Alternative fuels

Having written about fossil fuels, it behooves me to also write about alternatives, lest I neglect my environmental duty. Besides, I have all these left-over notes … We use fossil fuels primarily for power generation and transportation. Huge strides have been made in reducing emissions, but scrubbers and catalytic converters don’t change the fact that …

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Fossil fuels

Our modern society is based on “fossil fuels,” which may sound to you like we’re burning dinosaur bones for heat. We aren’t, but we are burning the remains of plants and animals that lived millions of years ago, releasing the solar energy the plants captured through photosynthesis and the animals captured by eating the plants. …

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Allergies

A few years ago my father was informed by the doctor, after some tests, that he suffered from allergies: several, in fact, one of which was cats. Being the cat person that I am, and in view of the fact that at the time my parents still had Tiger, an old friend (with an admittedly …

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Hair

Hair has been much on my mind recently, probably because it keeps getting in my eyes. I grow it thick, and I usually put off haircuts until the last minute, so I’ve had plenty of occasion to wonder just what this stuff is that sprouts from our bodies and we spend so much time cutting, …

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Taste

  Taste is highly subjective. You may like rhubarb, which I regard as mutated celery. I, on the other hand, like haggis, whereas organ meats ground up with oatmeal and boiled in a sheep’s stomach may not appeal to you. And so on. Yet our tongues both respond to the same four (and only four) …

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Tears

  There are two kinds of people in the world: those who cry at movies and those who don’t. I freely admit I’m one of the former. I even cry during TV sitcoms. Heck, sometimes I even cry during commercials (only the really good ones, though). Just why some people cry more easily than others …

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Pens

I’m writing this on a computer powered by electricity and connected to a laser printer. For most of the several thousand years humans have been writing things down, though, the only computer in use was the moist gray one inside our skulls and the only printers connected to it to were the penta-digital ones at …

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Skyscrapers

  “One dark night, when we were all in bed, “Mrs. O’Leary lit a lantern in the shed, “And when the cow kicked it over, she winked her eye and said, “‘There’ll be a hot time in the old town tonight. Fire! Fire! Fire!’” This famous bit of verse doesn’t mention it, and somehow I …

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Migration

You know what it’s like: the alarm goes off, it’s dark, the wind’s howling, your nose is cold, there’s a snow drift on the windowsill, the radio is talking about icy streets and flesh freezing in 30 seconds, and you just want to pack up and get out of town. Yes, I know I wrote …

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Copernicus

This is not a great month for science anniversaries — but the one really big anniversary is a REALLY big anniversary: the 520th birthday of Nicolaus Copernicus. Copernicus brought forth the radical notion that the Earth was not the centre of the universe: that the Earth moved around the sun, instead of vice versa. The …

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Chocolate

North Americans eat 4.5 kilograms of it apiece per year. The Swiss, Belgians, Austrians and others eat even more. And given unlimited resources and no worries about looking like a blimp, I’d be happy to eat even more than that. “It” is chocolate, and most people agree with taxonomist Carl Linnaeus, who labelled the cacao …

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Hibernation

It’s finally spring (despite the fact that as I write this there’s as much snow on the ground as there has been all winter) and that means that many lucky creatures are just now waking up from their long winter sleep. Deep in burrows or caves, various ground squirrels, marmots, woodchucks, shrews, hedgehogs and bats …

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