Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Two Articles From a Great Site

From "Darwin's Silver Box" by English physician Myles Harris
On a planet where computers had yet to be been invented and electricity is unknown, an earthquake fissures a great rift in the earth. At the bottom of the fissure, hundreds of feet below the surface, a strange box made of an unknown, shiny metal is found. When the box is opened its discoverers find an arrangement of what look like keys, with each key having a different mark.

On the inside of the hinged lid, opposite the keys, is a square piece of glass of greenish colour which is slightly soft to the touch. If you look hard at its surface you can dimly see your face. There are four screws on one side of the box. When they are removed a panel comes away revealing a network of tiny green boards covered in gold, copper and silver wires. In one corner is a small, delicate wheel.

The rest of the article is here.

From the Book Review for The Revenge of Gaia: Why the earth is fighting back – and how we can still save humanity
by James Lovelock

The second part of the sub-title of this book is a false sell: it doesn't tell us how to save humanity. Indeed, James Lovelock has disclaimed the idea as "hubristic" on BBC Radio 4's Broadcasting House, whilst also suggesting he didn't write the words anyway. But that hardly matters. There are many competing messages in this small infuriating book and some of them appeal to this reviewer. So, to accentuate the positive, let's look at them first.

Lovelock admires Bruce Ames, the American researcher who first described the carcinogenicity of the most "natural" of our foods, and demonstrated that the "artificial" chemicals in the food produced by conventional farmers was benign, not least as compared with the "organic". He takes quite a good swipe at Rachel Carson, and that's always a good sign. Oh, and he dismisses the hypochondria and self-deception which lies behind much new-age medicine.

The rest of the review is here.

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