Animal legs! Weather extremes! Planet surfaces! Astronaut man! Dark things! Bee teams! Bio touch! And liquids that may or may not be of benefit to one and all! It’s your periodic Science Watch, where we watch science—without ever touching the ground!

  • The limbs of the earliest four-legged vertebrates were no more complex than the fins that they evolved out of, leading some headline writers to declare that this evolution was “simple.” I’ll tell you what’s simple: sitting in an easy chair, typing headlines on a computer, a big keyboard warrior. Do things, and don’t denigrate the doers.
  • Thanks to our old friend “the climate change,” we’re having more days of “extreme rain.” Call it “hard precipitation” or “staggering wetness” if you prefer, but the takeaway is the same—whether you call it “forceful waterfalling” or “extraordinary cloudbursts,” the fact is we’re having a greater number of days when we see it, no matter if it’s referred to as “notable deluges” or “big torrents.”
  • Some people are always looking down, mired in the day-to-day affairs of mankind; others gaze at the sky and wonder, “Why does Mercury’s surface appear so dark?” Those in the first group get into the good schools.
  • One Scott Kelly, U.S. astronaut, tells the news media that his legs “aren’t feeling good” after spending 340 days in the zero-gravity atmosphere of outer space. Readers may wonder what the kerfuffle is—after all, the real news would be if Mr. Kelly’s legs did feel good after extensive atrophying! Would it not? My intent here is simply to demonstrate the fact that a basic critical thinking exercise applied in the editing phase can prevent the publication of news stories that aren’t of any real use to anyone. We thank Mr. Kelly for being a good sport and playing along with our little teachable moment. His sacrifices for science won’t soon be forgotten, shriveled legs or otherwise.
  • A company has invented the darkest material on earth. It’s black.
  • In much the same way that Tamara and that bitch Jeanine team up to undermine your suggested theme for the spring office party (“Flowers in Bloom”—something all can appreciate), so too do parasitic mites team with the deformed wing virus to destroy the pupae of honeybees. Fuck you Jeanine!
  • Sophisticated new “bionic fingertips” can give the sense of touch to amputees. Hold your horses: do they really “give” the sense of touch? Or is it more proper to say that the hard work of many people created a situation in which amputees can again experience the sense of touch—at the expense of health insurance companies, themselves staffed by thousands of hardworking employees who rarely receive recognition? Wouldn’t that be a more accurate representation of what’s really going on here? And when will they make a bionic dick?
  • Drinking water is healthy. Does that mean not drinking water is not healthy? I’m not the one to ask; I’m no scientist. But I like to imagine that if a scientist was sitting here with me, I would turn to him with all deliberate speed and ask, “Is it true that if you take a space ship out into the far reaches of the galaxy you will find new planets with fantastical creatures?” I’m sorry, but your question was of secondary importance.

[Photo: AP]

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