Nerd Blurbs we’ll take a look at some hot news regarding the thought-extinct Galapagos tortoise, how carbon emissions are affecting our weather, and we’ll take a look at Joe Piscopo‘s career!…what’s that? Oh, rather, we’ll talk about the new map of the universe’s dark matter – sorry Piscopo for giving you hope you actually have a career to speak of.

Alien Tortoises Actually Terrestrial!

If someone said “Galapagos” you’ll probably either think of Kurt Vonnegut or this:

And oddly, it's thinking of you too.

Turns out that the Giant Galapagos tortoise inhabits seven different islands in the said island chain; they were crucial to Darwin’s theory of evolution in that they demonstrated the way that each breed differed according to the environment it lived in. Enter Chelonoidis elephantopus, also known as the Floreana tortoise (so called because it once inhabited Floreana Island), a breed of giant tortoise that had the unfortunate distinction of living where whalers (people who hunt whales) set up shop, who effectively ate said tortoise to extinction. Or so we thought.

As USA Today reports, a finding from 1994 has been followed-up (FINALLY,ya’ know?), revealing that something like 40 tortoises on Isabela Island (whose native tortoises are Chelonoidis becki) are actually the transplanted Floreana tortoises. That’s a lot of tortoise in one sentence.

Presumably, whalers either dropped the big reptiles, or they escaped (possibly with the help of some mutant teenage turtle cousins), and found their way to Isabela, which had been ignored by said whalers because there isn’t a water source – which begs the question as to how 8,000 tortoises (of apparently various species) survive there. But that’s beside the point.

Up until the 1994 discovery, via blood sampling of the so-called “alien” inhabitants of Isabela Island, researchers believed the loveable scamps known as elephantopus were long gone; but thanks to genetic research and DNA testing we can finally get the properly called for ingredients for mom’s Elephantopus Chowder.

Romano, Leary, and Leguizamo Be Damned!

Help! A stampeding metaphor is heading right for me!

If there’s one thing that has been dependable in the past, it was Ice Ages. Especially little ones; beside being cute and cuddly, they’d freeze your given anatomical parts off. Flash-forward more than 600, and 300 or so years since the Industrial Revolution, and our spewing carbon into the atmosphere and Ice Ages are suddenly harder to pin down.

Case in point, as The Telegraph reports, a research team out of Cambridge University has determined that we’re due for another Ice Age within the next fifteen-hundred years, but due to carbon dioxide that’s been dumped into the atmosphere by us over the past three centuries, they’re not certain when it’ll hit. As the article state:

“[A]n ice age would only be able to begin if the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere were to fall from 390 parts per million (ppm) to 240ppm or lower, according to the study published in the Nature Geoscience journal.

Separate research has shown that even if we cut our carbon emissions instantly, concentrations in our atmosphere would remain artificially high for the next 1,000 years.

Sir Fred Hoyle’s CCNet-Essay: On the Cause of Ice-Ages, seems to indicate that this is a good thing, because we’ve had some advantageous weather since the Industrial Revolution, and not really any Little Ice Ages to speak of, and that a new Ice Age would undoubtedly kill most of the world’s population. You know what else might do that Fred? Carbon dioxide poisoning and sun stroke. Just saying.

Map of Even More Stuff You Can’t See!

Previous map next to moon, because that's how much it matters. Dark matters.

BBC reports that at the 219th American Astronomical Society meeting (or the one place where people get laid less than at ComicCon), for images of dark matter were presented for the first time. The images were collected by a team from the Canada-France Hawaii Telescope over the four seasons at a particular very-small patch (though much larger than the previous patch) of sky and utilized light diffusion to infer the data.  As Professor Ludovic Van Waerbeke, from the University of British Columbia, explains:

“[We]  ‘see’ the dark matter using space-time distortion.”

Oh. Well, that makes perfect sense then. Sure that’s not a euphemism for dropping a lot of LSD and seeming to see a distortion between the time you took the acid and the space you now inhabit? Was that stretch? Okay, back to the dark matter at hand.

The four pictures represent something to the order of ten million galaxies, each that have had their light diffused through the dark matter, which can be regressed to indicate that we’re looking at light from the past, up to the very beginnings of Creation. It also confirms very much what dark matter had been theorized to look like, which as Dr. Catherine Heymans puts it:

“[I]t should form a giant intricate cosmic web and that’s exactly what we see in this data, a cosmic web that’s housing the galaxies that we can see.”

She included the phrase “man” a dozen or so times in that brief statement, but the BBC thankfully redacted them. The universe is essentially housed in the webbing of if Spiderman and Galactus had a love-child. Gross, I know, but heyman, I’m not the one who put “cosmic” and “web” in the same sentence.


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Filed under Nature, Nerd Blurbs, News, Science

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