And now for something completely different, via KurzweilAI.net
Earth faces sixth mass extinction
19:00 18 March 04
"The crisis could be foreshadowing a sixth mass extinction, warn the researchers. Life on Earth has already seen five mass extinctions in its four billion year old history. The last one, which wiped out the dinosaurs, happened 65 million years ago at the end of the Cretaceous period and was possibly caused by a giant meteor collision.
The current extinction is being precipitated by the widespread loss of habitats because of human activity, according to Tefler. The remaining habitats are small and fragmented, and their quality has been degraded because of pollution.
This claim is strongly supported, at least for plants, by a second study published alongside Thomas' paper in Science. Carly Stevens of the Open University in Milton Keynes, UK, and her colleagues studied the diversity of plants in 68 grassland sites in the UK. The number of species in each site varied greatly, from a mean of 7.2 to 27.6 species per site. Nitrogen pollution was found to blame for this variability."
A little depressing for a Monday, I know. I did try to find and link the article in Science mentioned above on Staturday, but they want way to much to even see the summary. In fact, if any readers have access to the extinction article in the most recent issue of science, I'd really like to see a copy. I promise not to reproduce it (no violating copywrites, and the like), I would just like to get an idea of their methodology. My first inclination is to think that these are fairly limited studies, and I'm not sure they are robust enough to extrapolate the next great extinction. I don't doubt that this is a very real possibility; I just wonder if a couple of studies doen in England are enough evidence to reach that conclusion.
And, what to do if in fact we are facing a mass extinction? Let's just move to another dimension...
Popular Science | Journey to the 10th Dimension
"The basic point of what follows -- and by the way, what follows is not fanciful provocation but has been worked into contemporary consciousness by the brainiest physicists alive today -- is that everything that you have ever experienced has in some small but significant way been an illusion. Why? Because everything you have ever experienced you have understood as happening in three dimensions of space -- up-down, left-right and front-back. Yet this is not how things happen. Things happen in more than three dimensions of space; to see them in only three is to succumb to a trick that the universe is constantly playing on us."
Now that should make your Monday a little brighter! Albeit, a little more puzzling, but much better than that all that mass extinction talk.
[Side note: Can anyone tell me a quick way to indent? I think it would help readers know to what I've pasted v. my comments, but I haven't figured it out yet.]