Recently I told a true story about a housemate of mine from Nigeria who was visiting Seattle for a couple months. The story was told a coffee shop open mic called Fresh Ground Stories. Here is a link to the 8 minute audio on Soundcloud. Here is an article with more about Fresh Ground Stories, and other story-telling opportunities in Seattle. FGS is hosted by the incomparable Paul Currington.
Hi-Ho skeptoids! The recording of a lecture that I gave I gave a couple weeks ago to a Seattle Skeptics Dinner is available. The major topic was elephants, and a blogged about this a few days ago, and included links to some of the sources and videos which were shown at the dinner.
But before the main presentation, I discussed a few other topics related to skepticism. Let me say first that, particularly in the beginning this talk, was really more of a conversation than a lecture. Here is a link to the recording, if you want to check it out.
So, while you're listening to the recording, I thought I'd clarify a couple of my statements and offer a couple of corrections.
Here is the link for "Friday night at the Meaningful Movies," in Seattle.
The film was called "How to Make Money Selling Drugs." Here is the trailer:
Here is a link for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.
Take 'im off the shelf, should have been "Talk 'im off the ledge."
Below is a link to part 1 a video of the "Best of Sam Harris," I admire the clarity and calm demeanor with which he delivers his arguments.
The Unpersuadables (The full title is The Unpersuadables: Adventures with the Enemies of Science) by Will Storr can be purchased from from Amazon at this link.
Boy, I really garbled this one. What I was trying to say is that in an unbiased test that you will get false positives or false negatives, simply because of statistical probability. An example is that if you flip a coin five times in a row, there is a statistical possibility that you will get five heads in a row. Actually, the exact probability, in a fair coin, of getting "heads" is 1 in 2X2X2X2X2 trials--or only once in 32 groups of 5 coin tosses--a pretty unlikely event. The way to obviate this is to increase the sample size. For example, if you toss a fair coin 6 times in a row the probability shrinks to once in 64 tosses. So, applying this to the highly-selected homeopathic studies, the higher the sample size, the less significant the data were. My statement that "for a percentage of the time you would expect your data to not support your hypothesis" was erroneous, very sloppy, logic. What I was trying to say is that "for a percentage of the time, you would expect your data to not support the UNDERLYING REALITY--just like the coin tosses. Sorry about that. I'll try and be more accurate next time. BTW, here is a link to the definition of type I and type II statistical errors if you want to learn more.
Here is the text of the quote from Will Storr's book:
Stories work against truth. They operate with the machinery of prejudice and distortion. Their purpose is not fact but propaganda. The scientific method is the tool that humans have developed to break the dominion of the narrative. It has been designed specifically to dissolve anecdote, to strip out emotion and leave only unpolluted data. It is a new kind of language, a modern sorcery, and it has gifted our species incredible powers. We can eradicate plagues, extend our lives by decades, build rockets and fly through space. But we can hardly be surprised if some feel an instinctive hostility towards it, for it is fundamentally inhuman.
Here is the short "preview" of an epigenetics lecture that I might give in the future:
The discussion was a little hard to hear, but what it was about was a comparison between Lamarckism and epigenetic change. If you're interested, here is a link that explains the differences.
The discussion was about the limits of scientific "proof." Actually, science doesn't really "prove" anything, it just leads to increasing liklihood of identifying truth. Here is a good video from Qualia that explains this concept clearly.
Here is a link to Phil Plait's arguments against the idea that the Apollo Program was a hoax.
This is where the actual talk about elephants began. For links related to this I refer you to my previous blog post. And, as I made clear in the audio, I don't know a dang thing about elephants. I am in no way am I an expert. So, feel free to disagree with everything I say.
In fact, feel free to disagree with anything I say EVER! What do I know? Do ya think?
Tuesday of last week I gave a talk to the Seattle Skeptics Meetup dinner (Sorry, the link only works for Meetup members) called "A Skeptic Looks at ELEPHANTS." This is a follow-up blog post containing some of the info and links from the talk.
A couple months ago I blogged about the possibility of crows showing behavior resembling a funeral ritual. I discussed this with caveats about the dangers of analyzing of animals by applying human standards, known as anthropomorphism. But what of elephants? Do elephants have funerals? Do they have feelings? How intelligent or altruistic are they? Are there elephant artists? Should they be afforded the same ethic standards that we apply to humans? Or, is this all just anthropomorphising?
First, let me say that I think elephants are one of the coolest critters in the world. It is hard to imagine that Mastodons wandered around in North America up until about 10,000 years ago and wooly mammoths did not become extinct until about 4,000 years ago. Contrast that with dinosaurs, which disappeared about 60 million years ago. In fact, human hunting is thought to be a major contributor to the demise of both species. Too bad. I think it would be neat to have elephant-like animals in my back yard (Well, maybe not.).
But we still have elephants, the largest land animals in the world. I highlight elephants, because, it seems to me, to be one of the harder examples of animals to be dismissive of what appears to be human-like behavior. Here's an excellent article from Scientific American Magazine about elephants that I recommend.
An interesting aside, when I was researching this topic, I learned of a new word (DYT Blog readers know how much I love words)--the opposite of anthropomorphism-- "theriomorphism," i.e. to ascribe animal characteristics to humans (Quit acting like an ape, ya knucklehead. She eats like a bird!).
So, what of elephants? In what ways do they resemble humans?
For one thing, they're very intelligent. Proportionate to body size, elephant brains are very large, and seem to be organized similar to humans. (Note: This proportion is a pretty crude, and sometimes misleading, indication of intelligence. More info here.) In terms of intelligence, elephants seem to be comparable to cetaceans (whales and dolphins), corvids (crows, ravens, magpies and jays), and non-human primates. Elephants have a strong sense of community, in a matriarchal system. They also have high levels of what appears to be emotional intelligence, with strong senses of empathy and altruism, possibly even across species. Here's a Wikipedia link on elephant cognition, which lists a wide variety of abilities, "...including those associated with grief, learning, allomothering, mimicry, play, altruism, use of tools, compassion, cooperation, self-awareness, memory, and language." Wow! Quite a list. I really had no idea, when I started researching this topic, that elephants had that many skills.
Check out the video below, where, Kandula, an elephant at the National Zoo figured out how to use a cube to reach food that was suspended just out of reach overhead. This shows pretty good evidence of creative problem-solving and tool using skills, but elephants have a lot more indications of higher
Here's an interesting experiment. A device was constructed that allowed elephants to receive a reward if two elephants operated a pulley device. (Watch the video below to see how exactly it was designed.)This measured not only problem-solving skills, but their ability to cooperate.
Something I didn't know before looking into this topic is that elephants can be parrots; i.e. they can be mimics, that, with a little help from their trunks, emulate human speech. Check out the video below.
Here's a link to another interesting video of a scientist studying elephant communication through ground vibrations.
Below are some videos showing examples of supposed elephant "art" that set my skeptic-sense tingling. Have you ever heard of elephant painting? How about an elephant orchestra? Below are three videos of so-called elephant "art." And, not to be outdone, one example of dolphin "art."
So, what do I make of all this? I really can't see a lot of evidence of creativity, which is the hallmark of art. What I do see are well-trained elephants. I was going to do a lot more digging on this topic, but Snopes has already done most of the grunt work for me. I will say though that I'm mightily impressed by the dexterity of their trunks! I think this is pretty much a harmless way to mine for tourist souvenir dollars, but I'm dubious that this indicates real creative, i.e. artistic, expression.
In contrast, I'm a little less doubtful of the possibility of elephant funerals. Apparently, elephants have been known to remain near a dead companion for a long time after they expired. Here is an account from the Wikipedia article cited above.
Elephant researcher Martin Meredith recalls an occurrence in his book about a typical elephant death ritual that was witnessed by Anthony Hall-Martin, a South African biologist who had studied elephants in Addo, South Africa, for over eight years. The entire family of a dead matriarch, including her young calf, were all gently touching her body with their trunks, trying to lift her. The elephant herd were all rumbling loudly. The calf was observed to be weeping and made sounds that sounded like a scream, but then the entire herd fell incredibly silent. They then began to throw leaves and dirt over the body and broke off tree branches to cover her. They spent the next two days quietly standing over her body. They sometimes had to leave to get water or food, but they would always return.
Apparently, reports like these are not at all uncommon. Check out the video below. Although the camera-placement, and enhanced spooky music suggest it is a bit staged, I think it conveys the idea that elephants are pretty curious about this dead body of their own kind.
Are elephants afraid of mice? Below is a video that kind of surprised me. The guys of Mythbuster's fame tested this and found this possibility "plausible." Check it out. What do you think?
My take is that, this can be criticized on several different levels: 1) a test with a brown mouse might have been preferable, 2) The test may have been repeatable, but it looks like they only tested one or two elephants, and 3) It's not at all obvious that the elephants didn't shy away simply because they were startled by by rapid movements not at all specific to mice (elephants have poor eyesight.) But hey, they did do a control with they empty dung ball, and they did repeat the experiment, and they illustrated the idea that when you do an experiment, you don't always get the expected outcome. I also give them credit for stating that the legend of mouse-fearing elephants is "plausible" rather than "definitive." I find their result intriguing.
I concluded my talk with a discussion of the ethics of keeping elephants in zoos and circuses. This is a tough call for me. I encourage the reader to give some thought about the ethics of keeping such large, intelligent, animals in a zoo enclosure, or transported from city to city to perform in circuses. Here's an article that lists the pros and cons of Zoos. Zoos have done a lot of work to try and preserve species through captive breeding programs. There are more tigers in captivity now than in the wild. In addition many zoos have worked to create a more humane environment for the animals, providing more space and trying to preserve family structures--very hard to do with elephants, given their complex family structure and large size. Zoos educate the public, particularly important in cities where nature is scarce. I think the experience of seeing and elephant or a polar bear in a zoo can go a long way toward creating an appreciation and public awareness for natural history, and may encourage the preservation of ecosystems and even mitigation of the global climate change crisis. In other words, one might invoke a "greater good argument." reminiscent of arguments justifying the use of animals in medical research for the greater good of benefiting human beings, in developing an understanding of, or even cures, for disease. Similarly, it may be defensible to keep charismatic zoo and circus animals for the benefits accrued in public entertainment and education. But, to re-state my position, this is a tough call for me, and I would hope that zoos would provide as ideal and humane an environment for the animals as possible.
A few years ago this was a prominent local issue in the Seattle area when a baby elephant died in the local Woodland Park Zoo. I invite you to check out the local news coverage if you want details.
So, that is the basic outline of my talk. I really feel like it would take a lot more than a one hour talk to do this subject justice. I haven't read this book,
"The Elephant's Secret Sense: The Hidden Life of the Wild Herds of Africa," by Caitlin O'Connell, but it seems quite highly regarded by reviewers at Amazon, if you want more info. Maybe I'll read that next.
Deepak is at it again. A few weeks ago I blogged about a fave word coined by Orac, "Choprawoo." Well, a couple days ago I came across a challenge to James Randi's Million Dollar challenge issued by Deepak Chopra that is so obviously stupid that I can hardly believe it. I was going to blog about it at length, but before I got a chance, Jerry Coyne beat me to it. In fact, Jerry did such a nice job that I'm not going to even try to top his eloquence. Just go and read it yourself. Thanks, Dr. Coyne, for saving me the trouble. I'll say this much, Deepak is right in the video below, I thought the writing on his shirt translated as "Kick me, I'm a moron." I guess I was wrong.
Just a heads up for my fellow frog fans. Nature is airing a documentary on frogs on June 25th. YAY! Here is a description from the website.
Sir David Attenborough takes us on a journey through the weird and wonderful world of frogs, shedding new light on these charismatic, colorful and frequently bizarre little animals through first-hand stories, the latest science, and cutting-edge technology. Frogs from around the world are used to demonstrate the wide variety of frog anatomy, appearance and behavior. Their amazing adaptations and survival techniques have made them the most successful of all amphibians.
Don't miss it!
I'm delighted with the performance of my short comedic play "Waiting For Boa" in the Writer's and Actors Reading and Performing (WARP) showcase of plays "WARP Springs a Gnu." which just completed half it's run at the Seattle Center Theater 4. My play which was directed by John Paul Sharp and Jason Dooley, and stars Brendan Mack and Julian Garcia as the rats Elmo and Ben, Joshua Moore as the snake and Beatrix Turner-Rodriguez as the hand and voice.
This was based on a true story. Several years ago I visited my cousin and her young son owned a caged boa constrictor. Next to the cage was another cage containing Snakie's prospective dinner--a couple of caged rats. What were the rats thinking? What was Snakie thinking? There are two performances left. If you live anywhere near Seattle, you might want to check out one of the two remaining performances on Saturday May 17th at 8Pm or the final show Sunday May 18th, a matinee at 2PM. Here is a link to more ticketing info.
Below are some pics taken by Carl Nelson of the first performances.
About a year ago I blogged about De-extinction, a process to try and resuscitate several extinct animals, by replacing the DNA in oocytes of existing, but closely related species with archival DNA from extinct critters. You can read the blog entry at this link. Basically my misgivings were the following:
"1)I don't believe that any of these creatures should be released into the wild. Repopulating North America with semi-pseudo wooly mammoths or frankenfrogs? Bad idea. 2)I really wonder what conclusions can be drawn from the possible results of these experiments? Can we ever draw definitive conclusions about the behavior and biology of these "resurrected genomes?" Even the Dolly experiments, using donor eggs from the same species, resulted in adult animals with serious health problems and I expect that using donor eggs from differing species will result in even greater deviations from normal adults.
My thinking really hasn't changed a whole lot, but now, in celebration of Mother's Day, I highlight the following video, which spells out disproportionate contribution that our moms make to our genetic makeup, which provides more ammunition to my argument that these frankencritters are likely, at best, to be little more than curiosities about which conclusions will always be suspect. Agree, or disagree, one thing we can all agree on is that moms are awesome. Happy Mothers Day!
There's been a bit of a flutter through the internet recently about the possibility of crow "funerals." Hm, funerals, huh? But what, exactly, is meant by "funeral." It has been observed, and is not disputed, that members of the corvid family, which includes crows, jays, magpies and ravens, seem to gather around a dead bird of their own species and vocalize. Several explanations for this behavior are possible: 1) to warn other birds of possible danger, 2) bringing attention to fellow birds of a change in hierarchy, 3) exploring the possible causes of death, or, possibly, 4) an individual or group expression of grief. It is very easy to compare these behaviors to human equivalents, such as grieving, but, then again, it is also difficult to definitively rule out such comparisons. Since humans evolved as certainly as other animals, why is it unreasonable to suppose that some critters haven't evolved the same emotions? The fancy term used to ascribe human form or characteristics on anything besides humans, such as gods or animals, is anthropomorphism. Actually, I'm rather fond of this myself, as evidenced by the number talking animals in my plays. It's no mystery why fundamentalist religious folks often portray God as a bearded father-figure. On the topic of crow funerals, I invite you to check out this funding drive initiated by a University of Washington lab to explore what areas of the brain are stimulated during this funeral-like ritual. This might lead to clues about what the birds are actually thinking. If you are interested, you might also want to check out other possibly worthy scientific projects seeking funding, using a model similar to kick starter, at this link.
There might, in fact, be a number of emotions that humans share with other animals. This article from Yes Magazine, seems very sympathetic to this idea "Many animals also display wide-ranging emotions, including joy, happiness, empathy, compassion, grief, and even resentment and embarrassment." But, there is still the danger of over-interpretation. For example, there is evidence showing that the evident "guilt" shown by dogs for their misbehavior might simply be a response to scolding.
A similar problem to anthropomorphizing emotions is to try to superimpose human standards of intelligence on animals. This article examines the challenges of studying crow intelligence. Are humans less intelligent than birds because we might be challenged to build a nest? It has been shown that some dogs can be trained to identify traces of cancer in human urine. I can't track down the quote (I think it was E.O. Wilson), but to paraphrase, "When it comes to the sense of smell, compared to dogs human beings are idiots."
Another anthropomorphic "trap" is to try to apply human morals to animals. Here is a list of 11 animals that, like many humans, tend toward monogamy. But, I think, it is important to note that monogamy or polygamy are probably just different survival strategies, not extensions of morality.
Given the complications of evaluating animals on the basis of emotions, intelligence, or morality, how does one prudently examine animal behavior? I think the best approach is to fall on fundamental evolutionary principles and objective laboratory instrumentation. Do these, often ritualized, animal habits or learned behaviors confer some reproductive or survival benefit? How can this be understood? How could this be measured? What I like about the UW crow project is that it utilizes scans (I believe they are Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scans.) to try to identify which areas are activated, although I have some qualms about whether a laboratory study is truly representative about what might happen in the field.
A few years ago I was surprised to observe a leucistic crow in my neighborhood of West Seattle. Leucism, which is a rare mutation in a variety of different animals, results in "paleness," that is, diminished pigment, in contrast to albinism, another mutation resulting in the complete absence of pigment, i.e. white animals with pink eyes. The local leucistic crow, dubbed "Leucy" by the local media, died in a heatwave a few years ago.
I have some personal history regarding a bird behavior study from my undergraduate years. At Southern Illinois University there was a fairly eccentric professor who developed this hypothesis that owls engage in what he described as "prey-thawing." His belief was that owls use their body heat to thaw out frozen road kill, and thus were distracted by this task enough to often become road kill themselves. The Professor proposed this to me as a potential grad school thesis project. Unlike the UW project, he seemed uninterested in trying this in a laboratory setting. My response: "Lessee, you want me to kill a rabbit, freeze it, and put it on the side of the road, wait for an owl to happen by, who 'might' sit on the dead rabbit, and then I should wait for a passing truck, who 'might' kill the owl, and you want me to do a statistical evaluation of this phenom? His response: "Yep." My response: "Well, Professor, if I find anyone interested in this kind of project, I'll be sure to send them your way." As soon as I left his office I couldn't contain my laughter. I could just imagine myself, sitting in my car at the side of the road in freezing cold...staring at a dead bunny for hours at end ...waiting ...waiting...waiting--I don't think so. Maybe in my next blog entry I'll consider why owls are considered wise, or why swans are considered symbols of enduring love. But for now, let me leave you with the promotional video from the UW project and a couple of vids reputing to show magpie and raven funerals.
Last week I was interviewed by Morgan Dusatko about skepticism and skeptical issues--a pretty broad topic. Here is a link if you want to check it out. I'm featured mostly in the first and third segments. Here is a link to several entertaining podcasts from Morgan's Martini Hour.
The although the conversation drifted, we circled around a few times to the topic of vaccination. This is much-traveled ground for skeptics, and I assume that most readers of this blog know that a lot of naive people were (and still are) confused by the onset of autism which correlates with the regimen of vaccinations administered to children. The beginning of this panic is traceable to the fraudulent publications by a British physician Andrew Wakefield. The long, sad, story of Wakefield is beautifully illustrated in cartoon form by Darryl Cunningham. Everyone loves cartoons--so go check it out. I'll wait. Unfortunately, a few celebrities, notably Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey were convinced that vaccines are dangerous, and their anti-vaccine views are now running rampant. The issue has devolved from a public health issue to, supposedly, a civil rights issue, with many people now exercising their rights to refuse vaccination resulting in a reduction in our immunity and a resurgence in some serious diseases. Let's not pull any punches, people have DIED because the anti-vax movement. For more info about the vaccine controversy I suggest the wikipedia entry on vaccine controversies--which I think is a pretty good general summary.
On the podcast, I told the co-host, Shannon, that I would try and explain the basis of vaccination. I think the host, Morgan, as he explained it, didn't want to get "too deep into the weeds" regarding the topic, which is understandable. After all, it's an entertainment show, not a science show.
The story of vaccines started with Edward Jenner, who in the 18th century, long before the discovery of germ theory with it's champions Louis Pasteur and Robert Koch. At the time smallpox was a devastating disease, but it was noted that if you survived smallpox, you never developed it again. Although they didn't understand the details then, our immune system, once it recognized the "bug" would prevent us from developing the disease. This led to attempts in Jenner's day at treatment in a process called "variolation" to actually infect patients with a mild case of smallpox to prevent onset of the full-blown disease. It didn't work very well. Dosing was a problem. Sometimes the variolation was inadequate, other times it led to smallpox. But, the observant Dr Jenner, noted that milkmaids often were immune to smallpox. In fact, many were employed as nurses for smallpox victims. It turned out, to make a long and fascinating story short, that the milkmaids were often infected with certain forms of cowpox that they caught from milking cows. So, Jenner treated an 8 year old, James Phipps, with cowpox (called "vaccinia") and then inoculated him six weeks later with smallpox. (This experiment is of dubious ethics and certainly would not be approved in this way today.) The boy survived and Jenner is said to "have saved more lives than any other human." Smallpox has now been eradicated from the planet in 1977. And there are ongoing efforts to eradicate polio.
So, how does it work? In simple terms, the cowpox virus has a region similar in shape on the surface of the smallpox virus. Once our immune system recognized cowpox it could repel smallpox. More recent vaccines use harmless chunks of the pathogen to stimulate the immune system, thus using our own bodies' immune systems to prevent us from getting sick. The reason it is harder to develop vaccines for the common cold and AIDS is because these viruses tend to change. It's really that simple.
One problem that is feeding the antivax movement is that we're forgetting how effective vaccines are. Here's a list provided by the Center For Disease Control of vaccine-preventable diseases. It's quite a list. My advice to anyone under 50 years old, who perhaps has never seen it, is to ask an older person just how devastating a disease that polio can be. It was a disease that not only paralyzed its victims, but paralyzed society with infectious fear. So, if you bring your child to the doctor, instead of complaining about the number of vaccines that your child is subject to, I recommend that you feel grateful for the number of deadly diseases they prevent.
In summary, let me reiterate what I told Shannon at the recording session, I'm really glad you and your husband made the decision to have your child vaccinated. Now I'm going to gross you out a little. Below are three pictures showing, left to right, the devastating effects of smallpox, polio and whooping cough (Pertussis).
I hope Shannon, for the sake of society, and the sake of our children, that more parents make the same decision that you did. Thank you.
Some time ago I argued that life on other planets is not only possible, but, I think, likely. This conclusion is based on two facts 1) Life is incredibly diverse and adaptable. The existence of extremophiles, organisms that can survive under extreme conditions, and the amazing hardiness of critters like water bears, indicates that life might survive seemingly inhospitable environments found on other planets; and 2) The expansion of the number of exoplanets that have been discovered in the last few years, which is one of the most breath-taking scientific advances in my lifetime, provides ample possibilities for the emergence of life.
But, of course, until life on other worlds is confirmed, this remains speculative.
So, what's new? Recently, NASA has announced the confirmation of 715 new planets, orbiting 305 stars bringing the total planetary count to nearly 1700. There are also several thousand candidate planets awaiting confirmation. Yowza, that's a lot of new ground. Interestingly, as the below chart indicates, most of the newly-confirmed planets are not too distant in size to Earth.
Also intriguing, is that most of planets seem to be part of planetary systems; i.e. multiple-planet star systems like our own Solar System.
Even more exciting is the discovery of several new planets that occupy the "habitable zone," which is defined as planets that have the right temperature to have liquid water on the surface. Below is an artists depiction of habitable zone worlds, from the Planetary Habitability Laboratory at the University of Puerto Rico at Arecibo, which was recently featured on NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day. It is also possible, since several of these worlds orbit the same star, that star systems with multiple habitable planets are common.
So, whither goest the Kepler telescope project? They've had some challenges lately. Two of the four reaction wheels that control the direction that the telescope points have become inoperative. They could still operate with only three, but with only two viable controllers, the project seemed dead-in-the-water. But, the clever folks at NASA have devised a solution. Using solar pressure in conjunction with the two functioning wheels they will be able to continue the search in what they describe as the K2 phase of the project. If, like me, you're a Keplerholic and want to see even more check out the Kepler image gallery.
But, the Kepler data is not the only news. NASA announced a "concept under study" to re-visit Europa, one of Jupiter's moons. Europa, which is slightly smaller than Earth's Moon, is considered to be one of the more likely candidates to harbor extraterrestrial life within the Solar System. Although most of the moon's surface is frozen, a few months ago the Hubble Space telescope detected plumes of water vapor on Europa's surface, and it is believed that there is liquid water beneath the icy crust. The concept of the Europa Clipper is to put a vessel in orbit around the moon to perform detailed instrument analyses. Among the questions is how thick is the ice crust on the surface? Could the giant moon harbor creatures in the oceans of water beneath its surface? I say, let's go fishin'--who knows what will bite? Below is a picture of Europa taken by the Galileo Probe in 1996.
This reminds me of the fabulous sci-fi film from a few months ago "Europa Report" which is a fictional documentary of a manned exploration of Europa. I highly recommend this film, which I think was largely overlooked because it was overshadowed by the very popular film "Gravity" which I blogged about previously. Below-left is the trailer for "Europa Report" and below-right is a short NASA video about Europa.
So, will we find extraterrestrial life? Well, I believe it is there, but will we find it? I have no idea, but I hope so--and we have so much more to explore! To get a feel of how large (and how small) our universe is, I invite you to explore this mind-blowing interactive infographic.
In closing, I would like to leave you with this quote from Neil deGrasse Tyson.
Scot Bastian Ph.D. is a scientist and artist who lives in Seattle WA.