Signs & Portents

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Pagan News Beagle: Earthy Thursday, August 18

Is memory a reliable snapshot of the past? Can a transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy be done without sacrificing jobs? And does a habitable planet orbit our nearest stellar neighbor? These questions and more are tackled in Earthy Thursday, our weekly segment on science and Earth-related news! All this and more for the Pagan News Beagle!

Memory is a fickle thing. While we often assume a person's recollection of events can be trusted, the truth is that memory is somewhat plastic and subject to bias and reinterpretation. At Scientific American, various experts on the brain weigh in on why memories aren't totally reliable.

Anyone remember that weird star that was behaving abnormally and which some speculated might be indicative of an alien civilization? Well, astronomers still think it's probably a natural phenomenon but it's continuing to prove perplexing. Here's an update on the situation at Bad Astronomy.

Given the threats of air pollution, acid rain, and global warming it's clear that as a civilization we need to move off of our dependence on fossil fuels. The problem? Fossil fuels are cheap and millions of jobs are invested in their production and consumption, making winding down their use a politically difficult proposition. But maybe it wouldn't be as expensive to switch to green energy as is often assumed.

Sometimes you don't have to have an identity to be famous. One of the most famous individuals in history are anonymous, like Ötzi the Iceman, a mummy found in the Italian Alps that dates back to more than 5,000 years ago. But while we don't know who the Iceman is we can discern some details about his life from his remains, such as his clothing (which might also tell us about his lifestyle).

Since the 1990s, astronomers have been discovering exoplanets (planets located beyond our solar system) all over the place, leading to the conclusion that they're fairly common. But one oddity: they've never been definitively detected in our own stellar neighborhood. But that might have changed with an apparent detection around Proxima Centauri, the closest star besides the Sun to Earth.

Top image by Abengoa Solar

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Aryós Héngwis (or the more modest Héngwis for short) is a native of the Pontic-Caspian steppe, born some 5000 years ago, near the village of Dereivka. In his youth he stood out from the other snakes for his love of learning and culture, eventually coming into the service of the local reǵs before moving westward toward Europe. Most recently, Aryós Héngwis left his home to pursue a new life in America, where he has come under the employ of BBI Media as an internet watchdog (or watchsnake, if you will), ever poised to strike the unwary troll.


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