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Shut Up and Listen to the Birds
Also, guess who's going back to the moon?
I'm headed out to visit family first thing Friday, and that's made for a busy week. So this is a short post.
I'm also going to take next week off and if you can, I recommend the same. Get away from your computers and phones and spend some time with family and friends.
The fun starts below that big, beautiful, share button.
After two delays, NASA's Artemis finally launched in the wee hours of Wednesday morning.
Artemis represents the first step in NASA's return to the moon. If all goes well, they'll send a bunch of robotic landers up there in 2023 and a crew in 2025. Eventually, they'll establish a permanent base up there.
Apollo 11 landed on the moon at 4:17PM, Sunday, July 20, 1969. Even though I was just short of five-years-old, I remember the moment because we were on a ferry from the Statue of Liberty back to Manhattan, and the captain announced it over the P.A.
From there, we made it to the moon five more times and… stopped.
It’s 2022, and a moon base is still the stuff of science fiction. Why has it taken so long to get to this point?
Now, there are many other things we could spend the money on, and that's an issue science fiction should deal with. A fully realized world that has Epstein drives must have people that were forgotten while scientists invented it, corporations flew it to build mines in the asteroid belt, and the business owners neglected the miners they brought there. (Note: I'm not crazy about those articles, but they get the point across. Read the books, they're better than the show.)
Meanwhile, back on Earth we're making so much noise it's interfering with birds' ability to communicate with each other That's right, here's another reason to hate that jackhole down the block that stands there with his leaf blower pushing around the same 17 leaves for an hour.
I love birds. (What kind of horrid person doesn’t?) We have a bunch of bird feeders in the yard, and I love watching them in the morning over a cup of coffee. So I found this story both troubling and comforting.
The article does a better job explaining than I could:
As the scientists expected, house wrens tended to sing with higher-pitched sounds in places with more anthropogenic noise. But that’s not all they discovered.
They also found that, in general, the size of the birds’ repertoire decreased as anthropogenic noise increased, especially when the birds were exposed to levels of anthropogenic noise that were above the usual noise to which they were accustomed. The researchers observed the same pattern at the individual level: The same bird offered a smaller song repertoire on noisier days than on less noisy days.
A reduced repertoire can affect how well these birds learn their sound language, as songbirds need to hear themselves and other birds to crystallize their song. “What’s happening here is that they’re losing some of their vocabulary, some of their sounds, because they’re not producing them. And, in these species, juveniles need to listen to adults to learn how to sing,” says Sandoval Vargas.
It's amazing to see how adaptable nature is, despite our best efforts to destroy it. It's also fun to imagine how else it might evolve to compensate for the mess we're making.
On that cheerful note, have a good Thanksgiving, or a great "why-is-it-so-quiet-oh-the-Americans-are-watching-that-dumb-game" Thursday, and see you on the 29th.
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