Archive for December, 2008

A Martyr to — What?

December 28, 2008

A classic line in Anthony Gottlieb’s review (“Particle Man”) of Ingrid D. Rowland’s biography of Giordano Bruno: Philosopher, Heretic which we will also – eventually – review over at the HCL Blog:

“Bruno was a martyr to something, but four centuries after his immolation it is still not clear what.”


Fire and Ice

December 18, 2008

“Did Early Global Warming Divert a New Glacial Age?” asks an intriguing little article in today’s Science Daily. “The common wisdom is that the invention of the steam engine and the advent of the coal-fueled industrial age marked the beginning of human influence on global climate,” they report. “But gathering physical evidence, backed by powerful simulations on the world’s most advanced computer climate models, is reshaping that view and lending strong support to the radical idea that human-induced climate change began not 200 years ago, but thousands of years ago with the onset of large-scale agriculture in Asia and extensive deforestation in Europe.”

Moreover, if we grant credence to these simulations, it may well be that “the cumulative effects of thousands of years of human influence on climate is preventing the world from entering a new glacial age, altering a clockwork rhythm of periodic cooling of the planet that extends back more than a million years.”

It’s an interesting hypothesis, backed by some illuminating evidence, and well worth a quick perusal.

The Economy

December 7, 2008

If you’re concerned about present economic trends, and puzzled as to what can be done to change the course of the economy, Bruce Bartlett, writing in Forbes magazine, offers an excellent commentary on the current state of affairs, its similarities and differences from previous economic crises (e.g. the Great Depression), and possible remedies that may prove efficacious. In a succinct two-and-a-half pages, he makes much good sense.