I went to an enormous high school. We had over 1,800 students. It was a small town then, but kids were bused into our central school from all over the county for their secondary education.
The teachers didn’t know one another, let alone the students. In that atmosphere, I could sense a Chinese Wall between departments and, therefore, between subjects.
For example, one day, our biology teacher, Mr. Pollard, talked about the category of plants known as gymnosperms. He explained that the term meant “naked seed” in Latin.
He went on to say that “gymnos” means “naked” in Greek. He…
The “copper culture” lived near the Great Lakes and was among the world’s first peoples to forge metals. Discover why their culture moved on and how its discovery debunks racial stereotypes.
When I was in Grade 4, we learned a song from our music teacher. It went like this:
“Where we walk to school each day,
Indian children used to play,
All about our native land,
Where the shops and houses stand.”
Teachers thought they were being progressive by sharing this song about indigenous children with us. Contemporary readers will realize that it’s wrong on so many levels.
Lifeless matter could only have evolved into self-replicating molecules by growing more complex. Discover how destruction might make this counterintuitive process conceivable
Lemon, the yellow beagle I had as a small boy, wasn’t feeling well. It turned out that he had worms. I asked my dad how dogs get worms.
Dad explained that worms come from insects. Fleas and mosquitoes spread the eggs from one dog to another. So then I asked where the bugs got the eggs. Dad told me that they got them from other dogs.
Then I pointed out that none of that explains how dogs started…
The Big Bang Afterglow is known as the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB). Discover how combining CMB data with galactic observations is unlocking the secret of galaxy formation.
I’ve run into counterfeit currency a couple of times. In one case, when I was a travelling consultant, I came home from Nashville with a dodgy US fifty-dollar bill. My credit union sent it off to Ottawa to have it tested, and it turned out to be genuine.
Another time, I handed a cashier a Canadian fifty-dollar bill in a shop, and he insisted that it was counterfeit. …
I have mixed feelings about YouTube. The good news about the video site is that anybody can start a TV channel there. The bad news is that anybody can start a TV channel there.
There’s a tremendous amount of misinformation on the world’s largest video sharing platform. That’s true all over the web, but it seems as though YouTube is more influential than other online cesspools.
There are exceptions, of course, and one of the leading lights I’ve run across on YouTube is Sabine Hossenfelder. A theoretical physicist, she has a knack for explaining the seemingly incomprehensible.
Einstein said that…
Subjective memories are those vivid, emotional impressions we relive when recalling a past experience. Find out how they affect our decision-making and why they may not be in our best interest.
“We should be careful to get out of an experience only the wisdom that is in it and stop there, Mark Twain was fond of saying. “Lest we be like the cat that sits down on a hot stove lid. She will never sit down on a hot stove lid again, and that is well, but also she will never sit down on a cold one anymore.”
Air pollution has a cooling effect on the atmosphere, while greenhouse gases cause global warming. Find out why both emission types must be cut in combination to preserve our environment.
I get drawn into arguments more often than I probably should. Climate deniers, in particular, tend to raise my ire.
The science is settled. The climate crisis is real and caused by human activity. Yet, there are still a few people who cling to the notion that we have nothing to worry about from global warming.
One argument they often raise is that “carbon dioxide isn’t air pollution” They’re arguing…
The Universe’s expansion rate, the Hubble constant, is vital to understanding the Cosmos’ origin and fate. Find out how the latest technique for measuring the Hubble constant sheds new light on the past and future.
I was a travelling consultant for about twenty years, and I spent a significant part of that time sitting on airplanes. I was so at home on the planes that I even had a preferred seat.
I liked to sit beside the emergency exit if possible. …
My relationship with science has always been complicated. I’m a lifelong learner, and I’ve always been too curious for my own good.
When it comes to math, which is the hard sciences’ backbone, it’s been a bit of a roller coaster ride. I won the gold medal for business studies in high school. I could always figure out the answer if you put a dollar sign in front of it.
When it came to abstract math like algebra and trigonometry, it was a different story. Looking back, I don’t think it was because I lacked the aptitude for math. …
The bow and arrow is an ancient technology, and it takes great skill to make a bow. Find out what researchers discovered from interviews with expert bow makers from the hunter-gatherer Hadza people.
I grew up with the bow and arrow. I was the youngest of three boys, and for whatever reason, we all took an interest in archery growing up on the farm.
I started with a very light, green fibreglass bow. I moved up to a recurve bow in high school.
My roommate in college was also into archery. When he bought a compound bow, he sold me…
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