Scientists now are certain vines and poison ivies are growing much faster than other foilage due to the rise in CO2 in our atmosphere. I see it here, even, on my far northern mountain. Also, scientists wonder about physics. They are uneasy due to the rising tide of data that renders a lot of set beliefs inoperative or badly out of whack. And London closes the last planetarium due to lack of interest.
By Elizabeth Williamson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, July 15, 2006; Page A01
Vines -- poison ivy, Japanese honeysuckle, kudzu -- snake through the back yard, girdling trees and strangling shrubs, thriving, scientists say, on the same pollution they blame for global warming.
From backyard gardens to the Amazon rain forest, vines are growing faster, stronger and, in the case of poison ivy, more poisonous on the heavy doses of carbon dioxide that come from burning such fossil fuels as gasoline and coal.
"We're getting more calls from the public," says Mark Smith of Maryland's Agriculture Department, near poison ivy. (By Susan Biddle -- The Washington Post)
Complaints about vine infestation have increased tenfold in a decade, said Carole Bergmann, forest ecologist for the Maryland-National Capital Parks and Planning Commission, which serves Montgomery and Prince George's counties. Vines have choked gardens, ruined brickwork, disrupted bird habitat and clogged paths, ponds and air conditioning and electronic equipment.
I remember reading books like the famous Tarzan series by Edgar Rice Burroughs when I was a kid. We also watched the old Tazan movies on TV. I loved playing Tazan on the playgrounds in the desert. Because it was so hot and dry, it was fun pretending we were in a dense jungle and using ropes in lieu of vines, we would swing wildly about beating our chests and yodelling. Any exuse to be loud. Heh.
One thing is certain: over the last 50 years, I have watched vines take over more and more territory. When one drives south from my farm into NYC, the number of vines covering trees grows greater and greater the further south one drives. They coat everything now when one is south of NYC.
I remember old SF books and movies about Venus that featured deep jungles. My first one was by Heinlein about some drunk law students Shanghaied onto Venus to do manual labor. I loved that story and read others. I was only seven years old back then. It must have been that long drought in the mid fifties that set me to reading about swamps! We used to pray for clouds back then.
Talking about heat and droughts, the devastating fires are raging across southern California today. The desert ecosystem is barely harmed by sweeping fires, indeed, these lightning fires are needed by both grasslands and desert. The plants are very adapted to these events. Preventing fires by dumping chemicals on them is stupid and a waste. Humans want to live in fire-vulnerable buildings in the desert. This is a mistake. One either builds for fires or live with the consequences.
For example, this one woman built a house out of straw, yes, she probably forget all those nursery tales about little piggies, and it burned down. Duh. I lived in adobe walled houses that had walls more than a foot thick. Heck, the cement brick walls of my present home are a foot thick! This conserves the coolness in summer and keeps the warmth of the sun in winter.
Since California is earthquake country, if one builds with adobe, one must build a seperate superstructure inside, namely interior walls of wood and plaster that can hold up the roof if there is an earthquake.
California is a geological/ecological dangerous zone.
Special to SPACE.com
SPACE.com Tue Jul 11, 12:00 PM ET
Public confidence in the "constants" of nature may be at an all time low. Recent research has found evidence that the value of certain fundamental parameters, such as the speed of light or the invisible glue that holds nuclei together, may have been different in the past.
"There is absolutely no reason these constants should be constant," says astronomer Michael Murphy of the University of Cambridge. "These are famous numbers in physics, but we have no real reason for why they are what they are."
The observed differences are small-roughly a few parts in a million-but the implications are huge: The laws of physics would have to be rewritten, not to mention we might need to make room for six more spatial dimensions than the three that we are used to.
So long as scientists cling to the 'ever expanding universe that is flying apart' model, they will have to have increasingly devious devices to explain the obvious. Mother Nature loves simplicity. Whenever complicated stuff is cooked up in our brains to explain things so they fit in previous mental models, we see more and more elaboration. Nature laughs at our efforts.
And I know some websites think I am stupid. Well, Mother Nature has to be the stupidest woman in creation. Ask her.
Critics of dumbing down who rage at the loss of London's only planetarium, which Madame Tussauds opened on the site of a bombed cinema 48 years ago, are unlikely to be mollified by the educational aspect of the new show.
Beforehand, an actor by the name of Mr Blue teaches toddlers and teenage tourists how to be a celebrity. Today's star-savvy youth appear to know it all already. "Who are paparazzi?" he asked a 10-year-old girl. Without skipping a beat, came the correct answer: "People who invade your privacy."
It was hard to find someone in the Stardome who would have preferred to gasp at the wonders of our o'erhanging firmament. "What they've got now is better," said James Coles, visiting with his wife and two children. "There's only so much education you can take. People are here to have fun, not necessarily learn."
Everyone wants to be a celebrity. No brains needed. I watched the Science Fiction scene die. Fewer and fewer 'techie' books being published, diminishing interest in exploring the heavens even as our many satellite observatories in space and multi-mirror arrays on earth open up the entire history of the past of all creation to us.
This quest after brainless impulses are coming at a time when the opposite is needed. Attention must be paid! One never stops learning. What one learns is what matters. And learning nothing is death.