Thursday, November 29, 2012
What I learned today
I've written here before about how I really hate reading the news these days, because so much of what is reported is so upsetting. Nothing has really changed on that front. But, some days, there are some interesting things to learn by browsing through a newspaper (yes, they do still publish those) or surfing a few news sites on the Internet.
In my reading today, I learned some very interesting things. Or, at least, they were interesting to me.
Yahoo! News informed me that the planet Mercury has water ice on its surface.
This seems a little counterintuitive considering that Mercury orbits the Sun at a distance of 29 million to 43 million miles, less than half the 93 million miles that separates the Earth from the Sun. Granted, even 29 million miles sounds like a long way, but the Sun is very hot.
The temperature extremes on Mercury are vast, with temperatures on the surface of the planet ranging from minus 279.67 degrees Fahrenheit to 800.33 degrees Fahrenheit. Minus 279F is surely cold enough to freeze water, but 800F seems about hot enough to vaporize it. The thing is, the poles of Mercury, where the ice was detected, rarely come out of shadows and remain very cold because the planet has no atmosphere.
The presence of water ice on Mercury has been suspected for a couple of decades, but the Messenger spacecraft that has been in orbit around the planet since last year, has reportedly confirmed its presence.
Back down on Earth, CNN is reporting that men in the Mideast are increasingly having surgery to enhance their moustaches. One plastic surgeon in Turkey claims to be doing up to 60 such procedures every month, while another plastic surgeon, this time in France, claims that men from around the Middle East fly in for the surgery.
The same report also says that moustache styles in Turkey have taken on a sort of second life as a political code, with the way a man wears his 'stache often indicating whether he is a conservative or a left-wing nationalist.
In another "who knew" story, it turns out televangelist Pat Robertson is not a young earth creationist after all. Young earth creationists believe that the planet has only been in existence a short time, generally between 6,000 and 10,000 years as opposed to the scientific consensus that the Earth is around 4.5 to 4.6 billion years old.
While answering a question from a viewer on his "700 Club" television show on Tuesday, Robertson acknowledged that some people were not going to be very happy with his answer before he said that dinosaurs clearly lived longer ago than 6,000 years, "before the times of the Bible," as he put it. "So," he is quoted by CNN as saying, "don't try to cover it up and make like everything was 6,000 years."
And last, but certainly not least, CNN also reports that the original Batmobile, created in 15 days by designer George Barris for the television series "Batman", which ran from 1966 to 1968, is going to go up for auction in January. The thing that makes the car unique is that it was the only one used in the series, making it unequivocally the original Batmobile. In most TV series and movies, several copies of a vehicle are created, making it difficult to call any of them "the original". Even more unique, Barris has been the only owner of the car, so it is difficult to say just how much bidders will be willing to pay for this particular piece of television history.
So...this is what I've learned today. What new piece of knowledge have you picked up today?