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Darwin Day is a global celebration of science and reason held on or around Feb. 12, the birthday anniversary of evolutionary biologist Charles Darwin. This year marks the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birth.
On this website you can find all sorts of information about Charles Darwin and the Darwin Day Celebration. If you are hosting a Darwin Day event, you can post information about it on our events listing. You can also locate Darwin Day programs near you by searching our events section.
Cedar Rapids and Estherville, Iowa
Hundreds of workers lost their jobs after the Rockwell-Goss printing press factory closed here in Cedar Rapids in 2001. The hulking empty shell sat idle on the outskirts of the city for four years.
But that was before wind power blew into town, bringing thousands of clean-tech manufacturing jobs to Iowa and the Midwest.
In many cases, the new industry is setting up shop in defunct heavy manufacturing plants, bringing new economic life and vitality to old settings.
Bob Loyd, who once oversaw crews manufacturing the last printing presses to leave the old Rockwell-Goss factory, now manages workers assembling the newest generation of giant wind turbines in the same building.
“We’ve all watched the demise of heavy manufacturing in the Midwest in recent years,” says Mr. Loyd, plant manager at Clipper Turbine Works, a division of Clipper Windpower in Carpinteria, Calif.
“I wouldn’t say it’s all returned. But wind power is definitely helping bring some of that manufacturing muscle back.”
Over to your right, at the start of his U.S. News op-ed on creationism, Henry Morris contends that 60 percent of Americans believe in the Jewish and Christian myth of creation: that some 10,000 years ago, a Supreme Being created an Adam and Eve and so began the human race.
He cites this statistic as a reason for including creationism, along with Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, in public school biology classes.
By doing so, of course, Morris exposes the silliness in his own argument.
Humans believe in lots of stupid stuff. Ghosts. UFOs. Satan. Collateralized Debt Obligations.
Our ancestors believed that the sun was a flying God named Apollo. The Hopi, the Hindus, the Buddhists, the Mormons, and many other peoples have composed elaborately varying songs of creation. It is our nature, when looking out at the great twin expanses of space and eternity, to come up with comforting myths.
The alternative—”They give birth astride of a grave, the light gleams an instant, then it’s night once more”—makes for truly courageous literature, but too many sleepless nights.
Here’s a challenge for Mr. Morris, as we consider the seriousness of popular opinion. Name one great movie star who hasn’t played a supernatural being, or otherwise starred in a science fiction or fantasy flick.
The pop culture industry—that supposed font of liberal atheism—constantly fills our heads (and its bank accounts) with comforting imagery of dancing angels, talking pigs, kung fu pandas, star cruisers, zombies, cavemen riding dinosaurs, sensuous vampires, lost loved ones who linger as friendly spirits, comic book superheroes, cuddly aliens, prep schools for wizards, and cute beeping robots.
The Force is ever with us. When you add all that mythology to the pervasive influence of Sunday church services, religious schooling, and Christian rock radio, it’s a wonder that science can carve out any space in our culture at all.
Skeptical journalism? Well, consider U.S. News—which gives Mr. Morris and his superstitions equal time, in homage to “objectivity.”
And yet, we humans can compartmentalize. We may not want to weigh the pointlessness of life in every waking moment—there are too many fun things to do. But at some level we acknowledge that myths are myths and facts are facts and it’s better for the race if we keep the two things separate. The place for that is science class. And we need to keep it that way.
(CNN) — Environmentalists are encouraged by President Barack Obama’s focus this week on renewable energy and stricter emissions standards, although some economists are skeptical he can pull the country out of the recession while cleaning up the planet. Obama must strike a careful balance between stimulating the economy in the coming months and investing in the long-term future of the environment, said Raj Chetty, professor of economics at the University of California, Berkeley.
A new study shows that some of the most vulnerable babies are exposed to high levels of the chemical bisphenol A before they even leave the hospital.
Many manufacturers have taken BPA out of plastic baby bottles in the past year because of concerns that the estrogen-like chemical could harm young children. Studies have linked high levels in adults to heart disease and diabetes.
CDC researchers had detected BPA in more than 90% of Americans tested (read the pdf report).
If not, you’re not alone. It is an unfathomable amount of trash, approximately the SIZE OF CANADA, made up of millions of tons of garbage, mostly plastic, floating in vortex currents in the western Pacific Ocean. It is estimated that it causes the death of about 1,000, ooo sea birds and 100,000 mammals each year. Scientists are also watching another garbage patch (albeit smaller) off of Antartica, and a recently discovered one off the coast of Chile.
Wonder we we don’t hear about this in those TV commercials by the Plastics Council touting the wonders of plastic products…
“Shyness is nice, and shyness can stop you from doing all the things in life you’d like to,” Morrissey once sang. It’s a wonder that this classic Smiths song was never used in an ad for Paxil, the Prozac also-ran that GlaxoSmithKline successfully repurposed into a magic bullet for people with “social anxiety disorder,” a.k.a. shyness—now the third most common psychiatric disorder in America behind depression and alcoholism.
Bruce Falconer-Desperate times call for desperate measures. Nowhere is this more the case than with today’s commercial aviation business, whose slow death has been accelerated of late by the twin nightmares of soaring fuel costs and global recession. The price of oil is way down from last year, but the financial breather will inevitably be short-lived as scarcity of fossil fuels grows in years to come.
What’s a desperate airline to do? Charging for alcoholic beverages and checked bags won’t cut it. (Don’t expect these costs to vanish any time soon.) Nope, the only solution lies in experimentation with new fuel sources. Take Virgin Atlantic. Last year, Richard Branson’s airline made news by powering a Boeing-747 with fuel partially derived from oils extracted from babassu nuts and coconuts.
In a piece I wrote for Mother Jones prior to the Virgin flight, I reported on widespread speculation that Branson might also choose to test algae as a biofuel. He never did so, of course, and now Continental Airlines has beaten him to the punch.
From the BBC:
The 90-minute flight by a Continental Boeing 737-800 went better than expected, a spokesperson said.
One of its engines was powered by a 50-50 blend of biofuel and normal aircraft fuel.
Wednesday’s test is the latest in a series of demonstration flights by the aviation industry, which hopes to be using biofuels within five years.
The flight was the first by a US carrier to use an alternative fuel source, and the first in the world to use a twin-engine commercial aircraft (rather than a four-engine plane) to test a biofuel blend.