As partial responses to the cabin fever -- or even
real flu -- that
always seems to set in at this time of year, I offer two palliatives.
First, I just came across a copy of a survey of
important science news
in 1999 which some wag had annotated. Consider a few of the items
together with the additions:
- Researchers concluded that chimpanzees develop cultural traditions
much like those of humans -- late night TV high on their list.
- Bone flutes uncovered at a 9,000-year-old Chinese village included
the earliest known complete, playable musical instrument -- the first
- A spacecraft created an extremely detailed, three-dimensional map of
the Martian surface -- clearly showing the hole into which Lunar
- Astronomers found new evidence that the universe is flat --
confirming to many that the earth is flat as well.
- A new cloud-seeding technique showed promise -- but weeds infesting
the first crops.
- Teeth treated with a synthetic protein remained free of a
cavity-causing bacterium for more than 3 months -- dentists now picketing
- New evidence indicated that, compared with young adults, the elderly
experience a richer mix of emotions that they regulate more effectively
-- through large doses of Viagara.
- A new type of battery stored 50 percent more energy than an alkaline
cell -- Energizer bunny takes over the world.
- Mice engineered to make extra copies of a brain-cell protein showed
improved memory and learning skills -- moving them ahead of U.S.
- Computer scientists demonstrated that circuitry can redesign itself
to handle new tasks -- while we're yet to handle the old ones.
- Researchers used isotopes to trace monarch butterflies to
wintering sites in Mexico -- travel agents seek funding to replicate with
- An Oklahoma tornado set the wind-speed record, 318 miles per hour
Oz now facing overpopulation.
- Meteorologists...started factoring global warming into extended
forecasts -- bringing accuracy near that of the Farmer's Almanac.
- Scientists have begun analyzing data from hoofprints...and dung
for clues on how to save the world's most threatened rhino -- nearby
restaurants post hand washing requirements.
- IBM announced plans to build in 5 years a supercomputer 500 times
faster than any available today -- to be called HAL.
- Experimenters slowed light to a bicyclist's pace.... -- next
Meanwhile, this item appeared on the internet:
Football playoffs are also underway in the Animal
Kingdom and the
following episode occurred in the Supper Bowl game between the Big
Animals and the Small Animals.
The Small Animals were losing 26-0 by the time they
kicked off to
begin the second half. On the first play from scrimmage the elephant was
brought down for a gain of only one yard. On second down the hippo tried
the line again and was tackled for a two
yard loss. With third and eleven the giraffe, the Big Animals' coach,
substituted his best running back, the rhino, but he was downed at the
line of scrimmage. The Big Animals had to punt.
As the Small Animal defense trotted and bounded and
slithered off the
field, the snake, their defensive coach, asked who it was who downed the
"It was me," responded the centipede proudly.
"Who tackled the hippo?" asked the coach.
"I guess that was me too," answered the
The exchange continued: "Did you get the rhino
"Uh, yes I did."
"Great but where the hell were you in the first half
when we needed you?"
"Sorry coach, I was having my ankles taped."
Spring will be here in just a few months. I hope we
all make it.-- Gerry Rising