Month: February 2010

On the Wing

My front yard is roughly an acre square and takes about an hour and a half to cut on the yard tractor. A few summers back I had the wonderful experience of watching some special birds while cutting the grass. They were not very big just gently gliding along about 6 feet off the ground and didn’t seem the least bit bothered by my presence. Yesterday, that experience came back to me and I decided to Google, “Swift”. Can’t say for sure, but it seems pretty clear to me now that that’s what my visitors were on those warm summer afternoons. So, I spent a little time learning about these little guys. We in America have our own variety of these birds called the, “Chimney Swift”. Like most all swift species, they are born in little nests that their mom and dad build with their own spit (saliva) stuck to the sides of, well in this case, chimneys mostly. (ever heard of “bird’s nest soup”?) Chimneys that aren’t in use during the warmer months. When they are old enough to fly, they exit the nest and never touch the ground again until they are ready to build their own nest!…

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Boggles the Mind!

There are so many things about this universe that we live in that blow me away! The land we walk on, the house I live in, all the wonderful materials that man has been able to use to make things. Pine trees and oak trees, spruce, maple, rosewood and on and on provide building and cabinetmakers and even musical instrument makers with strong, durable and beautiful materials for use in make all sorts of useful things. Things that we depend on like telephone poles and books. Wood comes from those wonderful living things we call trees which give us shade and block the wind and even produce tasty fruit and syrup. The wood itself is composed of material left over from living cells that gave the trees their strength and let them grow to great heights. Even rocks and soil all around us are engineered to serve us in many useful ways. A little tar and gravel and you can make roads. Sand can be melted to make glass that lets us see the snow on the ground outside as clear as day even though we are inside dry and warm as can be. Even water in a plastic bottle…

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The Very Limited Scope of Science

Just what is science? What can it do for us? What can we do for it? At the most basic level, “science” is just a word. Seven letters that represent the latin word, “scientia” meaning, “knowledge”. Words are symbols for concepts. They help us communicate concepts. Things which help us share our thoughts, ideas, wishes, emotions, etc. with others. So, if “science” is a word or symbol that represents the concept of “knowledge”, then it is a fairly useful one. Especially if you see “knowledge” as a harvest of “responsible study” and a possible basis for “understanding”. In a practical sense, you could substitute the word, “knowledge” for “science” and maintain the original meaning. But, “science” has been transformed into something very different over the years. Today it is a symbol for an elite intellectual subculture. To become a member of what I call the, “scientific establishment” you generally need an “advanced degree” from a respected graduate school and be employed in your particular field of study. So, “science” has become something quite different in modern times. In seeking to redefine itself, “science” has left much of it’s emphasis on “knowledge” behind. Nowadays the focus is more on, “methods” and…

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