10 Facts

color photograph of industrial...
color photograph of industrial...

After too many months of too much work and no spare time, the power is out, and now I have time to blog. Ah, the life of a scientist. We typically have more ideas than time. So for this blog entry, I'm making it quick. I'm just going to list 10 facts and let you figure out what it's about until I get to the end:

  1. The surface of the Earth is warming, primarily due to increases in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere prompted by human use of fossil fuels.

  • Natural gas is the least expensive means of generating gigawatts of electrical power.
  • Nuclear energy is the safest way to generate gigawatts of electrical power.
  • Last year, side effects from use of coal as a power source killed more people worldwide than terrorism.
  • You and bacterium Treponema pallidum share a common ancestor. That ancestor lived more than 1.7 billion years ago.
  • The sounds emitted by the heartbeat of a human fetus can be detected at 7 weeks.
  • The sounds emitted by the multiple hearts of an earthworm can be detected at 6 weeks.
  • The region of space we call "the universe" was the result of a rapid expansion of space that
    occurred between 13.4 and 14.1 billion years ago.
  • The Earth is between 4.39 and 4.69 billion years old.
  • Humans will become extinct.
  • So are you annoyed? I admit it, I did try to go out of my way to find facts that would annoy people. These aren't even controversial facts. I've expanded the error bounds to the 3-sigma level. None of these even approaches the "OJ is guilty" or "tax cuts/increases have a predictable effect on the economy" level of uncertainty. Even though these are facts, many of them are facts that get used or denied for political purposes. And because it's an election year in the U.S.A., we tend to assume that any statement is a political statement. Every fact is a fact with a hidden agenda. And most are beside the point.

    Politics are so polarized that even admitting to a fact is assumed to be a capitulation to the entire agenda of a political party. The alternative is denial of the facts, which is not something I'd recommend. Can't we agree on the facts first, and then talk about what, if anything, should be done about them?

    The final fact is just there to put it all into perspective.