23 May 2005

Oddness of Everything

George Will had a great article in the 23 May issue of Newsweek, talking about the dangers (intellectual & moral & maybe even physical) of "an excess of certitude."

It reminded me of a book by David Bodanis, titled The Secret House, which takes you on a micro-level tour of an ordinary day. It blew my mind when I was in high school (and still blows me away today).

It also reminded me of something I read in Juan Enriquez's book As The Future Catches You. In 1996 (less than 10 years ago!), scientists discovered an organism calledMethanococcus jannaschii, and concluded they belonged to a third branch in the tree of life (the other two being prokarya [bacteria] and eukarya [fungi, algae, plants & animals]. They're called Archaea, and they don't breath oxygen - they breath iron. We didn't know they existed until the mid 90's, and now that we know about them, we are finding them everywhere. In fact, they may account for one fifth of the biomass on Planet Earth.

So tell me, what do you know for certain?

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