I am constantly amazed at the stuff we come up with. Humans are no doubt the most creative and inventive species ever known (not counting the unknown; like the possibility of extraterrestrial life forms). In our known universe we can make pretty much anything happen it just takes someone to ask a question and then spend a lifetime trying to answer it.
What got me on this little path this morning was the Smithsonianmag.com website. This site will distract me for HOURS and is why I am posting a little late this morning. Today I learned what would have probably happened to Jack because Rose was too selfish to share the door and let go of him even though she said she would never let go (from the Titanic movie – just in case you never heard of the controversy). Anyway – there is a lot of science behind not only how Rose could have saved Jack, but what probably happened to Jack as he sunk to the bottom of the icy Atlantic. Jack became food. I mean we know that pretty much any animal that dies in any environment will become food for some other animal, but knowing what happens in the desert where we can observe it, and knowing what happens a mile or so under the ocean surface are two very different things. Our oceans are the last great frontier and as technology grows we are getting clearer pictures of what happens in places we normally can’t see.
Here is what happened to Jack because Rose didn’t save him; the title alone is what made me click on the link in the first place. I (and James Cameron – the director of Titanic) think that peoples fascination with Rose and Jack border on the extreme. It’s a movie. As James Cameron put it, “Jack HAD to die, that’s the story.” Again, I digress, back to science…
So if you click the link there you will see a video of a dead pig being reduced to nothing but bones in about 9 days on the ocean floor. They caged the pig so that large predators like sharks (and an octopus at the end of the video) couldn’t devour the pig in minutes instead it was sea lice and shrimps that did the dirty work in 9 days of feasting. Anyway, the point is that science has now allowed us to see what happens at the bottom of the ocean when something dies. It’s pretty much the same as when something dies on land (without the smell). Still though it fascinates me that someone had the question and set out to find the answer.
In another article I read about a woman who collects chewed gum, hair and cigarette butts, extracts the DNA from them, and then creates a portrait of the person who discarded the item. It is exceptionally creepy and fascinating at the same time. Creepy or Cool? Portraits Derived From the DNA in Hair and Gum Found in Public Places. Now we have known for some time now that we leave DNA on pretty much everything we touch. What we don’t often consider is the fact that if you spit your gum out on the subway (which if you do you are kind of an asshole because someone is going to step in it and you are going to ruin their day because you were too lazy to find a trash can) but anyway – that gum can be picked up by some random person and they can extract your DNA and create a picture of you for no other reason than to experiment with the stuff we discard everyday. Your stuff. Your biological stuff that you aren’t thinking about. That’s the creepy part. The cool part is this method is mainly used to solve crimes – you know how many mysteries have been solved because of a cigarette butt left behind by a murderer? Lots. It is also used to identify remains of people who either died long ago, or to identify missing people, or John and Jane Does who end up in the morgue with no one to claim them because know one knows who they belong to. I have never been creeped out by DNA until I read a story about some random woman picking stuff up off the street and creating these portraits The science behind it is amazing – but it definitely makes me think twice about what I throw away in public places. This woman’s curiosity and dedication to her project could transform how we collect and use DNA.
The next article that caught my interest is one that answers a controversy in my own life. In my home we have an argument about cleaning our ears with cotton swabs. I don’t do it. I don’t clean the inside of my ears. Stephanie thinks I am gross (but my ears aren’t dirty just so you know). As a kid I used to get really horrible ear infections and one doctor told my mom to stop cleaning my ears – I haven’t had an ear infection since (*knocks on wood*). There is science behind why we shouldn’t clean our ears – unless you are one of those people who produces so much ear wax that it interferes with your hearing, but then you are supposed to go to a doctor to get that out – not with a Q-tip or other handy instrument; my Mom used to use bobby pins – how crazy is that? Anyway – here comes the science Stop cleaning inside your ears – Its bad for you. I feel vindicated.
This is why I love science so much even if I don’t fully understand it all. If you have a question about anything in our world – there is probably someone out there using science to answer your questions. They say that no question is unique – there is always someone out there who has the same questions you have, but some people go beyond the question itself and work to find the answer. I love those people.
What scientific things have changed your views on the world? Do you have a favorite invention or study? What questions do you have that you would like to see answered someday?