NASA’s recent Dart mission to deflect an asteroid’s path, serves to illustrate just how precarious Earth’s existence is. We are at the mercy of what the Universe throws at us. Our atmosphere and magnetic field serve us well in protecting us from cosmic rays, eruptions of particles and energy from the Sun, and the small meteors that continually bombard us. The presence of large planets like Jupiter and Saturn in our Solar System act as protective big brothers, sweeping up any wayward asteroids that happen to pass by on the way to Earth.
At the start of September in Aptos, California, an elderly man slipped peacefully away, almost unnoticed. Aged 92, Frank Drake was one of the founding fathers of SETI ( search for extraterrestrial intelligence). Through his life’s work, he pioneered a scientific approach to a topic that in the early years, was seen as fringe at best and downright crazy at worst.
The placebo effect has to be one of the strangest phenomenon known to science. It is a measurable effect that is produced by a placebo pill or treatment that has been designed not to have any effect.
Recent reports in the press have highlighted the sad case of a 14 year old girl’s search for immortality and her fight to have her body frozen after her death. Her hope is that medicine will advance enough to allow her to be brought back to life, cancer free at some point in the future.
Ever since time immemorial humans have endeavored to extend our natural life span. In the middle ages, life expectancy was in the order of 40 years. By 1900 you could expect to live to around 59, and today average life expectancy has reached 80 years give or take. The oldest human that ever lived has reached 122 years and the annual rate of mortality amongst any given age bracket e.g. over 80’s continues to fal
I was struck the other day by the number of tiny red “blood suckers” crawling around on my window sills and walls. It seems to me that I haven’t seen these tiny creatures in years, or maybe I just haven’t noticed them. Squishing them and the red streaks they leave are a distinct nostalgic memory from childhood summers along with Soda Stream, Wimbledon and rounders.