(Roughly) Daily

The miracle(s) of life…

The Barnados Threadsnake (Leptotyphlops carlae)

In the last issue of The New Yorker, Elizabeth Kolbert’s “The Sixth Extinction?” sounds an alarm.  Observing that of the many species that have existed on earth, more than ninety-nine per cent have disappeared, and that these extinctions have tended to come in waves– five of which were especially broad– she ponders the possibility that we are at the lip of the sixth great wave of species disappearance.

While there’s every reason to worry that Kolbert is right, one notes that new species are uncovered every year– even in periods of relative decline in diversity.  Indeed, Wired provides a nifty catalogue of “10 Strange Species Discovered Last Year.”

The forces of life and variety fight back!

As we celebrate the creative impulse (in all of it forms and products), we might recall that it was on this date in 1919 that Arthur Eddington confirmed Einstein’s light-bending prediction– a part of The Theory of General Relativity– using photos of a solar eclipse.  Eddington’s paper the following year was the “debut” of Einstein’s theoretical work in most of the English-speaking world (and occasioned an urban legend: when a reporter supposedly suggested that “only three people understand relativity,”  Eddington was supposed to have jokingly replied “Oh, who’s the third?”)

One of Eddington’s photos of the 1919 solar eclipse

Written by (Roughly) Daily

May 29, 2009 at 12:01 am

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