Friday, July 18, 2014

The Great Moon Hoax, Dihydrogen Monoxide, and a Rambling Lemming

(From The Sun, via Wikimedia Commons, used w/o permission.)
(Lithograph of the "ruby amphitheater:" part of The Sun's coverage of Sir John Herschel's (alleged) observations of moon people. (August 28, 1835))

Sir John Herschel didn't actually observe bison, goats, unicorns, bipedal tail-less beavers and bat-winged people on the moon: but that's what folks reading The Sun saw in 1835. The Lemming isn't surprised that some of them believed the Great Moon Hoax.

Antoine Lavoisier, Joseph Louis Proust, and John Dalton had been laying the groundwork for atomic theory Georg Ohm was bringing the world closer to spin dryers and rolling blackouts; and János Bolyai and Nikolai Ivanovich Lobachevsky released non-Euclidean geometry on an unsuspecting world.

Folks who didn't know much about science or mathematics may have been ready to believe just about anything written about scientists. Don't laugh: 43 out of 50 folks signed a petition to ban dihydrogen monoxide not all that long ago.

Then there's the story about the moon being made of green cheese, and that's not quite another topic.

Space Aliens and a Nearly-Blind Octopus

Humans still haven't learned whether or not they're alone in the universe, but those overclocked primates are getting closer to an answer every year.

Guesses, educated and otherwise, keep popping up about why humans haven't found their neighbors, and what they'd look like: the space aliens, that is. Humans know what they look like: or should.

That critter isn't from another planet, by the way. It's a drawing of Cirrothauma murrayi, a sort of finned octopus.

Another name for Cirrothauma et cetera is The blind cirrate. That's cirrate, not curate: they're not British, you know. They really are blind, or nearly so: the octopuses, not British curates.

The octopuses — or is it octopi? — don't have much of a retina, and their eyes aren't equipped with lenses. A chap named Chun, Carl Chun, described the species in 1911.

Some humans say that they have so been visited by space aliens: lots of times. Maybe so, but the Lemming wonders if anybody could get bored enough to bother the natives with such remarkable regularity.

On the other hand, assigned to some back-side-of-nowhere maintenance station for an extended tour of duty? Maybe borrowing a short-range vehicle and buzzing cars - - - and that's definitely another topic.

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