Science Watch: Ancient Language Not Good For Anything

Mars canyon! Tree gold! Boomerang returns! Mouse immunity! Dark matter! Early humans! Old linguistics! And playing god, the fun way! It's your decrepit old Science Watch, where we watch science—with an eyebrow raised!

*What was it that shaped the meandering canyons of the Hebes Chasm on Mars? Was it asteroids? Spacemen? Shovels attached to some sort of rudimentary arms attached to creatures whose beliefs, culture, likes and dislikes we can only guess at? Did they sing songs as they worked? Does the concept of "music" even exist in their "society," if they have such a thing? What do they breathe? Is eating a pleasurable activity for them, or would the entire idea of taking organic compounds into whatever passes for a "mouth" horrify them, assuming that "horror" is a universal emotion and not just an Earth-specific construct? Was it erosion?

*Turns out that gum trees draw up particles of gold from the soil through their roots. Does this mean that chewing gum will give you gold teeth—for no money down? Cowed scientists refuse to say.

*"What Makes a Boomerang Come Back?" The fact that this post is on a so-called "science" site is galling. The answer is "physics," NOT science.

*Are you depressed? A grasshopper mouse? Cheer up, buddy, you're immune to the venom of bark scorpions. You're staying in school. You're not out there doing all the negative stuff.

*When you tell me that a "Highly Anticipated Dark Matter Update" is coming next week, I must ask, "Highly anticipated by whom?" Gawker.com readers? Whether it is or not, we won't be running an update on this item. We refuse to have the terms of our editorial content dictated to us.

*Everyone is arguing over what to call the earliest members of our genus. First of all—please!—stop arguing. Second of all, "But if not Homo sapiens, then Homo what?" Fuck off, troll. It's 2013.

*After the government shutdown, does anyone even care what NASA has to say?

*Linguist Andrew Byrd has reconstructed the language spoken by ancient Europeans more than 7,000 years ago. Here is a sample sentence: "H3rḗḱs h1est; só n̥putlós." That and two dollars will get you a cup of coffee. Andrew, get a real job, man.

*A certain strain of utopian futurist would like you to believe that one day mankind will simply replicate tissues and organs via 3-D printing. To them I say: print as much as you want. It won't make JoAnne love you again. Let's just say I know this for a fact.

[Photo: AP]