This is a fascinating article that is worth a read in spite of its length. We are going to be visiting a couple of the islands later this week. It is good for us to know more about the circumstances of the places we are visiting.
“Three years before Darwin’s arrival, a zoo’s worth of invasive species had become entrenched on Floreana. It is no accident that in the scientific literature, the earliest date for many invasive species is 1832. That’s when General José de Villamil, the first governor of the Galápagos Islands, arrived on Floreana to organize the penal colony. As Cruz—farmer, amateur historian, sometime bus driver and the largest landowner on Floreana—puts it, “He brought everything—goats, donkeys, cows, mules, horses, dogs, pigs, rats, everything.” Similar animal importations occurred on other islands in the Galápagos during the 19th century, with devastating consequences on the local flora and fauna. Villamil brought the mules and donkeys to haul tortoises down from the highlands. At the time of his visit, Darwin reported that a previous ship visiting Floreana had loaded up on 200 tortoises in a single day (other ships reportedly collected as many as 700 apiece, according to Darwin).”
“Humans don’t get a waiver from these waves of invasion, and their impact is increasing, too. In 1984 only 6,000 people total lived on five of the 129 islands and islets; more than 30,000 do today. And tourists? Three decades ago there were 20,000 a year; in 2016 there were 218,000. Just as more people began to come to the Galápagos to marvel at the local biodiversity, that biodiversity became increasingly threatened by the invasive species.”Credit: Mapping Specialists
via Could Genetic Engineering Save the Galápagos? – Scientific American
I wrote a blog in the past about CRISPR, and the ethical questions the use of this technology is going to bring up.
Consider this thought. If life on earth as we know it is going to be destroyed by some extraterrestrial event some time in the future, it is possible that such an event has already happened.
via A Nearby Neutron Star Collision Could Cause Calamity on Earth – Scientific American
“If that part of the story is true, it tells us that humans have actually been the selective agents, which [have] caused this evolutionary change in great tits.”
via Humans May Be Influencing Bird Evolution in Their Backyards – Scientific American
It is interesting to be able to observe changes like this happening even during human lifetimes, and to be able to understand the reasoning and the science behind these changes.
Fascinating article! I learned a new term from this article – Quantum Critical Point.
via A Quantum Pioneer Unlocks Matter’s Hidden Secrets – Scientific American
I followed one of the names mentioned in the article to find this short lecture on the topic.
A lingering question in my mind is about the energy consumed (be it in a cooling process, or in the application of high pressures, or in some other process) in creating these superconducting states and maintaining them for practical applications. Seems like that would be significant regardless of the efficiencies achieved once you get there. Is there not a trade-off involved? I do not remember any mention of this aspect in the article or the video.
“Albert Einstein didn’t like them.
To him, black holes were a bit of an embarrassment, as they compromised his dream of a “rational” nature, that is, natural phenomena that we could describe and quantify with the usual methods of science. According to this view, good scientific theories shouldn’t generate absurd (read: “irrational”) results.”
via Black Holes Orbiting Around Each Other Send Off Waves, : 13.7: Cosmos And Culture : NPR