karenhart28 asked: Hi Joe! Love your blog, and I wanted to ask: What year is it? Not in the Gregorian calendar but what actual scientific year for the earth is it? And if it's too hard to calculate, do we have an estimate? Thanks!
Kinda depends on where we set year zero, eh?
My first inclination was to answer this in relation to the Big Bang, calculating today’s date based on the age of the universe. When we average together the results of all the different scientific experiments that have sought to calculate that number, we get 13.798 ± 0.037 billion years, or an uncertainty of 37 million years. That’s less than 0.3% “?” territory, but still pretty fuzzy.
But wait! The idea of a “year” is based on the Earth’s orbit around the sun (and scientists have many ways of defining a year, as it turns out), so you can’t have “years” without Earth. I think Earth’s age is a better starting point.
Based on radiometric dating of ancient meteorites and other really old rocks, scientists peg Earth’s age at 4.54 ± 0.05 billion years, an uncertainty of 50 million years. Sheesh, 1% error? Are we sure about anything?
That means it’s somewhere between year 4,490,000,000 APF* and 4,590,000,000 APF. Kind of a broad estimate, unfortunately, but it means that next time someone tells you to turn something in or finish a project at work by a certain date, you can just stare at them for a few seconds and say “But we don’t even know what YEAR it is, man…”** and just walk away.
* “APF” stands for “After Planet Formation” and is an abbreviation I literally just now made up so it should not be deemed scientific, although I AM a scientist, so maybe just say it with conviction and everyone will believe you.
** I recommend using your best Spicoli impression while saying this.
"I’m getting help, it’s just a slow process."
Lena Dunham, with a great response to David Letterman telling her to “please get some help” after she describes that taking too much time off gives an opportunity for her “existential angst to creep in”.
This jumped out to me as a clear generational divide in terms of openness to therapy, and reminded me of the words we use casually that play a part in influencing deeper widespread feelings of shame about seeking “help”. “You need professional help” is probably something I said as a 4th grader on the playground to someone doing something weird, and I’d like to remove it from my casual use.
So in the past month, I’ve rethought using words including “bossy" due to Sheryl Sandberg’s campaign, "starving to death" and "wifebeater" from Louis CK’s SNL monologue, and now this. It’s all a good dose of perspective.
My 5-year-old insists that Bilbo Baggins is a girl.
The first time she made this claim, I protested. Part of the fun of reading to your kids, after all, is in sharing the stories you loved as a child. And in the story I knew, Bilbo was a boy. A boy hobbit. (Whatever that entails.)
But my daughter was determined. She liked the story pretty well so far, but Bilbo was definitely a girl. So would I please start reading the book the right way? I hesitated. I imagined Tolkien spinning in his grave. I imagined mean letters from his testy estate. I imagined the story getting as lost in gender distinctions as dwarves in the Mirkwood.
Then I thought: What the hell, it’s just a pronoun. My daughter wants Bilbo to be a girl, so a girl she will be. And you know what? The switch was easy. Bilbo, it turns out, makes a terrific heroine. She’s tough, resourceful, humble, funny, and uses her wits to make off with a spectacular piece of jewelry. Perhaps most importantly, she never makes an issue of her gender—and neither does anyone else.
Bilbo Baggins is a girl: Until children’s books catch up to our daughters, rewrite them. (via daxsymbiont)
I’ll reblog this for forever
(Source: sashimigrade, via wreckandsalvage)