Archive | June, 2017

Bossy and the Nature of Science

24 Jun

My husband writes a science article for a monthly newsletter & this morning I interrupted him in his office as he was in the middle of this month’s submission. He subscribes to a magazine called Science Illustrated & gets a lot of ideas for his monthly articles from that magazine. His latest issue arrived in our mailbox yesterday.

Since I’d interrupted him, he told me a bit about the article he was currently working on. It was based on something he’d just read in the magazine that confirmed a phenomenon he & several friends had witnessed on a beach trip back in the 80s. I wondered aloud if their perception might possibly have been altered by some preferred recreational substance of the era but he only scoffed at the idea & said this was a serious article. He read me what he’d written so far & I liked the fact that he’d added a story from his past that related to the scientific elements of the article, even without the enhancement of recreational substances. I told him that & how I enjoyed the “personal element” he’d included.

From that point he started telling me about some of the very interesting articles that were in this month’s Science Illustrated. There was, in addition to the subject of the article he was writing, an article about how long it would ACTUALLY take to colonize planets like Mars to make them habitable for humans, & a pretty extensive article about global warming.

The global warming article included a graph showing the history of global warming as it has been tracked extensively over the last 100 years, plus a look back at the previous 200 years.  It also specifically pointed out particular events … like the Industrial Revolution that had added to a problem that could not have been foreseen at the time. It was a fascinating article & we talked about it a bit.

Way back when I met my husband some 30-odd years ago & throughout the 20 years of our marriage, one of the things I have continued to appreciate about him is his sense of humor. He has kept me laughing during some pretty serious points in our marriage & for that I am forever grateful. Just as I am grateful that he continues to delight me with his humor at the most unexpected times.

So knowing Willy the way that I do, I was not surprised that he brought up the staggering contribution to global warming that is made by cows & the amount of methane gas they spew into the atmosphere on a continuing basis through their flatulence. I asked him if that was included in the article in Science Illustrated & he told me it wasn’t, although the cow flatulence angle has been verified repeatedly by scientists who study that kind of thing.

And thus began an interesting, but strange conversation about global warming & how it has been influenced by cow farts. (Sigh …) It raised the question with us both whether cow farts are REALLY an ingredient in the vast question of global warming or if that’s just a load of hot air??? (Sigh again …)

Willy pointed out that there are absolutely HUGE numbers of cattle … not only in our country but most countries around the world. He said that the numbers are larger because more cattle are being raised for food, not to mention the number of cattle that are revered in some countries & NEVER enter the food chain (apparently they just stand around in the fields eating & farting … & contributing to global warming until they arrive at the end of their charmed lives…WOW!)

The situation would not be nearly as critical if the choices of creatures being raised for food were primarily chickens, which, unfortunately is not the case. Willy speculated on the amount of methane that would be produced by a large flock of chickens & said it was impossible to even guesstimate. And besides … it is unclear whether the methane farts produced by cattle are a direct result of their diet or if all living, farting creatures produce methane. If they do, where does that put humans on the graph? Suddenly cow farts pulled ahead of the Industrial Revolution in the grand scheme of global warming. It was obviously a very deep question that led to even more speculation & calculation. (I was getting a headache …)

So at that point in our conversation Willy came up with a possible solution for the polluting aspects of cow farts & suggested that GasX be added to the diets of all living, methane-producing creatures. He looked at me & said, “Do you have any idea just how much GasX that would take?”

And so I went back to the kitchen to fix breakfast with questions swirling around in my head about cow farts, GasX, the seriousness of global warming & speculation about just how many couples were having the exact discussion Willy & I just had before breakfast. I’m convinced that we were unique in the universe, at least for a little while … & maybe that’s a good thing. If not good, I know it’s pretty cool.

Flipping pancakes I realized just how cool it is to be married to someone with a quirky sense of humor. Life is never boring & is always some sort of adventure, whether it’s shopping with him in Walmart or discussing the seriousness of global warming, but with a twist. I remember how that sense of humor made getting me through chemotherapy for breast cancer bearable & has seen us through the bumps in the road that we’ve run into during the journey we’ve shared over the last 20 years. It has been a blessing.

I can’t imagine being married to anyone without a sense of humor.

Recently I’ve thought how wonderful it would be if I could make Willy available to the government … both sides, red & blue.  Through Willy’s influence they might be able to see dire situations with a little bit of humor & that would make it better for everyone all around. And when someone called & wanted to speak to Willy on the phone, I could simply say, “He’s on loan to the government.”

Why are cows so often named Bossy, anyway? Well, not that anyone really cares, but here it is –  Bos primigenius is the scientific name of the species (I think that’s what it said … Remember? I have a headache).

See? … we all have learned quite a lot today. And it all started with a discussion about cow farts.