February 8th, 2013

krazy koati

Flying through the little stars

I found this article in the science section --- any science section; I can't imagine editors turning this one down --- about how research has shown that dung beetles can use the Milky Way to navigate. I have to applaud the effort there. That's more than I ever do with the Milky Way. If you left it to me I'd probably let the whole galaxy clutter up the scary drawer above all the pots and pans, and maybe take it out just enough to feel guilty about how I should be using it more. Navigating would never cross my mind, much less helping dung beetles navigate, so it's good the beetles seem to have worked that out on their own.

The dung beetle navigation thing finally makes sense of a lot history, which is better than most history does for itself. You always imagined that people looked at Christopher Columbus funny for his refusal to adjust the heading until he'd had a flock of dung beetles on deck during a cloudless, moonless night, but he did all right for himself, and left his beetles in charge of Hispaniola while he was busy getting tried for treason.

And, as with last week, I invite you to go over to my humor blog for the conclusion of this little essay. I've also been putting up mostly short bits the other days of the week but didn't want to tax everyone's patience by harping on those too. Thank you, I hope.

Trivia: New York City formed the prototype for a highway department in 1764, when it began hiring road surveyors and laborers with wages paid from a general tax levy. Source: Gotham: A History Of New York City To 1898, Edwin G Burrows, Mike Wallace.

Currently Reading: Mathematics: From The Birth Of Numbers, Jan Gullberg. How did I forget about integration by trigonometric substitution? I love integration by trigonometric substitution!

PS: Arthur Christmas and the End of Time, as I had some heady thoughts about the long-term fate of the universe that I really, honestly, can't answer. But it's neat looking at.